an­drÉ rieu

Con­tem­po­rary King of the Waltz

Upscale Living Magazine - - Features - | By An­gela Sara West

He’s out­sold Brit­ney and Bey­oncé and played to big­ger crowds than Take That. As one of the best-sell­ing clas­si­cal mu­si­cians of all time, and one of the big­gest solo male tour­ing artists in the world, he’s topped the in­ter­na­tional charts an im­pres­sive 30 times. This fun-lov­ing mu­si­cian thrills au­di­ences around the globe with his im­pres­sive live shows… a “mod­ern-day Strauss” on a mis­sion to get the whole world waltz­ing.

Multi-award-win­ning An­dré Rieu talks to An­gela Sara West about the se­crets to his sen­sa­tional suc­cess, col­lab­o­rat­ing with Sir An­thony Hop­kins and The Hoff, his forth­com­ing North Amer­i­can tour and his fairy­tale home in Hol­land, a cas­tle made fa­mous by D’Artag­nan. Dutch vi­o­lin­ist and con­duc­tor, An­dré Rieu, is a first-class act. With an im­pres­sive ca­reer span­ning over 30 years, the charis­matic en­ter­tainer de­lights fans around the world with his eclec­tic mix of waltz, mu­si­cal scores, opera, pop and easy lis­ten­ing, and is a multi-plat­inum mu­si­cal phe­nom­e­non like no other.

The high-spir­ited mu­si­cian is uni­ver­sally recog­nised as a mu­si­cal ge­nius with the en­ergy of a rock star, and ac­claimed for his in­nate abil­ity to cre­ate a sym­phonic party out of pop songs fused with clas­si­cal mu­sic. Ini­ti­at­ing a world­wide re­vival of waltz mu­sic, the charm­ing clas­si­cal comic brings not only hu­mour to the world, but has the rare abil­ity to con­vert even non-clas­si­cal mu­sic lovers, touch­ing the hearts of mil­lions of peo­ple who dis­cover a whole new mu­si­cal world and get ex­cited about clas­si­cal mu­sic.

With his talk-of-the-town tours out­selling A-list artists in­clud­ing Madonna, Cold­play and El­ton John, he has sold over 40 mil­lion CDs and DVDs world­wide, re­ceived close to 500 Plat­inum and al­most 300 Gold awards and had bil­lions of views on YouTube. Last year, An­dré’s suc­cess­ful shows out­sold any other male tour­ing artist in the world, in­clud­ing Bruce Spring­steen.

If any­one knows how to stage a grand stage show, it’s An­dré. With his Jo­hann Strauss Orches­tra, oc­ca­sional choir and top-class soloists in tow, this in­ter­na­tional su­per­star has trav­elled the world, stag­ing spec­tac­u­lar ex­trav­a­gan­zas and show-stop­ping per­for­mances ev­ery­where from London’s Royal Al­bert Hall to NYC’s Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall. His lively con­certs dis­play a win­ning for­mula of sen­sa­tional mu­sic, in­ter­spersed with ro­man­tic mo­ments and witty twists, and he de­lights au­di­ences ev­ery­where he goes. It’s al­ways one big party when­ever this flam­boy­ant mu­si­cal star is in town!

MU­SI­CIAN ON A MIS­SION

The ami­able Dutch­man tells me he feels hon­oured to be dubbed the mod­ern “King of the Waltz” by the world’s me­dia. Play­ing mu­sic from all gen­res and decades, he’s the king of cross­over, too. “I am very proud… But I play so much more than waltzes. There is re­ally only ONE true King of the Waltz and that is my idol, Jo­hann Strauss.”

Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the great Aus­trian com­poser, An­dré is a born en­ter­tainer with bound­less en­thu­si­asm plus a great sense of hu­mour, which he brings to his up­lift­ing shows, which show­case su­perla­tive sets matched with flaw­less melodies. Well-known for his in­fec­tious joie de vivre, his unique, un­ortho­dox ap­proach to clas­si­cal mu­sic makes for an at­mos­phere that is elec­tric, with sets that are out of this world. The en­er­getic orches­tra leader en­cour­ages his au­di­ences to jump out of their seats and dance in the aisles, makes jokes, tells sto­ries, and even in­dulges in a bit of slap­stick com­edy in be­tween per­form­ing some of the most beau­ti­ful waltzes in the world, along with ro­man­tic songs and much-loved hits from mu­si­cals and films. Jam-packed with sur­prises, we defy any­one not to fall un­der this mag­i­cal mu­si­cian’s se­duc­tive spell!

For An­dré, the ex­cel­lence of the mu­sic is equally as im­por­tant as the stag­ing of his con­certs. Ex­ud­ing emo­tional melodies, a good deal of hu­mour and top-class in­ter­na­tional soloists, his en­chant­ing events en­gage and cap­ti­vate au­di­ences, bring­ing the glam­our of the Vi­en­nese ball­room to mil­lions across the world. He says his con­certs are about love and joy, and re­veals that the most re­ward­ing as­pect of what he does is wit­ness­ing his fans’ en­joy­ment of his work. “See­ing all those happy peo­ple in the au­di­ence…. the fun they are hav­ing, the kisses, the danc­ing… Peo­ple write me let­ters, say­ing, “An­dré, I needed two weeks to come down af­ter your con­cert.” Isn’t that won­der­ful?!!”

Cut­ting a ro­man­tic fig­ure on stage, the con­duc­tor of waltz-based clas­sics and his en­thu­si­as­tic orches­tra put their hearts and soul into each per­for­mance, in­ject­ing pas­sion and emo­tion into ev­ery note, re­sult­ing in very happy, clappy, toe-tap­ping au­di­ences, with whom he has a great rap­port. Sway­ing with the mu­sic, clap­ping, danc­ing, jump­ing up and down… it ALL hap­pens when this mu­sic mae­stro per­forms.

The vi­olin Wun­derkind is the very proud owner of a very valu­able in­stru­ment which of­ten makes an ap­pear­ance on stage; his pre­cious Stradi­var­ius from 1732. “Yes. My first one was from 1667, but it was a lit­tle bit too small and more ap­pro­pri­ate for a young girl, who now plays it. This one is per­fect. It has a rich, pas­sion­ate sound which re­minds of me of the warm voice of Maria Cal­las.”

HOW IT ALL BE­GAN…

Born in the Dutch city of Maas­tricht, An­dré was sur­rounded by mu­sic from birth and dis­cov­ered his pro­found pas­sion for mu­sic at a very young age. Along with Strauss, his mu­sic icon as a child was the cel­e­brated clas­si­cal com­poser, Mozart. “My mother al­ways told a story that when I heard Mozart as a small child, I’d al­ways say ‘Mooooi’, which means ‘Beau­ti­ful’.”

“My fa­ther was a con­duc­tor, so I can’t re­mem­ber a time with­out mu­sic in our house. I had five sib­lings and all of my broth­ers and sis­ters played an in­stru­ment. I started play­ing the vi­olin when I was five years old, but also stud­ied the flute, piano and oboe. My mother picked the vi­olin for me… and she was right. I loved the sound of it.”

It wasn’t long be­fore the vi­olin vir­tu­oso dis­cov­ered he had a very special tal­ent. “I don’t be­lieve I was a “child prodigy” - these chil­dren work very hard, study­ing for hours and hours per day. For me, play­ing an in­stru­ment was nor­mal… I thought every­one did! I asked the other chil­dren at school, “Which vi­olin do you play?” I sim­ply felt at an early age that the vi­olin was for me, and I fell in love with my teacher, which helped a lot, ha-ha!!

An­dré con­tin­ued his mu­si­cal train­ing at con­ser­va­toires in Liège in Bel­gium and Maas­tricht, and re­ceived his pres­ti­gious “Pre­mier Prix” de­gree from the Royal Con­ser­va­tory of Brus­sels.

