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Early Johann Strauss Orchestra 1998 Postcode Lottery Gala.
Photos are taken from the pop-up booklet which was released on the occasion of the special concert for the winners of the National Postcode Lottery in October 1998, as a gift to the audience.
Center piece of the book: the pop-up photo of the Johann Strauss Orchestra. Back then (1998) the orchestra consisted of 28 members. Note: 24 years later (in 2022) we still count 18 members from the very beginning in the orchestra! Translation by Ineke/John.
A price which includes music. The Postcode Lottery Gala of 1998 is a unique event. Never before has the National Postcode Lottery organized such an exclusive festival for such a large group of prize winners. Unique is also the performance by André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra as the highlight of the Gala performance in the Gelredome stadium in Arnhem (NL). With his interpretations of world famous classics, André Rieu has earned himself a place in the hearts of millions of music lovers in and outside Europe. The joy he brings people fits in fantastically with the objectives of the National Postcode Lottery. The National Postcode Lottery is committed to a clean, just world, in which every person can enjoy what are beautiful things in life, such as music. Your fully catered visit to the National Postcode Lottery Gala 1998 is therefore for more than one person a prize that includes music! Simon Jelsma, Chairman. Oct 1998.
Welcome, dear winners! Making music for 20,000 people who have won an award, that is of course, something unique. Therefore I have prepared myself with great pleasure for this concert and I sincerely hope that you will experience a pleasant afternoon. You may also like to take a look behind the scenes. In this book I take you to our dressing rooms, the make-up table, the kitchen, the technical crew, without whom such an evening would not be possible, and of course the concert. I will also introduce you to the most important and absolutely indispensable part of the evening: my orchestra. Have fun! André Rieu.
The Johann Strauss Orchestra. The Johann Strauss Orchestra, which initially consisted of 12 musicians, was founded in 1987. The first tour, 15 concerts in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, took place in January 1988. The halls were sold out right from the very first concert, and fortunately is still the case. At this moment the orchestra has 28 members, some of whom have been playing with me from the beginning I would now like to introduce my musicians to you, one by one.
Jet Gelens, violin. Jet is what you call a globetrotter. She was born in Zambia (Africa), where she lived for two years. From there she moved to Pakistan and then to Kenya. However, she spent her school years in the Netherlands, where she later also attended the conservatory. Jet has been playing in my orchestra for many years. When we are not on tour, she gives violin lessons to small children with heart and soul.
Lin Jong, violin. Lin comes from an artist’s family and was number two in a row of eight children. It took a long time before she could make a choice between ballet, singing and violin. She even once performed as a ballerina in a circus! Music can bring people together. I like that in my orchestra two young people have found each other for life. Lin's wedding to our trombonist Ruud Merx was a big party, with lots of music, of course!
Frank Steins, violin. Come to Maastricht sometime! Then you can join in as Frank plays on one of the most beautiful and oldest carillons in the world in the tower of the town hall. Moreover, everyone in the city knows: Ah, the Johann Strauss Orchestra is back home. Frank is not only a violinist, but also a very talented carillon player, performing all over Europe and even occasionally in America.
Kremi Mineva, violin. Kremi's mother, a well-known harpist in Bulgaria, discovered her daughter's musical talent early on. At the age of three Kremi started playing the violin and already during her education at the conservatory she won numerous international competitions. Once as a beautiful little curly-headed little girl she and her grandmother were waiting for the bus, when suddenly a film director stopped and wanted to engage her immediately. Luckily (for me!) her grandmother refused to let her go. Otherwise she wouldn't have been able to play the violin so beautifully here.
Monica Das, violin. Fortunately, musicians are not connected to a language, we understand each other always and everywhere in the world. Monica has no problem with that either. She was born in India, has an American passport, studied violin with the famous Suzuki in Japan and now lives in the Netherlands. She is extremely sporty and, during our long tours (a different city and a different hotel every day), with her professional aerobics classes, ensures that we all stay fit. Even me, the oldest of them all!
Freya Cremers, violin. When you see Freya on stage in her beautiful evening dress, you might think that she has just stepped out of an old painting to take her place here behind the lectern. And that while in everyday life she is a modern, smooth and sporty girl, who likes to gallop through the forest with her horse. She loves nature and she loves to cook, but prefers to spend an evening with her boyfriend, in a romantic restaurant.
