A week or so ago my counterpart over in our marketing department sends me an email and says we have a bunch of free tickets to a concert by a guy named Andre Rieu. “Andre Who?” you ask? Yeah, exactly. So I looked him up and he’s a violinist/conductor/whatever and he plays all around the world with his orchestra in tow and apparently he’s a pretty big deal. So I figured, what the heck, I’m always open for something new and interesting, so I grabbed a few tickets and my wife and I went last night.
Now I’ve never been to any type of orchestra or opera or anything of that sort. My only conception of this type of show is what I’ve seen in movies, so I fully expected this really stuffy atmosphere with a snotty, arrogant conductor leading a bunch of snooty musicians through some really boring music. That’s a pretty bleak outlook isn’t it? In fact, my buddy called me as we were walking in and invited us to have a beer and cigar across town, and as I was looking at the predominantly over-60 crowd, I nearly took him up on it. But we were there and we went in anyway.
What I experienced was actually one of the most thoroughly entertaining shows I have ever been to. Honestly, I’m still blown away. Andre Rieu is not some snooty conductor, he’s actually incredibly funny and works the crowd extremely well. He’s a guy who seems to honestly love playing music for people, and completely lacks the arrogance that so many musicians at his level have. His orchestra has 50 pieces and because of the way his show is designed, they aren’t just sitting there playing like robots, but they are actually rocking out and playing to the crowd.
The music was widely varied. Rieu played all sorts of pieces and I was surprised at how many I recognized. The musicianship was of course impeccable and honestly it would have been killer just to sit and listen to such great people play, but what really made the show dynamite was the stuff happening around the music. Often times throughout the show, there were sight gags going on, related to the music. For instance, he introduced a spanish bull fighting piece and told a “random” lady in the audience to be careful because she was wearing red. Then during the piece, two guys in a bull suit, complete with smoke coming from the nostrils, romp through the crowd and end up chasing the lady in red out through the back doors. It was very clever, and pretty funny.
At other times the musicians would interact with each other during the music depending on the theme of the piece. One guy pretending to get sick into another musicians tuba, another lady downing a glass of champagne and acting drunk through the rest of the song, it was just really, really clever and entertaining. Far more than just a music recital, it was a full on theatrical production.
I think my favorite parts though were the two pieces that each featured a female opera singer. I’d always envisioned opera singers as fat girls with viking horns singing some crazy songs in Italian or something. The girls were not fat! They did sing in Italian, but also in English, and I was blown away at the clarity and beauty of their voices. The incredible range these women have, and the control over thier voices was mind blowing. It was definitely the best part of the evening for me. in fact, I think I’d like to go see a full on opera at some point now.
I can’t say enough about Andre Rieu, and the experience reminds me that it’s important to stay open minded, and be willing to be exposed to new things in life or risk missing out on some really fantastic experiences.
Here’s a link to Andre’s website where you can check out some YouTube videos and such.