PIZZA PLANS

At one point, the ac­claimed con­duc­tor and vi­o­lin­ist went off-piste, swap­ping his stick’n’strings for a piece of a pizza project. “My wife, Mar­jorie, and I had a very strict ed­u­ca­tion, but when we were stu­dents,

we tried to escape all of that and de­cided to break free. I locked up my vi­olin, she threw away her books and we planned to open a pizze­ria, in which I would play when the Pizza Pa­ganini was be­ing served. But that idea only lasted for three weeks, and I fig­ured that if I wanted to play Pa­ganini, I’d bet­ter go back and study!”

A MILE­STONE 30 YEARS OF THE JSO

In 1987, he founded An­dré Rieu Pro­duc­tions com­pany and his beloved Jo­hann Strauss Orches­tra, to which, he says, he is “prac­ti­cally mar­ried”.

“I started with a small en­sem­ble of 12 peo­ple. The first re­hearsal was at my sons’ school and it then grew big­ger and big­ger. We started play­ing at re­tire­ment homes, small the­atres, then are­nas and fi­nally sta­di­ums, like Toronto and Mel­bourne. It makes me so happy be­cause we have reached peo­ple with what we do.”

An­dré’s en­er­getic orches­tra now com­prises a 60-piece en­sem­ble and marked its mile­stone 30th an­niver­sary this year at his ea­gerly-an­tic­i­pated an­nual con­cert in Maas­tricht, this year screened live into over 500 cin­e­mas here in the UK.

PITCH PER­FECT!

An­dré’s big break came in 1994, with the record­ing of the Waltz No. 2 by Shostakovich. The fol­low­ing year, he scored the per­fect goal... Per­form­ing the same piece at AFC Ajax’s home Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nal against Bay­ern Mu­nich put An­dré not only on the sport­ing, but also the world mu­sic map overnight. Ajax went on to win and who else but An­dré could have a foot­ball crowd wav­ing flags, hum­ming along and sway­ing to Shostakovich?!!

“My wife named it the ‘Sec­ond Waltz’. It sold 850,000 copies in the Netherlands alone. It was truly amaz­ing that peo­ple sang it in foot­ball sta­di­ums… you can still watch it on YouTube.”

FROM SMALL TO SILVER SCREEN SUC­CESS

From per­form­ing on Danc­ing with the Stars to his fas­ci­nat­ing TV se­ries, Wel­come to my World, fol­low­ing the ups and downs and back­stage go­ings-on of the vi­olin wizard and his orches­tra around the world, along with TV ap­pear­ances, An­dré’s set new stan­dards on the big screen, too.

The broad­cast of his 2015 Maas­tricht Con­cert marked his big­gest suc­cess yet, break­ing the UK box of­fice records for a cinema mu­sic event. Screened live in cin­e­mas, it took over £1.4m, mak­ing it the high­est-gross­ing cinema mu­sic event of all time, sur­pass­ing One Di­rec­tion and Take That.

“That was fan­tas­tic! It shows that our mu­sic is re­ally for every­one.”

The con­cert was beamed live into cin­e­mas in over 30 coun­tries world­wide, in­clud­ing the US, Brazil, Canada and South Africa. An­dré also topped the box of­fice in Aus­tralia, Den­mark and, of course, his na­tive Netherlands.

GONGS GA­LORE!

The su­per­star of clas­si­cal mu­sic has notched up no less than 30 no. 1 chart po­si­tions world­wide and is the only clas­si­cal artist to en­ter Poll­star’s Top 10. As the most suc­cess­ful clas­si­cal artist in the world, the multi-tal­ented mu­si­cian’s suc­cess and em­phatic con­tri­bu­tion to clas­si­cal mu­sic across over three decades has re­sulted in count­less cov­eted ac­co­lades. Along with Brit Awards, An­dré’s won World Mu­sic Awards, a Gramo­phone Award and a Dutch Ex­port Award among nu­mer­ous oth­ers, cel­e­brat­ing his un­ri­valled tal­ent.