Stephanie Detry, violin. Although her heart recently went out to the piano, she was so captivated by the atmosphere in the Johann Strauss Orchestra and the enormous pleasure in music and, at the same time, the very professional commitment, that she completely forgot about the piano! Instead, she now plays the violin with heart and soul in my orchestra. She is the youngest of them all. When we exercise in the morning during long tours, Stephanie is so active, that she inspires us all.
Martijntje Hermans, viola. Martijntje doesn't know what she wants. She studied law, won the Dutch women's chess championship, played hockey on the Dutch national team and studied violin and viola. She is a jack-of-all-trades, who knows how to combine her orchestral job with a position as head of cabinet of a Limburg municipality. The nice thing is that she does everything with equal pleasure. You will notice during the concert that Martijntje is a real joker.
Klaartje Polman, viola. While most professional colleagues first play the violin and only switch to the viola afterwards, Klaartje was deeply impressed from the start by the melancholic sound of this "big violin". She was immediately absolutely sure: I want to play viola and nothing else. To her regret, she was unable to pass the great love for this instrument on to her two sons. They play the cello and violin and want to perform together with Mom in the Johann Strauss Orchestra as soon as possible.
Andrea Ivanyos, cello. Andrea was born in Budapest and was sent early on by her mother to a Kodaly kindergarten, a special Hungarian school for musical talents. Despite her gift for playing the cello, she found it difficult to definitively choose this instrument. Her other great passion is: sports! When you look closely at Andrea as she plays the cello and see the high level of concentration, especially during her fantastic solos, you can hardly imagine that her biggest hobby is…..belly dancing!
Margriet van Lexmond, cello. Margriet and Andrea have both been with the Johann Strauss Orchestra from the beginning. At that time, all the ladies performed in boring black dresses, for the simple reason that I didn't have the money for costumes or sets yet. Fortunately that is different now. But the pleasure in playing was just as great then as it is now. Margriet likes to photograph and capture our long journeys and many adventures with her camera, so that we can later show everything we have experienced to our grandchildren.
Tanja Derwahl, cello. After I accepted Tanja in my orchestra, she confided in me that this had finally fulfilled her dream. As a little girl she once went with her mother to one of my concerts (at that time still with a small ensemble) and afterwards she had said: “Mama, I want to do that later too”. After fifteen years of diligent cello studies and final exams in conservatory, she is now a great cellist who devotes herself to her instrument with great passion. I am of course very proud to have such an enthusiastic employee.
Hanneke Roggen, cello. You can clearly see that Hanneke is a real bon vivant. Not only does she look radiant on stage, she is also always in a good mood behind the scenes. Her biggest hobbies are cooking and baking, but due to the many long tours abroad, she doesn't often get to it. On the other hand, she will of course be introduced to all kinds of new dishes and delicacies, which she can try again at home. In between tours, she likes to cook for her boyfriend.
Roland Lafosse, double bass. Roland had only just heard that he was getting a permanent position in Brussels as the first solo bass player in the “Orchestre National de Belgique”, moreover he was also a teacher at the Royal Conservatory in Liège (Belgium), when he gave up both of these jobs to come and work in the Johann Strauss Orchestra. coming to work: something I am of course very proud! of He is a fantastic colleague. Handling the double bass is a “piece of cake” for Roland with his imposing Tarzan stature.
Teun Ramaekers, flute. Teun and I often traveled on the same train to Liège, where we studied together at the conservatory. We always played a game: we had to guess from each other who was the prettiest girl on the train. If you guessed correctly, the other person gave you a beer in the cafeteria. If we happened to pick the same girl, we'd grab our instruments and play a duet for her. Delicious! Teun graduated cum laude, because in addition to the highest marks, he also had the most beautiful tone.
Wil Rijs, double bass. Wil and Roland are called “the tea aunts” by the other orchestra members. Not because they drink so much tea, but because they are chatting all the time. The topic of conversation is not the feminine beauty around them or the latest football results, no, it's only about double basses! They are completely obsessed with this instrument and tinker with it every spare minute. At rehearsals they are almost always too late, because some important bass-news just had to be told.
