EXCLUSIVE: André Rieu on '2015 Maastricht Concert' U.S. Premiere with Johann Strauss Orchestra
By now, we all know André Rieu. That exceptional Dutch violinist and impresario who has made a name for himself, near literally, as the, quote, "King of the Waltz." However, if you've somehow not yet had the pleasure to take in all that maestro Rieu and his 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra (founded 1987) are about, you're in luck, indeed.
This Tuesday, October 20, all that musicianship and magic that was on stage for Rieu and band's one-night-only "2015 Maastricht Concert" is coming to movie theaters all across this country.
Maastricht's native son, Rieu's concerts -- be they there where the Meuse River meets the Jeker, or anywhere else where classical music crosses over -- are never bereft of spectacle. To wit, a one-night-only autumn screening of one of his most popular summer performances makes perfect sense on the silver screen.
Case in point: Across the pond, the U.K. showing of Rieu's "2015 Maastricht Concert" broke box office records, putting some 90,000 people in cinema seats.
And on the money side, as the Independent duly noted, that screening grossed more than 1.1 million British pounds sterling. Here in America, even with a slightly improved dollar, is there any classical musician capable of breaking the million mark?
Save for André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra, of course.
Classicalite: For starters, how did this year's stretch of Maastricht concerts compare to those runs in the past? The series seems to grow in size every year, and there's an obvious increase in quality, too.
André Rieu: This year's Maastricht concerts were fantastic. For my orchestra and me, they are the highlight of our year. It's always been a dream of mine to perform in my own hometown. We played for an audience of 80,000 people -- the whole square, 10,000 -- every night. It's our 11th year now, and we do eight concerts each year. The highest quality has always been important to me. That's the standard we want for all our concerts around the world.
C-LITE: Having premiered already in U.K. cinemas, were you surprised by such a grand turnout? Sure, your broadcasts are always popular. But here, in your own hometown, for so many people to experience that particular program...
AR: We've had growing numbers over viewers each year, which, of course, is fantastic. It's wonderful to be able to share these moments with viewers around the world, showing them not only a wonderful concert, but also a bit about this beautiful medieval Dutch town of Maastricht. This year, we've had visitors from 76 different nations. That's wonderful!
C-LITE: And this Tuesday, the United States will make 77 nations.
AR: Of course. And I hope everyone will enjoy it and spend an entertaining evening full of romance, fun and joy with us.
C-LITE: Are you expecting the same kind of reception here in the U.S.? Do you feel that the appreciation for your classical -- or even "pop classical" -- stylings is the same the world over?
AR: Yes, it is the same all over the world. But I do not see myself as a classical musician, or my concerts as classical concerts. They are totally different. I want to entertain and bring out emotions. To see thousands of happy faces each night in front of me makes me very happy.
C-LITE: Finally, are you, André Rieu of Maastricht, Netherlands, the one, true "King of the Waltz?"
AR: There is only one, true "King of the Waltz." And that's Johann Strauss! That was a name given to me by the media, because he's my favorite composer and, like him, I play the violin and conduct the orchestra, myself. I am able to live my dream, and, of course, I will be eternally grateful to my fans and to Johann Strauss for that.
Again, André Rieu's "2015 Maastricht Concert" with the 60-strong Johann Strauss Orchestra, sopranos, tenors and other invited (surprise) guests will screen only on October 20, 2015. Classicalites, click HERE to find your local participating cinema, via Fathom Events.