How does it feel to re­ceive such pres­ti­gious awards and hon­ours? “It’s won­der­ful, of course, be­cause it’s proof that we have reached the hearts of mil­lions of peo­ple around the world,” He says mu­sic is very im­por­tant to the world. “Es­pe­cially in times like these. Wher­ever we play, peo­ple al­ways seem to for­get their wor­ries for a mo­ment. That’s one of the most beau­ti­ful and pow­er­ful things of mak­ing mu­sic.” The in­ter­na­tional sen­sa­tion again made his­tory in the UK by hav­ing the high­est- chart­ing clas­si­cal al­bum this cen­tury, was crowned no. 1 Clas­sic Artist in the US (with the Wall Street Jour­nal call­ing him a “Mae­stro for the Masses”) and has been the high­est-sell­ing mu­sic artist in Aus­tralia for the past five years, dom­i­nat­ing the DVD charts Down Un­der with nine DVDs in the Top 10.

He has also been be­stowed with the pres­ti­gious French dec­o­ra­tion of Che­va­lier des Arts et des Let­tres, while in his home­town, he clinched the Gold Medal of Hon­our from Maas­tricht’s Mayor Gerd Leers – the city’s great­est distinc­tion.

“I think I am proud­est owner of the “Grand Gold Dec­o­ra­tion for Ser­vices to the Repub­lic of Aus­tria”. It’s a very pres­ti­gious award, and to re­ceive this from a na­tion with such ex­cep­tional mu­si­cal tra­di­tions, where com­posers like Mozart, Schu­bert, Strauss lived, is amaz­ing.”

SUC­CESS SE­CRETS

As the head of a flour­ish­ing en­ter­tain­ment com­pany, tak­ing care of the cre­ative side as well as busi­ness mat­ters, An­dré pre­sides over a global busi­ness em­pire. “Ev­ery­thing we earn, we put back into the com­pany. I have the largest pri­vate orches­tra in the world and more than 100 peo­ple on the pay­roll, in­clud­ing my ad­min­is­tra­tion staff. It’s a big fam­ily busi­ness.”

He cred­its much of his suc­cess to his wife, Mar­jorie, and has faith in the power of pos­i­tive think­ing: “I was born lucky. It is re­ally my char­ac­ter. I am a happy per­son. I can get im­pa­tient, but I never get mad.”

The big­gest chal­lenge of his ca­reer? “Con­vinc­ing man­agers, la­bel peo­ple and crit­ics that my mu­sic is for every­one. For younger and older peo­ple, for fam­i­lies, for the pro­fes­sor or the clean­ing lady… not for an elite.”

An­dré be­lieves that every­one can en­joy clas­si­cal mu­sic and has been in­stru­men­tal in achiev­ing his aim to re­vive 19th-cen­tury waltz mu­sic. What drives this mu­sic mae­stro? “Love and pas­sion… Walt Dis­ney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I al­ways dreamed of trav­el­ling the world with my own orches­tra. And I love to be on stage play­ing all that beau­ti­ful mu­sic.”

With a gift for touch­ing hearts, his unique ap­proach to clas­si­cal mu­sic and en­gag­ing spec­ta­tors is part of his win­ning for­mula. “We are very in­di­vid­ual. Ev­ery con­cert is dif­fer­ent.” He says en­cour­ag­ing au­di­ence in­ter­ac­tion has been in­stru­men­tal in achiev­ing his melodic path to the top. “Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and emo­tions are the se­cret to my suc­cess, I think. I look my au­di­ence in the eye, I talk to them and ask them to join us.”

The born en­ter­tainer speaks six dif­fer­ent languages, Dutch, English, Ger­man, French, Ital­ian and Span­ish, and can there­fore ask his fans to par­tic­i­pate by stand­ing up from their seats and waltz­ing in the aisles in all six!

SEC­OND-TO-NONE STAGE SETS

A live An­dré Rieu show makes for quite the spec­ta­cle… Ex­trav­a­gant with a cap­i­tal “E”, his showy stage sets are noth­ing less than breath­tak­ing. Elab­o­rate global ex­trav­a­gan­zas with no ex­pense spared, the clas­si­cal con­duc­tor’s con­certs have seen Mary Pop­pins fly­ing over the au­di­ence, life-size ball­rooms and ice rinks, and an en­chant­ing Vene­tian-style set com­plete with a Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, or­nate Ital­ian foun­tain and a colour­ful Vene­tian mas­quer­ade.