Arthur Cordewener, oboe. When, a while ago, I recorded my Christmas CD, I needed an oboe for certain pieces. Once I heard Arthur's beautiful tone, I knew I never wanted to perform without an oboe again. Since then, Arthur has been an indispensable member of the Johann Strauss Orchestra. Everywhere we go, in Germany, France or America, he speaks genuine Kerkraad's dialect and everyone understands him, even the Japanese flight attendants. Music knows no boundaries and neither does Arthur.
Manoe Konings, clarinet, saxophone. Manoe is a special case! When you see her, clad in rough black leather, racing through the streets of Maastricht on her motorcycle, you can hardly imagine that this is the same girl, who at night looks like a fairytale princess in her beautiful dress. She plays the clarinet with all her heart and I really don't know anyone who performs the adagio from Mozart's clarinet concerto as beautifully and movingly as Manoe.
Renate Dirks, bassoon, saxophone. It is said that the bassoon provides the warmth in the orchestra. That's right and in this case it's not just the bassoon, but also Renate's smile! Initially she played the saxophone, but because she is so interested in history and the bassoon is the oldest woodwind instrument, her choice eventually fell on this one. Since then she also has been a passionate collector of old bassoons, so that her house almost rlooks like a museum. Renate is all cheerfulness. The public (and us too!) can enjoy that every evening.
Roger Diederen, trumpet, flugelhorn. “Four cheerful friends”, that's how you can rightly call our brass players, because they have a lot of fun in life. That is clearly visible. Also in private life, they form a cozy four-in-hand team who like to play badminton and go fishing together. Can you imagine them quietly on the shore? The two trumpet players have been inseparable since their conservatory studies and even graduated at the same time. Roger knows how to touch the hearts of the audience with his beautiful tone in many a trumpet solo.
René Henket, trumpet, piccolo trumpet. When earlier on Sunday mornings,I used to see the brass maching band pass by, with that little boy in front blowing his trumpet so perky, I could never have imagined that the same boy would later make concert trips all over the world with me! René's youthful tone of that time, has now become a mature, powerful and impressive sound, which can be heard especially in high, festive melodies.
Marc Doomen, horn. A few years ago I called Marc at 7.30 AM (in my busy schedule that was the only possibility!) with the question if he could come and play. Ten minutes later, still half in his pajamas, he was standing at the door and he played the angels of heaven. He really is the biggest joker of the orchestra. When he is part of the fishing party, of course nothing gets caught, but it is great fun!
Ruud Merx, trombone. Limburg has the reputation of being our most musical province, especially as a “supplier” of brass players and singers. In almost all Dutch orchestras and opera companies, and even far beyond our borders, you will find Limburg wind players and singers. I am very happy that I have been able to engage four of the best wind players from the province for my orchestra. Ruud even has both talents, because he also has a beautiful voice. You notice that when he plays the trombone: he can make his instrument sing, as it were.
Jo Huijts, piano. The “support and refuge” of my orchestra is not only the piano as an instrument: that is certainly also Jo himself, with whom I have been working together for over twelve years. In perfect harmony we write the arrangements together and compose potpourris. He is a fantastic pianist and, moreover, a fine person and a warm friend. As the father of four adorable children, he can indulge himself to his heart's content in his greatest hobby: taking photos and video recordings.
Ward Vlasveld, synthesizer. If Mozart had known synthesizers, he would certainly have composed pieces for them. I myself only got to know this instrument well during Ward's final conservatory exams. I was really deeply impressed by the multitude of sounds he managed to conjure up from it. He is really a rock in this area. In the orchestra he forms, as it were, the technical link between the past and the present, that is to say that he adapts the music from previous centuries a bit to our modern ears.
Frédéric Jenniges, zither. As soon as Frédéric comes on stage, the audience starts laughing and that is characteristic of the true clown. He has been participating every year since the orchestra was founded, and together we constantly come up with new slapsticks that people, wherever they are in the world are havinbg a great time with. But actually Frédéric is a very serious and extremely professional musician, whose repertoire extends from Vivaldi and Telemann to contemporary composers. He studied musicology and teaches zither courses all over the world.
