Music interview: Andre Rieu

Andre Rieu.
Andre Rieu.
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Andre Rieu is a Dutch violinist and conductor, famous for creating the Johann Strauss Orchestra. In 2009, he was named the most successful male touring artist by Billboard magazine.

As he prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his summer Maastricht concerts, which will be screened in cinemas on Saturday, July 19, he talks about battling nerves and making classical music appeal to the masses

He was fascinated by orchestras from a young age.

He said: “My father was a conductor and chief of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra. I used to attend all his concerts, even as a young boy.

“I remember that one night, I must have been eight years old or so, after a ‘serious’ program of Beethoven and Mahler, he had chosen to conduct Johann Strauss’s By The Beautiful Blue Danube as an encore. Suddenly the atmosphere in the audience changed.

“People started to smile. They had a completely different approach to this music, I could feel that it made them happy. That was what drew me in, the wish to make people happy with music.”

So what does he think about the new trend of screening concert performances in cinemas?

“I think it’s wonderful and a great opportunity to reach our audiences abroad that unfortunately won’t be able to join us live in Maastricht.

“I am sure if this would have been possible at the time of Mozart, Strauss, Lehar – they would all have done it.

“It does not replace the live experience when you are at a concert but it’s a great way to join in.”

And does he think it will bring more nerves?

“More nerves? Haha, that would hardly be possible. I’m always terribly nervous when I go on stage, that’s inevitable. I think every artist needs this tension before a performance. It’s necessary to really get the best out of yourself.”

Could this format once day replace touring?

“Oh no. There’s nothing as thrilling as getting the vibes from the audience and performing live for them. I would never give up touring.

“We will be touring the UK and Ireland in December and I hope all our fans will join us for a wonderful night. I mean, for example, it’s wonderful to watch a BBC documentary on Vienna, but it does not replace the feeling of actually being there. I see screening concert performances in cinemas as a wonderful addition to touring.

“We started in traditional venues and concert halls. But I always hoped that one day we would be able to reach as many people as possible.”

He will play at Leeds First Direct Arena on December 13.

Leeds-bound Paul Weller

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