Manoe has been with Andre's JSO from the beginning of the JSO. Andre started
the JSO in 1987, with only 12 people. The first performance was in 1988.
I asked my friend Paula to write a bit about Manoe. Paula was born in
Maastricht. She lived around the corner from Manoe's grandparents, and is
friends with Manoe's mother, Lieke.
Paula wrote the following
I first met Manoe when I took my three youngest children to
Maastricht. I wanted them to see the city where I was born and
meet some of my friends and relatives. While there, I found out that
there was a tour bus going from Maastricht to Paris for 4 days and
decided that that would be fun for the kids. My aunt Paula decided
to go with us and somehow Manoe and her grandmother became
involved in this trip as well. My daughter, Debbie, was the same age
as Manoe and both of them being teenagers at the time, bonded
very quickly. We had a great time.
Manoe’s grandparents lived around the corner from our house in
Heer, a little town bordering Maastricht. It was annexed to Maastricht
quite a few years ago. Manoe’s mom, Lieke, and I attended the only elementary school for girls in
Heer. She was a year younger than I was. She played violin and sometimes she and I would try to
play a duet. My piano playing, however, left a lot to be desired. Lieke also played the accordion.
Obviously, this talent for music had to originate somewhere. Manoe’s grandfather was really
gifted, not only in music but also in writing skits for comedians, and songs for the annual Carnival
Berke, as we called him, started at the Conservatory in Maastricht after he finished elementary
school, but did not attend very long because he had to go to work and help his family. As I
remember him telling me, it was the depression that changed everything for him. Lieke was
Berke's only child and Manoe his only grandchild. When he sensed her aptitude for music, he
began to teach her. Her mom told me that he taught her to read music before she even knew her
In 1976, when my husband and I visited Maastricht again, Berke decided he wanted to see
America and asked if he could travel back with us. He arranged everything in a minimum of time. I
got to know him then as a real Mensch. He had a real empathy for his fellowman and always knew
how to help with a kind word or deed. The following year, he and his wife came to the U.S. again.
We were still living in Mobile, AL, and he asked if I would take them to Disney World. My two sons
went along and we had a great time. He amazed me when we passed a road sign that read,
“Swanee River” and a bar of musical notes underneath the name of the river. He was sitting in the
backseat of the station wagon and we were traveling at 65 miles per hour. We flashed by that sign
and he whistled, “Way Down Upon the Swanee River.” He had never heard that song in Holland
and yet, just by reading the musical notes in the flash that it took to go by there, he hummed the
Upon his return to Maastricht he started writing me every week. Airmail letters, the ones you did
not have to put a stamp on. Does anyone remember those? His favorite subject was his
granddaughter and he kept me up-to-date on her progress at the Conservatory. He was especially
proud when he started telling me about his plans to have a Clarinet built for her in Germany. He
gloated when he told me the story of how, on a trip to Switzerland, as tourists, people were asked
to blow the Alpenhorn. Manoe stepped forward and blew on that horn till the sound echoed all
around them. “She was the only one who could do it,” he wrote. His pride in her was visible
between the lines. When I see Manoe in concert, I always envision Berke standing behind her. As
her mom told me over the phone once, “I am sure he can see her and is proud of her.”
Manoe’s mom has not heard her daughter play for many years. She is deaf. However, this year
she will have an operation that will restore 80% of her hearing. I wish I could see her face when
she finally hears her daughter play. I am sure that Berke will be there too, in spirit, and bless them
Manoe, Debbie and Matt in 1979
during the trip to Paris.
Manoe Konings was born In Maastricht on March 10, 1961. Manoe is very talented and has
a great sense of humor. She is also a very courageous young woman. Manoe was diagnosed
with cancer, fought that disease and won. In 2001 she was very ill, but as soon as she was
able to make music again she was back on stage playing her music.
Her first performance after her illness was during a benefit concert for the Jose Carreras'
Leukemia foundation. She had just undergone Chemo therapy and returned to stage for the
first time. When Jose Carreras introduced Andre and the JSO he said: "Manoe Konings she
plays again full of enthusiasm". "Manoe says, It is the music which has given me strength! And
I know that all too well."
Manoe had lost all her beautiful hair and performed with a bald head.
Manoe at the Jose Carrera's
benefit concert 2001.
Manoe's replacement during her illness was a friend of hers. She
later wrote an article about her time with the JSO. I am afraid I no
longer have the article, but I do remember that she wrote that it was a
very exciting time for her and very busy. On the road a lot, she does
have a family and at the time had a small child and that made it hard,
but she loved doing it for the time it lasted. She went back to teaching
music after her time with the JSO. I also recall her saying that Andre
was strict but fair and very much a perfectionist.
We by now have all heard her beautiful
rendition of Amazing Grace. I heard
that Manoe said, that she was able to
learn to play the bag pipes pretty
quickly. But do not have confirmation
on that. We do know that she is
great on it and when she played
'America the Beautiful. there was not a
dry eye in the house.
Saxophone and Mandolin
During a German Television
show I saw Manoe also can play
Together with Renate Dirix and Lin Jong,
Manoe was one of the Andre sisters and they
sang a medley of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy /
South American Way / Bei Mir Bist Du Schon /
In The Mood / Rum And Coca Cola / Tico Tico /
Say Si Si -
During the encores of the tour Dreaming
Manoe together with Renate Dirix sang
Tiroler-Rock, Manoe sang the Rock part.
