Limburger July 3, 2022. by Ronald Colée. Photos: Johannes Timmermans. Translation: Ineke/John.
As a twelve-year-old she made her debut with the Maastricht children's choir “Sjamaes” on the Vrijthof
stage with André Rieu. Twelve years later, soprano Joline Soomers is the youngest member of the Johann
She is looking forward to the concerts in her own city. “Here they come into their own even better. The
highlighted churches, the acquaintances in the audience.” She has the musical talent of no other. Her father
was already playing request numbers for her and her sister when they were still walking around in their
diapers. With guitar and mouth-harmonica. Purely by ear. Joline Soomers imitated him. Birded out melodies
on her keyboard at a young age and when it was a classmate's birthday, she took the instrument to school
and played “Long will he (or she) live”. Laughing: “Wheter it was correct or not. But I think it was”.
The Maastricht native, who on Tuesday is celebrating her 25th birthday, looks forward to André Rieu's
concert series on the Vrijthof which starts on Thursday. Her second series since joining the Johann Strauss
Orchestra and her third in total. “In 2009 we were able to sing “The Earth Song” by Michael Jackson for four
evenings on stage with children's choir “Sjamaes”. What did impress me from that? Endless rows of the
audience. I couldn't even see the last row. Now I take in a lot more. The sky, the illuminated churches and
of course you try to spot acquaintances in the audience. I already receive text messages: I'll be sitting on
the terrace then. Are you waving at me?”
The fact that she was hired by the Rieu Orchestra three years ago still feels like a dream. “I was in the last
year of my musical theater studies at the conservatory in Tilburg when saxophonist Sanne Mestrom, tipped
off by a friend, put in a good word for me with André Rieu. “Let her come over and sing for me,” was his
reply.” She herself had never considered that this was also an option after her studies: singing in the
Johann Strauss Orchestra. “Of course, as a Maastricht girl, you sometimes dream of that, but you think that
that is not feasible, because it is only available for a select few. 70 to 80 percent of the musical theater
students aspire to a job in the musical world. In my graduation year I also auditioned for a musical:
Anastasia. Where I reached the finals, but eventually dropped out. At such a moment you immediately
notice that everyone is good, there are only a limited number of places available and there is typecasting
going on. And especially the latter you have no control over.”
Soomers herself is a musical omnivore. “I love the real singing roles like in “The Phantom of the Opera” and
“Les Misérables”. You often sing them during your studies, but gradually I also found classical works more
and more interesting. And when I have my earphones in, I listen to both jazz and Dutch pop, but also to
rock, soul, French chansons and disco. Just like the cabaret songs by Toon Hermans and Maarten van
Rozendaal. The great thing is: in André's orchestra all those styles come together.”
So three years ago on a Monday afternoon in February, she went to the Rieu studios in Amby (a district of
Maastricht) to sing two songs: “Deh vieni, non tardar” from Mozart's “Le nozze di Figaro” and “I belong to
me” from the musical Elizabeth. „With Frank Steijns on the piano and André as the only listener. I found it
really exciting, but also saw it as a huge opportunity. Because what did I have to lose? I was still in school.”
Blue ball gown.
The orchestra leader turned out to be quite critical. So critical that Soomers didn't think things had gone
well. Previouslywondered if she should have done this audition. Until André asked afterwards: “Would you
like to come along? Next week we will perform in Germany. If you want, you can join the choir.” Half an hour
later I signed my contract and a week later I was on stage in a beautiful blue ball gown in the
Westfalenhalle (hall) in Dortmund. That short preparation time did mean that she had to get on with a lot of
work. “I had to memorize a three-hour concert in just a week. Of which I knew the melodies by heart –
thanks to the DVDs at my grandparents – but the text was still often a puzzle. For example, I did not know
the words of Verdi's “Libiamo, ne'lieti calici” from La Traviata."
Fortunately, she was well received by the other choir members. “Because I am by far the youngest – the
youngest choir member after me is twelve years older – they soon considered me their baby and suddenly I
had seven mothers in one fell swoop: “We are Joline's moms.” She has been traveling all over the world
with them ever since. She has already been to North America, South America and many places in Europe.
