June 11, 2022Gdansk is the only city in Poland with two carillons. During the Poland tour (June 2022) Frank played one of these carillons.Three collegues from the Johann Strauss Orchestra, Vera Kool (harp), Nathalie Bolle (flute), Madieke Marjon Schoots (choir, and his wife), were allowed to join him into the tower.Relaxed pictures from Poland.
June 13, 2022.Klezmer (traditional Jewish folk music) on carillon. Mathieu Polak and Frank Steijns. St. Agatha Church in the Dutch city of Beverwijk.
Article from the Chapeau of July 2022.Author: Richard Stark. Photo credits: Kris Nemeth.Interview with Frank and Madieke.Translation: Ineke/John.‘Always TOGETHER, with and without ANDRÉ RIEU’
Not only musically but also socially, the Johann Strauss Orchestra is known as a close-knit company. In some cases, LOVE even plays a game. First violinist Frank Steijns (51) and mezzo-soprano Madieke Schoots (40) have been in the 'couples of the orchestra' category for two years now. Madieke Schoots arrives a little later in the town hall because she still had to pick up the wedding album at home. Because of that I meet the multi-instrumentalist and city carillonneur of Maastricht first in the seventeenth-century town hall, his part-time workplace and their prior wedding location. "We are one of the many couples in the orchestra, but we are the couple that was married last," says Frank Steijns. When the two sit next to each other, just then you notice how their eyes shine and how they complement each other seamlessly. It wasn't immediately love at first sight when they met at a rehearsal of the Johann Strauss Orchestra in Maastricht. “I hail from Tiel, studied in Utrecht, but was working in Amsterdam at the time,” says Madieke. "With André Rieu I could sing along as a substitute for a singer on maternity leave." Frank adds: “I was not really open for love because my work with André means that I am on concert tour all over the world 150 days a year, and then it often turned out to be difficult to enter into a relationship.” Although the two did not immediately fly around each other's neck, a time did come for them in which they always had nice conversations with each other about everything and anything. “We also visited each other's concerts and – coincidentely or not – when we made a date, there was always one table free on a crowded Vrijthof terrace and always exactly the same”, Madieke remembers in the very beginning.In the fall of 2015, the musicians went on tour with André Rieu to Chile. “We were somewhat awkwardly around each other, while other orchestra members probably saw our infatuation a kilometer away”, says Frank. After the tour, Schoots resumed her work as a singer in the Randstad. Steijns went on tour with the orchestra. At the baggage claim at the Dublin airport it happened, he reconstructs. „André tapped me on the shoulder and asked: 'You don't look very happy Frank, is it because of me?'. I replied: ‘Somewhat because it is getting serious with Madieke and I am dreading the fact being on tour so frequently. That is not going to be the case.” Then André said: “Madieke, I know her from my concerts… Call her right away and tell her I'm offering her a one-year contract!” Well, since then we've been happily together for six years now ”, which he briefly summarizes the couple's love story. "We are together on tour from morning till night and that is going well, perhaps also because we are both Capricorns, just like, by the way, thirteen other musicians in the orchestra." While Madieke is looking for an explanation. “The other orchestra members have also embraced us as a couple and we ourselves too like the fact that you share the same experiences as partners. You experience the same concert from a different perspective as a singer or violinist. You sometimes talk about that before going to sleep, but that's only fun.” Frank, laughing: “For observant visitors to the Vrijthof concerts in Maastricht: when the orchestra starts “Falling in love” by Elvis Presley, we always look at each other in love.”Violinist FRANK STEIJNS and singer MADIEKE SCHOOTS have been a couple for six years already. Prior to André Rieu's concerts on the Vrijthof, the Maastricht Salon Orchestra will play a private concert for VIP guests of Andre Rieu Travel, with Frank Steijns on the piano. “VerrasSing” (Surprise) performs in the Cellebroederskapel in Maastricht on 10, 14 and 24 July.(Click on the picture and send an e-mail to purchase tickets).During the past corona period, an ensemble arose in which the two participate: “VerrasSing”, a company consisting of Madieke Schoots and two other vocalists from Rieu's orchestra, with Frank Steijns behind the piano. “During that period, we also gave a concert together in Washington on the carillon that the Netherlands donated as a gift to America after the war,” says Frank. Something similar also happened in the Maastricht city hall when we got married. “Our wedding took place in the middle of corona period and for that reason only five people were allowed into the tower. I alone was allowed to play the Wedding Bells of the carillon and Madieke sang along.” “We also gave each other our rings there,” says Madieke as she along with her husband browse through the wedding album. “Our family received the ceremony via a video link. When we looked at the Markt through the reverberation holes, a big surprise came to us," says Frank. “Due to Corona, the entire orchestra of André Rieu was spread all across the square, but as one big family, was with champagne at their fingertips applauding and enjoying the event.”