Rock around the clock, Blue Suede shoes, etc
About her performance as a rocker she said.:'It is literally the high point of the evening for me.
During the whole concert you have to be at the top of concentration, and then you can let loose,
that is a wonderful feeling. I do not have any trouble with nerves. Every evening I am itching to
get started. People sometimes ask me if it is not tiring to do all that jumping and swinging on
stage during the encores, after playing the whole concert. Not at all, I actually get a lot of energy
from it and we are always sorry when the concert is over.
On tour you will often see Manoe with a
list of all the orchestra members in her
hands. She has to make sure everyone
is on the buses before they leave. In
Columbus she told me the job was
assigned to her after they left one of
the orchestra members behind. He
had gotten on the bus, realized he had
forgotten something and left the bus.
They did not know he had left the bus
again and started out for the next
Venue. They had to return to pick him
I do not think she drives the bus,
but is making sure everyone gets
on the bus. However she does
make Maastricht unsafe by racing
around on her motorcycle.
Andre Rieu to bring classics to Portland
By Deborah Turcotte
My friend Debbie wrote the following about Andre's visit to Portland, ME. She was able to talk to Manoe, who was in
France, on the phone and ask her a few questions. She went to the concert in Portland and later said: even though she had
not seen Manoe in many years it seemed like time fell away. Debbie is a free-lance writer.
Upon parenthood, classical music became cool. First it was the "Mozart for Mothers" compact disc
that was included in a baby-formula manufacturer's complimentary diaper bag given to me at a
prenatal visit. The intent was simple - I would play the music to relax during the pregnancy and as
an added bonus I would boost my child's brainpower because, after all, studies have shown that a
child's intelligence level is increased by a regular dosage of classical music.
And then there was the Baby Einstein collection of videos, the brainchild of an entrepreneurial mom
who set classical music to the vivid imagery of the outdoors or the movement of noncommercialized
toys. Soothing, attractive and a big hit in my household.
And mostly there is my mother, Paula, who along with my dad, Paul,
took daily care of my daughters, MaggieBeth and Lauren, for a
couple of years. My parents, especially my mother, are groupies of
Andre Rieu, a Dutch violinist and orchestra leader who has attracted
worldwide audiences with his suave, entertaining renditions of the
classics. Videos of his performances would play in my parents' home,
and all four would dance and hum along.
Now my daughters, too, are groupies.
"Mom, MOOOMMMM, there's Andre Rieu! He's on TV!" my
daughters will scream when I tune into one of his concerts on Maine Public Television.
It seems fitting that Rieu will perform on Mother's Day, May 9, at the Cumberland County Civic
Center in Portland, a fund-raiser for Maine Public Broadcasting. My parents received their tickets
through an annual pledge, and will meet Rieu after the show.
My mother's fascination with Rieu goes beyond one of her chance viewings of his performances on
Maine PBS. The two share a heritage, both having grown up in Maastricht, the Netherlands. And an
old Dutch friend's daughter Manoe Konings has played the clarinet and saxophone in Rieu's
orchestra, the Johann Strauss Orchestra, for more than 10 years.
Rieu's popularity goes beyond our households. He's another European act that has captivated
millions of people through exposure on public television, combining pageantry and grace with a
sense of humor.
"He just has this way of catching people's attention," Konings said, speaking by phone between
performances in southern France.
Rieu's shows fire the imagination, carrying the viewer to majestic European concert halls where the
Johann Strauss Orchestra's women musicians perform in elegant, flowing ball gowns.
And, yes, Rieu is a sight to behold too. He is a suave, charismatic and engaging musician. His
shoulder-length brown hair somehow never gets in the way when he performs.
Konings said Rieu is both charming and grounded. She noted the violinist has been married for 26
years and has two grown children.
"He made it because of her," Konings said. "She was always pushing him."
On his Web site, Rieu states that he wants his audience to play along, to not sit still as if it were a
"I like the audience to enjoy the music as if at one with the orchestra, moving, humming or clapping
to the rhythm," he said. "By nature, I'm a fairly cheerful person, and I prefer to have a lot of humor
in my life. That's why I want to make my concerts cheerful and the audience, as well as myself, to
enjoy the music from the heart. The atmosphere of reserved aloofness that puts a lot of people off
classical music is completely absent from our concerts."
Rieu grew up in a household filled with classical music, taking his first violin lesson at age 5.
Konings was taught to read music by her grandfather before she learned the alphabet, and he had
a custom clarinet made for her in Germany. Both Rieu and Konings studied classical music, and in
the 1980s, Rieu asked Konings to join him in his orchestra.
"We were just doing some concerts in Holland, and then we recorded the 'Second Waltz of
Shostakovitch,'" Konings said. "One whole year we were on the Top 10 of the hit parade, and
everything exploded. After that, the world came."
For Konings, it's an energizing feeling to see and hear an audience respond so enthusiastically to
one of the orchestra's performances. Children, too, are welcome to join in the colorful spectacle.
"Being onstage is the most wonderful thing you could be doing, looking out and seeing thousands of
people smiling," she said. "As you see on television, we have fun. We have a group of people who
really love classical music."
Debbie and Manoe in 1979
at age 18
Bag pipes Mandolin
Maggie-Beth and Lauren loved