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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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!