I heard the bell and now I know where the clapper hangs! The last meeting of our writing club before the summer. Our teacher is expecting us at the Market Square in Maastricht. There we will meet someone who will tell us something about which we can, or rather have to write a story. While we wait for him at the base of Minckelers', (statue of the discoverer of gas lighting), I travel back to my youth. Here at this Market is my birth house. I grew up here and as the daughter of a catering entrepreneur, I was formed here for life. When I feel the warmth of the cobblestones, I am again sitting there as a toddler on the same warm ground. I suddenly see my grandmother, who stumbled in front of this statue and broke her knee, when she was trying to catch up with “Sinterklaas” with me on her hand. Again I hear the car coming to a stop with a loud bang against the iron fence protecting the terraces from the busy road. That morning I had been swinging on the chain.The Market, my market, the market of my father and his father, who once was a market master, has changed radically and there again not. Who are we going to meet? What is this person going to tell us? About what? About whom? It can no longer be Minckelers himself, nor can it be the Mooswief (sculpture of vegetable woman). Most of the striking entrepreneurs on this beautiful square, the most beautiful in the city, are no longer there. The crazy Dries, my father and many others are now rocking in heaven. Who then? Emile arrives punctually and begins his introduction as only a writer and journalist can. The whole group feels the tension rising. We will shortly visit the most beautiful office in the city. An office with only one employee. Who is rarely seen, but whose work has a major impact on the city and beyond. That's it, I think and when I ask if we sometimes have to wait until 7.30 pm, I see that I'm in the right place. We meet Frank Steijns, who succeeded his father Mathieu in 1997 and thus became the 13th city carillonneur of Maastricht. He opens for us the now abandoned town hall, after all it is 7.30 pm. As he tells us the history of this beautiful building, we climb higher and higher to the top, each staircase becoming steeper and narrower. Then suddenly we are under the carillon, the view quiets us. Maastricht is at our feet. And Frank? He just keeps on talking. About the history of our city, the beautiful carillon (people: pay attention, one "R", two LL's), the original purpose of the bells, the battle between Servaas and the City Hall, why we are not Belgians after all and Sterre Der Zee (Star of the Sea) earlier used to be along the canal. And much more. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, he strikes a note and there, right above my head but visible to the entire city, the o-so-recognizable sound from my childhood. 'Which song do we want to hear?' Everyone looks at me, but I give the credit to Hans, a real 'Dutchman' but in many ways more a Maastricht resident than I. He chooses the Maastricht Anthem. This is followed by “Nothing Else Matters”. And when Frank plays, then indeed nothing else matters. He is completely absorbed in his playing, his body moves with the intensity of the music. Then his hands fly fierce and robust again, and then light and airy over the keys. For us, for me, for Maastricht. Frank Steijns, city carillonneur. A professional. Someone who has turned his passion into his job. Poured in at an early age. With one foot firmly planted in the past through his attention and respect for this cultural heritage. His other leg firmly planted in the future. Upkeep aimed at preserving, automating and modernizing the repertoire. A man who does everything to be able to play, to be allowed to play. Fortunately, his other employer (a certain André Rieu) is flexible so that Frank can play here every Saturday. Only with his carillon, thoughts and memories does Frank make the bells do the work for what they are designed to do. For an audience that may not even know he is there. But we know. We bow deeply. How nice is it to see someone speak so passionately about their profession. Frank IS his profession. I really wish that for everyone. He is allowed and 'must' stay in this job for a while and jokes that follow-up is being worked on. Fortunately; the carillon is never allowed to be silent. Should you happen to walk through Maastricht on Saturday around half past one and hear the carillon? Look up and give a "thumbs up."!Thank you Gabriela for this very nice story.
9 June 2022, from Facebook: assignment for a writing club. By Gabriela van Gemert-Gunther.Translated and posted here with her permission. Translation: Ineke, edited by John.Gabriela van Gemert-Gunther is at Maastricht City Hall.