I also want to add that when I got back home in Cincinnati, there was a letter from Andre Rieu BV.
It was in Dutch so this is a translation.  

Maastricht, July 29, 2003

Dear Mrs Harper.

I would like to thank you very much for all the mail you brought me from America and Canada.
I hope you understand that I can not possibly thank everyone personally, which is why I am sending you
this letter.  I hope you can thank them for me.
It is always very nice to hear and read how much enjoyment people get from our music. I liked the basket
with letters very much, and think it was a very nice idea.  
We will keep you informed about our tours and concerts through my website.

With friendly greetings
Andre Rieu

A month or so later I received a phone call from Lucine, a fan in Virginia.  She was on cloud nine.  She
had sent a letter with me in the basket to Aachen.  One of the 225 letters. Her daughter also sent a
beautiful letter about how Andre and his music makes her mom happy.  Her daughter enclosed a picture
with her letter, and yesterday she received a letter from Andre Rieu Productions. BV.  Her picture was
returned with a dedication and signed by Andre.    He is just such a nice man.  It also shows that the
letters were all read and as he wrote to me he can not possible sent everybody a thank you, but it is
clear that he took the effort to sent a token of his appreciation to some.   I am so happy my idea worked
and he liked to get all those letters and cards from everybody.     As he said he likes to hear how much
enjoyment his music gives his fans.  I believe that to him that is what makes all that hard work worth while.

Then one more thing about the basket, last year I was in Holland and was watching an interview with
Andre and Pierre on German TV.
A very nice interview and suddenly it became even more fun.  There in Andre's studio by the Music room
was the little Uncle Sam that had been attached to the basket.   They clearly had to have taken the effort
to make the little guy stand, because he is suppose to hang and is not very stable on his feet.
I really enjoyed seeing it.  It again confirmed that the basket had been a good idea and they did
appreciate it.   One of my friends had taped the interview for me so I was able to make this picture from
the TV.

Story to be continued with "The Oprah box".
The Andre Basket for Aachen
                                            July 11,2003

I had heard that Andre would not be coming to the US in 2003, and came up with
the idea to bring him a basket with cards and letters from the fans here in the States
and Canada.   I was going to a concert in Aachen and I would be able to give it to
him in Aachen.   My idea was to let him know that he had many fans in the US and
Canada and that we would love to have him return to our shores.    By the time I
had that idea there were about 150 fans on my mailing and I figured I should be
able to come up with a basket with mail.

After some pushing I was able to fill a nice sized basket and decorated it with flags from Canada and the
USA and some other little treats like a little Uncle Sam and a Canadian key chain.  I believe I had about
225 letters, some fans had friends and family write too.   The idea was to tell him a little about what his
music meant to us and how we would love to have him touring here again.  

Now I had my basket ready to go, but how was I going to get it to him???
I decided to write the helpdesk.  I wrote the following in Dutch and this is a translation.

Dear Helpdesk.

Would it be possible for me to meet with Mr Rieu for just a minute after the concert in Aachen?  I would
like to give him something special           out of name of many of his US and Canadian fans.

In a German chat the question was asked if it is possible to come backstage.  Andre's answer was: "That
depends totally on how sweet you ask".   So, please, please, please with sugar on top.      
Is that sweet enough???

I would also love to visit the studio, that too was asked in the chat, and received a positive answer from
Andre.   I thought I'll be bold and ask, after all if I do not ask I cannot get an answer.

I promised the fans here that I would write a report about the concert and that I would let them know if I
was able to give the surprise to the Maestro.   So I hope to be able to write a nice report for the fans
here on my mailing list in Canada and the USA.

Sonja Harper

I wrote a second time to let them know that I would be leaving the US on July 4, and that I would be at
the 3:00pm  concert. (
Andre had two concerts that day, one at 3 and one at 8) so if I was going to get an answer
it would have to be before then.    To my great disappointment did I not hear anything back.   

