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Nov 18, 2019

ANDRÉ RIEU: "Why I Fled England"


ANDRÉ RIEU: "Why I Fled England"

After eight years of loyal service, ANDRÉ RIEU has put a stop on his traditional Christmas concerts in Great Britain. "We were forced to flee there because we were literally "left out in the cold." From now on we will be celebrating Christmas every year in a big and romantic way in Maastricht!,” he said today on the Privé page. "We created our own Brexit with this."

De Telegraaf, by HARRIE NIJEN TWILHAAR - Waltz King ANDRÉ RIEU (70) is faced with one of his greatest challenges in his musical career. “In December I will be giving for the first time a series of Christmas concerts (December 20, 21 and 22) in the MECC in Maastricht, and they will be unparalleled. Never before have we created such a huge musical production," he says at home in his fairy-tale castle on the banks of the Maas.

At the kitchen table he unfolds his plans in detail. " In my own environment I can concentrate well and be inspired. There I will not be disturbed and I can already dream about how beautiful it all will be in December. "

Traditionally, the Christmas performances took place in London for years. "We fled from there because of a trivial, let's say absurd reason. Because the organization was constantly opposing us. In recent years we had to give our concerts in an ice-cold hall and the Winter feeling was served quite literally on a silver platter. Without any consultation the thermostat was turned way down with the result that the orchestra members were having problems with their instruments. They sat on the stage with numb fingers and chattering teeth. The audience also complained. It could no longer be sustained. This year we would have been giving a sparkling Christmas concert there for the ninth time.

World Star

It was enough for the world star and his Johann Straus Orchestra. "A constructive conversation with the hall managers yielded nothing. So after eight years, I decided to pull the plug. We thus created our own Brexit without interference from BORIS JOHNSON. Of course we then had to look for an alternative. The result was that we had to think of something else before Christmas 2019. Then I thought to myself: "Why don't we do it in my own home town of Maastricht?" It will be here in a few weeks! We will be going to England in April or May to give a number of concerts so as not to disappoint our loyal fans there.”

IN ESSANCE AND SCOPE THEY WILL BE THE BIGGEST CONCERTS ANDRÉ RIEU EVER HAS GIVEN. "I AM NEVER NERVOUS BEFORE CONCERTS, BUT NOW I FEEL HUGE TENSION IN MY BODY. THIS IS GOING TO BE BE A HISTORIC, GREAT SUCCESS."

Isn't there an enormous pressure on your shoulders to entertain 33,000 concert visitors for three days?

"You can easily say that. Because it is a mega job to organize such a three-hour concert. The alternative to stay in England during Christmas days was impossible. There was a lot of pressure going around. At one point I was completely fed up when we again had to perform in a kind of a meat locker. It was downright ridiculous, the resistance from the British. Talking didn't help anymore. No idea why they did this."

That's why you pulled the plug.

"Yes, I was very annoyed. After that of course I was burdened with the question: what now? After all, we now had a big gap in our agenda. Then I had kind of a "Eureka moment." Why aren't I organizing the Christmas concerts in my own city? When I presented them to my staff and orchestra, everyone reacted positively. The English fans, on the other hand, were dumbfounded."

You are completely going to revamp the MECC into a palace in a winter atmosphere.

"It is going to be a gigantic operation that will be larger and more extensive than our traditional summer concerts on the Vrijthof. We have invested lots of money to turn the inside of the MECC into a palace in a Winter atmosphere. The audience will be immersed in an almost surreal environment. Fifty giant chandeliers will be flown in from Venice. The hall will change into a Wintry Christmas landscape with even two ice rinks, snow and beautiful wall decorations. Romance will predominate with lots of candlelight. "

You conceived and initiated everything yourself. Is that typical André Rieu?

"In my mind I  see exactly how everything, the stage and the decoration of the hall should look. I am not stubborn, but I do want to keep everything in my control. It now keeps me busy day and night. My son PIERRE (38) repeatedly puts on my brakes when I financially go off the road with my plans. Then he reminds me with: "Could it be a little less dad ...?" I really do listen to him. In the coming weeks I will be putting on the finishing touches. Everything must be right, I am simply a perfectionist."

You even have dancers waltz on an ice rink in the hall and a huge gospel choir performs.

"A total of three hundred dancers will participate in the show. Sixty couples will also waltz on the ice rink. They are brilliant artists who will provide a sparkling show. We have contracted the gospel group "The Golden Voices of Gospel" to make it a swinging concert. In addition, there will be around fifty different Charles Dickens characters walking around in beautiful costumes.”

There will also a Christmas market in another hall.

“Three hours before the start of the concert, visitors can stroll through a special Christmas market to get into the Christmas mood. These will be beautiful days. "

Mentally and physically it is quite a challenge for you. You look fit, but aren't you afraid of a relapse like almost ten years ago?

"I have to honestly admit that I'm afraid of that. At that time things went horribly wrong when I experienced equilibrium problems due to a persistent virus. That viral infection completely took me down. When I finally and slowly recovered, I decided to live healthier."


What did that illness do to you?

"It was a period to which I often think back to. I still remember that I stood by the poultry dealer and suddenly lost my balance. I had to grab hold of a rack in order not to fall flat on my face. The dizziness attacks did not go away. Doctors sounded the alarm and my family and the orchestra members were depressed. It had a great impact on myself and everyone else around me. I was exhausted, burned out and feared for the future. I was terrified that the successful "André Rieu era" would be over. We had to cancel two large tours, for example the one through Australia. Fortunately, I never had another attack afterwards. Yet I am terrified that it will come back again. Now I pay extra attention to myself.”

How do you do that?

"My family members are also watching me closely. My wife MARJORIE (72) of course is by my side. She watches over me. In addition, I can be found in the gym with Pierre three times a week. I cannot think about getting sick again. I have a huge responsibility. Don't forget that I am the employer of an orchestra consisting of one hundred and twenty musicians. They are all on the payroll. In addition, there are just as many freelancers."

You turned 70 in October. Are you going to take it easy?

"No way. Making music and putting a big smile on the faces of the audience is my passion. I keep going until I really can't do it anymore. Because it is really enjoyable when you see that people are enjoying themselves. Maastricht will radiate a lot of romance at the end of December and I hope to create the Christmas feeling in advance with this series of unique concerts”

Thanks to Ineke for this article and John's translation
Photo from AndréRieu.com

4 comments:

Francine Chavanon said...

Superbe idée d'André que ces concerts de Noël à Maastricht, au moins les musiciens et le public seront au chaud, ce sera bien plus agréable d'écouter la merveilleuse musique d'André et le JSO. Je pense que se sera une grande réussite, aucun souci de ce côté là, le professionnalisme et le perfectionnisme d'André ne sont plus à démontrer. Bravo et merci pour tout cher Maestro. Une inconditionnelle française, Francine !

Unknown said...

He should have just pulled out of London.

Unknown said...

I think this is a great decision. Your home town, which is beautiful deserves this and you are making them proud. I would not understand anyone not cooperating with you on these greatest of the great concerts in our life time. Much joy and fun.
If I could afford We would be right there.
Prayers.
From Herb Fisher
Mobile,Alabama USA.

England Fan said...

I have to admit that I have never liked the Wembley location and I am in no way surprised you have pulled out of England, sad that it is. The good news, as far as I am concerned, is that I now have a very good excuse to visit beautiful Maastricht for the second time this year, and I am really looking forward to it. Might have to run a bit fast to get back home for Christmas, but who cares. The concert in the MECC will be well worth going to. Thank you Andre, your orchestra and all the team for all the joy and happiness that you give us.

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Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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