His life­size repli­cas of Aus­tria’s Im­pe­rial Schön­brunn Palace saw the big­gest stage set ever to go on tour. The sen­sa­tional set was 10-sto­ries high and longer than a foot­ball field, fea­tured foun­tains, a skat­ing rink, a ball­room dance floor plus a state car­riage cov­ered in real gold! For the most ex­ces­sive and ex­trav­a­gant show ever to take to the road, he had to build two sets to fit into his tour­ing sched­ule, which in­cluded his largest con­cert ever, to an au­di­ence of 38,000 in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia.

Hol­ly­wood hob­nob­bing with Sir An­thony Hop­kins & cook­ing up a storm with The Hoff!

An­dré’s adored by A-list names and once recorded a waltz penned by his hero of the big screen, Sir An­thony Hop­kins, and named an al­bum af­ter it. “Sir An­thony com­posed this waltz named And The Waltz Goes On when he was a stu­dent but it had never been per­formed,” An­dré ex­plains. “His wife saw me on US TV and thought my orches­tra should per­form her husband’s waltz. His of­fice called me and we got to­gether to col­lab­o­rate on it. Sir An­thony is a won­der­ful per­son and my favourite ac­tor. It was very ex­cit­ing and in­spir­ing to meet and work with him.”

And it’s mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion - Sir An­thony is a fan of An­dré too! He and his wife flew by pri­vate jet to Maas­tricht to at­tend An­dré’s home­town con­certs, where An­dré per­formed it for the first time to a large crowd. Sir An­thony said it was a was “a dream come true” and that he was “to­tally knocked out” by it.

An­dré also re­cently teamed up with David Has­sel­hoff as part of his 30th an­niver­sary JSO cel­e­bra­tions in Maas­tricht. The Hoff made quite an entrance, burst­ing onto the stage as a guest singer in his fa­mous Knight Rider car, KITT, and had the crowd rock­ing to his hit Look­ing for Free­dom, Elvis’ Love Me Ten­der and Ge­orge Baker’s Una Paloma Blanca. “There was im­me­di­ate sym­pa­thy be­tween us. I knew at once that I’d love to work with him. David is such a pro­fes­sional and was a huge suc­cess with the au­di­ence. We were both very happy!”

THE KING OF THE WALTZ MEETS THE QUEEN OF BRI­TAIN

An­dré’s no stranger to the in­ter­na­tional pop charts… From ABBA’s Mamma Mia and Michael Jack­son’s Smile to Ce­line Dion’s emo­tional chart top­per, My Heart Will Go On, the baroque pop per­former has cel­e­brated them all. The mu­si­cian he’d most like to per­form with? “Bruce Spring­steen! I re­ally ad­mire him.”

So, he ad­mires “The Boss”, is in­spired by Andrew Lloyd Web­ber and once took to the stage along­side con­tem­po­rary artists Lady Gaga, Mi­ley Cyrus and Anasta­cia, along with Michael Bublé, Kather­ine Jenk­ins, Bette Mi­dler and Whoopi Gold­berg to per­form for Queen El­iz­a­beth II, be­fore meet­ing his royal fan back­stage.

“It was a great hon­our and my orches­tra and I were all very ex­cited. Her great, great grand­mother, Queen Vic­to­ria, loved to waltz and made the dance pop­u­lar in the UK. The Queen was very friendly and thanked us for the per­for­mance. She en­joyed it very much!”

To cel­e­brate the Queen’s 90th birth­day, he wrote a special piece of mu­sic ti­tled The Wind­sor Waltz, which opens with a vi­brant fan­fare and pays homage to Bri­tish favourites in­clud­ing Rule Britannia and Pomp and Cir­cum­stance, be­fore launch­ing into won­der­ful waltzes and cul­mi­nat­ing with a hint of God Save The Queen.

