Personal highlights. By Ineke, edited by Entia Shadwell, from South Africa. Thanks Entia!
André Rieu founded the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987, so in 2017 we celebrated its 30th birthday.
André has never before given so many consecutive concerts in Maastricht, spread over three weekends in
July. Ten concerts sold out on the Vrijthof square "in his hometown, where he lives", and the 11th was the
live cinema streaming to 1500 cinemas in Europe and Australia.
Never before did so many JSO members organize events for the fans. Agnes sold her artistic jewelry in the
shop, ‘Your Market Booth’; Cord presented a free coffee-tasting event; and Laura, Donij and Anna gave
meet-and-greets. They came with their friends, wives, husbands, children and the fans loved it! A lot of
‘hugging pictures’ were taken. We attended the Maastricht concerts for the 13th time in a row. We spoke to
many old and new fans and enjoyed the concerts as well as the fan events very much.
We were so happy to see Lin Jong back in the orchestra!
There was a flashback to the first concert in 1987, when the first guest was also Frederic Jenniges with his
sitar. Anna Majchrzak sang ‘Think of Me’; Donij van Doorn performed a new aria from ‘La Traviata’; and
Manoe Konings played the bagpipe in the ‘Highland Cathedral’ along with a pipers band from another
Limburg town, Heerlen. Two Chinese sopranos, Jing Li and Shao Lin, sang ‘Plaisir d'Amour’, as well as
another beautiful Chinese song. The surprise act came with the encores: a car appeared on the stage and
out came the American actor and singer, David Hasselhoff. He sang ‘Looking for Freedom’, ‘Love me
Tender’ and ‘Una Paloma Blanca’ as the entire audience was swaying along. We have already posted
videos on the website under "concerts", so you may have a look there. In one of the concerts there was
another big surprise: André's longest-term fan, 103-year-old nun Sister Leona, attended the concert in a
wheelchair and André danced ‘The Blue Danube’ with her.
I would like to elaborate on a number of precious personal memories. Ruud and I were in Maastricht for all
10 concerts. We attended concerts on the square as well as watched some from our hotel room. On the first
weekend of the cinema filming, the churches were beautifully lit in several colors. Cameras on a high
platform and an enormous sky mote were moving over the audience.
On one of the weekends we were joined by our daughter Irene and on another by our granddaughter,
Natascha, who scored a number of high fives with André, Marc, and several orchestra members. She had
the time of her life.
We had more guests: the leading ladies of the Dutch fake Johann Strauss orchestra (‘Golden Oldies at Full
Speed’), Emmy and Joke. We had a lot of fun. The imitation orchestra will perform again prior to the cinema
streaming in the Pathé cinema in The Hague, our hometown.
After having used the earlier André cutout for 8 years to welcome the fans to the fan dinner, we had
purchased a brand new cardboard André this year. After the fan dinner we put him in the hotel lobby, next
to the elevator. One morning we found him broken into three pieces. The night porter explained that a
drunken family had dragged him into and out the elevator and finally fell on him. Unfortunately, he was too
late to prevent the damage.
Sadly, other regrettable things also happened. Some fans were robbed, despite of the billboard of the
Maastricht police warning: "Beware of pickpockets". Some fans needed medical attention or even had to go
to the hospital. We, as well as the Hotel DuCasque’s receptionists, helped to sell spare concert tickets –
sometimes at the very last moment.
The shops adapted to the Rieu mania. We saw André in a bed store, windows filled with violins and musical
notes, shoes with André's picture…
For us, the annual Maastricht concerts are an annual time of happiness: The music, the atmosphere, the
friends from all over the world, as well as the fan events and the gatherings at Gauchos… vitamins of joy!
Photo above: Mrs. Annemarie Penn-te Strake,
Mayor of Maastricht, is a big André fan!
Immediately after the concert had finished, the crew started to dismantle the lamps, screens and stage. In
our hotel room we heard them work all night through and when we woke up the next morning and opened
the curtain, this is what we saw. We packed, untied and removed our banners from the hotel facade and
went home to see the 11th concert in the sold-out cinema of our hometown The Hague. Another great
experience. A festive glass of prosecco, the “Golden Oldies” mime orchestra to get the people into the
mood, great transmission, great sound. People applauded in the cinema. Some told me that they intended
to attend a live concert in Maastricht next year.
Bye, bye, see you again next year in Maastricht.
Our hero Rieu:
Sister Leona: 103.