So I left for Holland,with my basket in a separate backpack, and on July 11, (
my birthday) went to Aachen
by train.  
(Click here for the concert report of this concert on the concert page)
I thoroughly enjoyed the concert,  I had seats in the fourth row and sat next to Gemma.  Amazingly she
and I had been writing, she knew about my basket and we then discovered we would sit right next to
each other.   
This is a picture of the Katschof,
where the concert took place.  It
is a large square between the
town hall and the cathedral
Toward the end of the concert I still had not given the basket and finally thought: "I will have to give it to
him on stage".    I handed the basket up to the stage when he walked of, he bend over and took it, said:
"Thank you, and was gone".

                       Oh, no, what a disappointment.   But then a blond young lady came up to me and            
                         said: "Are you Mrs Harper.   When I told her I was, she said: " I am Kerstin                   
                        Cornelis, Andre's manager and we have been looking for you all during intermission,        
                         I was asking everybody if they knew this  American lady.   Did you not get our               
                          message?   Andre wanted to see you during the intermission.   Oh, no I missed it,         
                          and I had already given him the basket.  How awful.   I told her I did not get any            
                          message and was very disappointed.   

So, I again became bold,  I really am a pretty shy person, but this was my only chance.  I asked her if it
was possible to see Andre now.    I would like him to sign my shirt.   She said that with two concert in
one day Andre normally would eat and take a nap before the concert at 8.00pm, but she is a very nice
understood that I was disappointed, and said she would ask.   She called Andre on his cell and he said it
would be okay.                 She took me in the back of the stage, where I was almost stopped by a
security guard, until she told him it was in order, in an elevator and to the dining hall.   Andre would come
shortly.   While I waited I saw several JSO members, they already had changed.  I also saw Manoe and
said hallo to her.  She looked good after her health scare and she told me she was doing well.    And
there came the Maestro himself, bodyguard in tow.    He was very friendly, he shook my hand (
no three
dutch kisses
) and put his glasses on to sign my shirt.  He told the body guards to hold it tight or he would
not be able to do a good job.  He laughed at the shirt.   

I told him we were all disappointed that he did not make it to the States that year and he said they were
too.  But it just did not work out.  He also said they are working hard to try and put a concert schedule
together for April/May of 2004 and will probably be traveling the East Coast and Mid West for a few
weeks.  He will let us know soon.   I think our basket helped speed it up, since he already let us know
that he  may be coming.   I told him how many people helped me put the basket together and he said he
thought it was a nice idea and he really liked it.  
Then he said okay let's take a picture and he put his arm around me. Of course automatically without
thinking, I did the same, and embarrassed the heck out of myself.          He just grinned.   I can tell you
he did not wear an undershirt.          I had several more questions I wanted to ask but the nerves  got the
better of me I even forgot to take my glasses off for the picture and he said good bye and was gone
before I knew it.             I went back down and several of the fans I had met through my site were
waiting for me.  Gemma, Peggy and several who's name I do not recall.   I was still on cloud nine and
went to collect my birthday present and buy the program. It took a little convincing at the boutique that it
really was my birthday. He asked if I knew Dan Lycan and said that he was surprised Dan was not at the
concert.   I ended up also buying a poster which now hangs over my computer to give me extra incentive
to spent time here.  During the concert Andre played Happy Birthday, and Carla came up like the puppet,
just like during the concert "Live in Dublin",  after that he said everybody who has a birthday would get his
newest CD as a birthday present.  Of course I have all his Cd's so I asked if I could have the calendar
During the concert he also invited everybody for a cup of coffee.     "     I come from Maastricht, have I
told you that?  In Maastricht we have 400 cafés.  How many do you have here in Aachen?  2?  Why do
you not all come and visit Maastricht, you can come and get a cup of coffee at my house.  "The coffee is
always ready at my house"    But when I went to Maastricht. He was not home.    I was going to take
him up on his offer, I thought I might even get a Limburger vlaai but no, he was not there.

Of course, had he been home I would never have bothered him.  Not during his private time!!!
This is a picture of Monica Das.  
You can see Gemma and I on
the left.  I am wearing a yellow
Kerstin in 2003