In 2013, An­dré wrote the Corona­tion Waltz and gave a Corona­tion con­cert, which was broad­cast live on na­tional tele­vi­sion, in Am­s­ter­dam’s Mu­seum Square in hon­our of the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the new King Willem-Alexan­der and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

TAK­ING THE BIG­GEST SHOW ON EARTH ALL AROUND THE WORLD

From New Zealand to Mex­ico, and the UK to the USA, An­dré cer­tainly lives up to his other nick­name, “The Fly­ing Dutch­man”. With his orches­tra in tow, he tours on five con­ti­nents, play­ing around 120 con­certs a year, es­tab­lish­ing him as one of the top 10 tour­ing acts in the world.

Four sets of stages, cos­tumes and in­stru­ments, along with cooks, a doc­tor, a fit­ness in­struc­tor and cus­tom-built Mercedes-Benz tour buses make life on the road as seam­less as pos­si­ble.

In 1998, An­dré was on Span­ish soil, film­ing his Ro­man­tic Mo­ments DVD in Mal­lorca’s medieval palace in Raixa, where he played dreamy songs in­clud­ing Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet and Plaisir d’Amour.

The in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned mae­stro has many favourite places and venues to per­form. “It’s hard to say… Peo­ple all over the world are so happy when they come to our con­certs. It doesn’t mat­ter where they come from, the mo­ment we start to play for them, the au­di­ence and the orches­tra seem to be­come one big, happy fam­ily or band of friends. Mu­sic re­ally unites peo­ple. I have that same feel­ing in ev­ery place or venue I go to, whether it’s Europe, Asia, South Amer­ica or the United States.”

His epic 2014 World Tour out­sold Ed Sheeran, Rod Ste­wart and Bey­oncé, while he em­barks on an­other World Tour in Ger­many in early 2018.

His cur­rent tour sees him in coun­tries in­clud­ing France, the UK, the Netherlands, Aus­tria, Chile and Mex­ico. Well-known in the US for his wildly-pop­u­lar PBS spe­cials, An­dré’s Amer­i­can US tour kicks off on 19th Oc­to­ber and takes in Phoenix, Las Ve­gas, San Diego, Los An­ge­les, San José, Sacra­mento, Fresno, Ta­coma, Port­land, Tampa, Orlando and Sun­rise.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to tour the United States and Canada again,” he says. “Our North Amer­i­can fans have a great at­ti­tude and al­ways show their en­thu­si­asm right from the very first note.”

What can fans ex­pect? “I love to sur­prise my au­di­ence, so I am not go­ing to tell you in de­tail, but the pro­gram will be a mix of waltzes, film scores, mu­si­cals, folk songs and, of course, some great Amer­i­can Clas­sics. There will be many in­ter­na­tional soloists, my 60-piece Jo­hann Strauss Orches­tra and me, of course! We will open our hearts for you and will make you dance in the aisles and give you an evening you will never for­get!”

An­dré’s new al­bum, Shall We Dance, is out this month. “It fea­tures some of the world’s most beloved clas­sic songs in­clud­ing The Blue Danube, Love in Venice, Bolero, Zorba’s Dance and more. It will also in­clude a sep­a­rate, live DVD.”

KING OF THE CAS­TLE… CHILD­HOOD DREAMS RE­ALLY CAN COME TRUE!

He may reg­u­larly travel the globe but, for An­dré, home is where his heart is, his home city of Maas­tricht, the cap­i­tal of the Dutch Prov­ince of Lim­burg, where he owns a ro­man­tic, and leg­endary, cas­tle.

Dat­ing back to1492, De Toren­t­jes (mean­ing “The small tow­ers”) is Maas­tricht’s only cas­tle and leg­end has it that it was here that the real D’Artag­nan (on whom Du­mas’ char­ac­ter was based) had his last break­fast be­fore he died in bat­tle serv­ing King Louis XIV.

An­dré took piano lessons in his jaw-drop­ping 15th-cen­tury home as a child and dreamed of liv­ing in it and filling it with chan­de­liers and paint­ings. That dream is now a re­al­ity.