Mireille Brepols, timpani. Mireille is living proof of the fact that percussion is not just a male affair. When you see her standing behind her timpan, you immediately become excited about the natural powers with which she makes her favorite instruments sound. As a little girl she asked her parents for a drum and she became really angry when they gave her a toy drum! She got her way, namely a real instrument and is now one of the few successful percussionists in the male percussion world.
Marcel Falize, percussion. Already at the age of ten Marcel won his first competition as a soloist. From then on it was his greatest wish ever to travel the world with an orchestra. With his many instruments, of which he sometimes plays five at the same time, he forms the heartbeat of the orchestra. And that, just like in the body, is a very important function. A percussionist follows the conductor closely and Marcel does that like no other. What he also does (and he thinks I don't see that) is occasionally flirting with nice ladies in the audience every now and then!
Jef Ploemen, bus driver. Without “Papa Jef” the Johann Strauss Orchestra would never have made it this far. Literally, because he drives us safely throughout Europe in our 18-meter-long, articulated “Straussmobiel”. And that is no small feat! In addition, he takes care of us like a good family man and always counts all his sheep, so that no one is left behind. But his real starring role is of course the one on stage! A concert by the Johann Strauss Orchestra without a performance by our genteel and venerable butler is almost unimaginable!
Thank you. Lo and behold, that was my “artist gallery”; 29 totally different people, as you have been able to read. Each with his own character and his own habits, but all with the same goal in mind, namely to commit oneself every evening 100% to ensure that the concert is a success and that everyone enjoys it. Not only the musicians, but also you, dear people. Music occupies an important place in our lives, it makes it glorous and cheerful. And in that feeling we would like you to share. I am extremely grateful to my friends in the orchestra for doing this with me. Just before the performance…. Before each concert, we conduct a sound check in the afternoon to adjust our sound system to the acoustics of the hall. After all, it is different everywhere and a concert must of course sound equally good in every hall. Just before we go on stage, there is always a certain tension. Everyone tunes their instrument for the last time, a difficult piece is rehearsed again for a while. And even after all these years I am still very curious every time: how will it shortly be, how is the hall, how is the audience? Will the atmosphere be good? The concert. Every concert is for the orchestra, for myself and for the entire team behind the scenes, always the crowning glory of our work, an experience to which we look forward to every day. It's a fantastic experience for all of us, to be on stage, to play that wonderful music, to feel the joy you bring to the audience, and finally receive the applause. I have regretted it from an early age that there is such a great distance between the musicians on stage and the audience in the hall. That's why I only have one goal in mind for my concerts: to involve the people in the concert and thus let the spark jump. After a concert, we first pack our instruments very carefully, and only then all the tension falls away from us That happens to everyone in a different way. Some drink a glass of wine together and are rather exuberant, others need a moment of rest at such a moment. But everyone is satisfied and relaxed and our company looks a lot like a big family. Dresses. Especially for the Johann Strauss Orchestra we had a collection of gowns designed, the examples of which date back to the 18th century. The dresses are mainly made of silk, lace and satin and are all handmade and garnished. Everyone takes care of the appropriate make-up themselves. Together, these beautiful dresses, together with the chic tails of the gentlemen, form a harmonious and romantic whole, which fits well with our music. Catering. We have three cooks who take good care of us every day. As soon as we arrive in a room, there is fresh coffee or tea, soft drinks and lots of fruit. In the evening, about an hour and a half before the concert, the tables are set and the steaming bowls are awaiting. Everyone is curious about what kind of goodies come out of the kitchen. The cooks pay special attention to the fact that we always eat healthy and that we do not, for example, are served Wiener Schnitzel for a week, as it sometimes happened in the beginning (and that only because we played Viennese music!). Although more than eighty people have to be fed every day, everything is always freshly prepared and it all tastes delicious. Without them, we would be nowhere! Before, during and after the concert, a lot of helpers are needed who only work behind the scenes and who the audience never gets to see! These are the people who take care of the erecting and dismantling of the stage, and for light and sound. In addition, they expertly apply the necessary decoration to transform boring, gloomy halls into atmospheric concert halls. For that in this place a very heartfelt "Thank you guys!" So, dear people, now you have a small impression of what is involved in a concert. I hope you liked it. In any case, we love to give people a few nice hours with our music every time, and we genuinely enjoy it when the audience responds so enthusiastically. Hopefully we'll see each other again soon! Best regards, André Rieu.
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