“With the orchestra we perform about eighty times a year. Before corona, that meant that we went on a trip
every other week. At first I found that was quite tiring, but I didn't dare say that out loud, because I was the
youngest... But when you are on tour, the bus leaves on average every day between 11 and 12 o'clock in
the morning, you have the sound check at three-thirty in the afternoon and you perform from eight to eleven
o'clock in the evening. If we stay in one place for a few days, such as recently in Lisbon, then we have time
off until the concert and you can also see a bit of the city.”
From highlight to highlight.
By now she is used to this killer schedule and she especially enjoys it. “In fact, with this orchestra you travel
from highlight to highlight. You constantly feel the adrenaline flowing through your body all the time. And I
know it sounds like a cliché, but we're all really having a really good time. Andre also takes care of that. He
tries to make traveling as comfortable as possible and constantly inserts moments to, for example, have a
bite to eat or do something else together.”
Yet there is nothing like performing in Maastricht. “The city you know, but also the city that knows you. And
then also performing on the square that you know so well. Where you learned to celebrate fair and carnival.
Here, in the open air, at those beautifully lit churches, our concerts come into their own even better than in
the arenas where we normally play. With all acquaintances in the audience and that after the concert, you
can also roll home.”
On the steps of the theatre.
According to Soomers, this is special for all orchestra members. Not only for the people of Maastricht. “Also
for our foreign musicians. Because these shows are always presented just a little bit bigger. That starts on
the steps of the Theater on the Vrijthof with the brass band passing by. But also during the show itself. With
all those dance couples, the special guests and the choir that is expanded with eight men. “This year The
Mastreechter Staar (men’s choir) will replace those dance couples. Normally we have to compete against
eight men (men’s choir) in our home city, now against one hundred and fifty." Laughing: "Let them come."
Because in our own city the orchestra has just that little bit more energy.
“Even though it is with four nights in a row of three hours of singing, it is a task to keep a close eye on your
technique.” And then with a wink: “And not to go too wild during the encores”.
August 7, 2022, 16:03
Joline Soomers is a singer from Limburg (25) who, after completing the Music Theater course at the Tilburg
Conservatory, travels the world together with André Rieu and his orchestra. Joline comes from Maastricht
and, in addition to her musical career, she also has experience as an assistant director with theater group
L1 (Limburg TV) broadcast a program titled: “Op verzeuk op bezeuk” (A request for a visit), in which Rob
Mennen, pianist, received Joline Soomers in his backyard. Joline sings two songs, one is a very well-
known song from the Limburg repertoire: “Wie sjoen os Limburg is” (How beautiful our Limburg is), and
second a romantic song by Edith Piaf in the French and English language: “La Vie en Rose”.
Duration of the video: 15 minutes.
Translation Ineke/John. Subtitles: Ruud.
If you are interested to watch images of the “Merry little Christmas” hippo performance
with Rob, Joline and Sanne Mestrom (December 2020), click HERE.
Photo credits: Jozef Leenhouwers.
September 15, 2022.
Wat is loos in Mestreech (What is going on in Maastricht)
In this new article we are looking for hidden talents in Maastricht.
For this first episode we speak to Joline Soomers.
She is a singer and also goes on tour with the one and only André Rieu. Check it out.
Interviewer / guitar player: Jeffrey de Vries, on a rainy Vrijthof square.
(Translation: Ineke/John, subtitles: Ruud).
September 8, 2022.
Rehearsal for the inauguration of Festival MAAS! Thursday September 8, at 4 pm,
with Mestreechtere (natives) and Maastricht residents!!
Like Gabrielle, who dreamed of becoming a pianist in Aleppo (Syria). Until a rocket hit his house.
House gone, piano gone, everything gone. He eventually ended up in Maastricht and has lost none of his
optimism. He studied “Mie Leef Mestreech” (My dear Maastricht) by Jos Kuijpers
especially for this concert with carillon! How beautiful is that!
Here in a duet with Joline Soomers.