“As a boy, I loved the The Ad­ven­tures of Tintin comic, in which the Cap­tain Had­dock char­ac­ter owned a cas­tle. Ever since, I’d dreamed about own­ing one my­self but my wife said, “You’ll have to sell a lot more CDs for that”. So I did, ha ha!”

Known as the mod­ern “King of the Waltz”, An­dré is also a true “King of Ro­mance”. He and Mar­jorie, his child­hood sweet­heart, have been mar­ried for over 40 years and have two sons and five grand­chil­dren. Mar­jorie man­ages the con­certs and cre­ates the sets and cos­tumes while their son, Pierre, now man­ages the busi­ness side of things, al­low­ing An­dré to con­cen­trate on the mu­si­cal as­pects. Their other son, Marc, is an artist, and An­dré’s im­pos­ing cas­tle serves as the per­fect ex­hi­bi­tion space for his paint­ings.

Com­pris­ing 27 rooms, a record­ing stu­dio, its own travel agency, a kinder­garten for the orches­tra mem­bers’ chil­dren and a com­plete ate­lier in which the cos­tumes for An­dré’s con­certs are made (the fe­male orches­tra

mem­bers wear pas­tel silk ball gowns that he de­signs him­self!), the im­pres­sive prop­erty also boasts an An­dré-de­signed or­angery, a grandiose green­house which is An­dré’s per­sonal sanc­tu­ary, filled with rare species of but­ter­flies, koi and other trop­i­cal fish, ex­otic birds, palms and flow­ers, in­clud­ing or­nate air-borne orchids.

The spec­tac­u­lar grounds boast ex­ten­sive gar­dens and this sen­sa­tional stately set­ting, en­com­pass­ing the sur­real, dream­like back­drop of An­drٞé’s fairy­tale cas­tle, makes the most mag­i­cal set­ting for his ma­jes­tic Christ­mas and grand New Year con­certs.

HIGHLIGHTS & DREAMS

There have been nu­mer­ous highlights for the clas­si­cal king of the stage. “Oh, so many… the per­for­mances in Vienna, in­clud­ing the World Sta­dium tour with a full replica of the Schön­brunn Cas­tle, New York and our open-air con­certs each sum­mer on the Vri­jthof, where this year we wel­comed 110,000 peo­ple from over 80 coun­tries.”

His “dream” waltzes to per­form? “There are so many beau­ti­ful waltzes, it is as if I was too choose be­tween my chil­dren. But I would prob­a­bly say, my dream waltzes are the Beau­ti­ful Blue Danube, which I play at ev­ery con­cert. I have also im­mensely en­joyed per­form­ing Sir An­thony Hop­kins’ com­po­si­tion And the Waltz Goes On. A waltz can be happy and sad at the same time. It can also be ro­man­tic and joy­ful… It has ev­ery feel­ing in one com­po­si­tion… and it is very dif­fi­cult to play!”

REACH­ING FOR THE STARS & THE MOON…

As an avid con­ser­va­tion­ist and peace lover, An­dré also car­ries out ben­e­fit con­certs for char­ity. “My wife and I have been back­ing a project in Burk­ina Faso, supporting the peo­ple who work so hard to con­serve their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment be­cause the desert takes much of their land. They plant trees etc. to fight it back.”

With his motto “Live your dream… don’t dream your life,” An­dré is also an aspir­ing as­tro­naut. Fas­ci­nated with space travel, he is in talks with Sir Richard Bran­son to build a con­cert hall on the moon to en­able us, one day, to waltz in space. His main mis­sion? To be­come the first artist to play on the moon. “Yes! That would be a dream come true. You’ll all be in­vited!”

FACTBOX

An­dré’s new al­bum Shall We Dance is re­leased on 6th Oc­to­ber. De­tails of An­dré’s forth­com­ing tour dates: www.an­drerieu.com/en/tour. His VIP travel pack­ages com­bine An­dré Rieu con­certs with first-class ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion, avail­able through An­dré Rieu Travel: www.an­drerieu. com/en/travel. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit: www.an­drerieu.com

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