How I 'discovered' Andre!

In April 1995, I was in Holland on vacation and my Dad and I were watching the semi- final
of the UEFA Cup soccer.  Dad has always been a sports fanatic and when I was young
we always watched soccer and speed skating together, and we went to games and
events.  The semi final was between the Ajax from Amsterdam; and the Bayern Munich
from Munich. The first game of the semi-final was played in Munich and ended in 0-0  The
second game was played in the Ajax stadium in Amsterdam and it was an extremely
exciting game and before half time Holland was ahead 3 to 1.  So the fans were already
going crazy.  Then half time started and on walked this man with long hair and a violin.   
What in the world was that, during such an important and exciting game they had a
violinist???    And then he started to play!   It did not take long of all those soccer fans
were singing and swaying along.   Dutch and German alike.  I believe there were 65.000
soccer fans singing, swaying and waving flags to Andre's second waltz.  I was sold and
Dad loved it too,at home we too were singing.    

Ajax won the game with 5 to 2.  
(Ajax won the final against AC Milan with 1 to 0). And  Andre
scored a major hit with that performance.   Holland was Waltzing.  Andre became the
Waltz King.    Of course I had to go back to the US,  but since that experience whenever I
am in Holland I will hunt for CDs and videos.  

When Andre was on TV, my Dad would be yelling: "Sonja, your friend is on TV", even if I
was in the States.  He was just being silly, and Mom  would tell me
all about it.   Dad always used to call me when there were equistrian
shows on TV too. (
I think he kind of missed me) My Daddy passed
away in Dec 2000, at his funeral we played: Andre's Serenata with
the Nightingale, the Last Rose and 'Time to say Goodbye by Andrea
Bocelli and Sarah Brighton.  I miss him a lot.   For some odd reason
Andre often reminds me of my Dad.  What do you think, without glasses
and long hair, he does resemble him a bit.  

In 1996 Andre was on TV with PBS for the first time with 'From Holland with Love", and in
1997, Andre did his first tour of the USA.  On November 10, 1997 he came to OH and
played at the Battelle Hall at the Columbus Convention Center.  I went with a group of
Dutch friends and we had a blast.

Between 1997 and 2002, I did not do much to keep up with Andre and his JSO, but did
buy several of his Cd's while in Holland.  Too busy in my personal life.
But since the summer of 2002, I have been very busy with Andre and his music.  My son
says: Andre is Mom's solution to the empty nest syndrome.

There was one exception, for the promotion of the 1997 concert tour, PBS showed a
video clip of Andre playing the Second Waltz in Amsterdam and Kinderdijk.   He stood on
a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam and played.  He skated in KInderdijk
(not too well,
you can tell he is from the south of our country.     The North has much more
water and every one skates.  In winter if the canals were frozen sometimes I
even went to school on my skates
)  and the whole video was so
wonderful, that It made me homesick.    I decided that I would love to
have that video tape, so I called PBS to see if there would be any reruns
so I could tape it.   I was told it was a one time commercial for Andre
and they could not play it again.    I really wanted that clip badly.   So I
kept looking for it on the Internet.  Finally I located the people who made
the video for Andre.    I figured I can ask. So I called the company and
spoke to a very nice lady.  I explained to her what I wanted and she said
she understood and would be happy to sent me a copy.   It was of course
in PAL, but I have a special video player which does play PAL.   A week later it was in the
mail with a very nice note.  It is still one of my favorite videos from Andre.   She also told
me that the video had been planned for a while and finally they had set a date.  But
suddenly the weather changed and it was going to warm up a lot and they had to get it
done in a real hurry.   Everyone had to drop everything they had planned and film it in that
day, because the following day the ice would not be thick enough anymore.    

I started with translations of Andre interviews and articles in 2002.  I more of less rolled
into it.    On April 26, 2002 Andre Rieu and his JSO
gave another concert in Columbus, OH.  Since I did not really
wanted to go by myself, I did not decide to go until the very
last minute, when my daughter bought tickets for me and
for her as an early Mother's day present.   I was amazed
that the day before the concert I was able to buy two tickets in the front row.   Seats,
directly left of the aisle. They were great seats and we were on the right side right in front
of Marcel. It was great for me, but not so great for Andre and his JSO.   The hall was not
even half full and there were maybe 500 people.   My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed
the concert.  At the time,  Tamara still smoked and during intermission we stepped
outside.  It was a beautiful evening, and we saw several of the orchestra members
outside as well.    We walked over to them and talked to Suzan, (it was her first US tour)
Cord, Arthur and Karlien. (Karlien is not longer with the JSO, she has been replaced by
Agnes)  We had a nice chat and I asked how I could get Andre's signature.

They told me and at the end of the concert. And indeed I was able to talk to Andre for a
little while.  He signed  my book and my program.   He clearly was very unhappy with the
turnout in Columbus.  I told him that I had not seen any advertisements for the concert, (i
1997 for his first concert tour there were ads in the papers in Cincinnati)
and that I heard
from several people that they too just found out by accident.  

He had hired a promoter that time and as I heard later several Venues during that tour did
just awful, it was not just Columbus.  Andre had brought his buses over and all his
equipment and I felt very bad for him.  This musician who plays in Europe in front of
thousands did not do very well here during his tour here in 2002.

Shortly after this concert I looked Andre up on the Internet I found his website and a
website in French.  Martine's site, Martine lives in French speaking Belgium.        I wrote to Martine  (she speaks
) and offered to translate from Dutch to English for her, if she
ever needed it.    Less than a week later she wrote, she had an Dutch
interview that she would really like to put on her site.  I translated the
interview for her and she translated it from English into French.    
Thinking that it was too bad that nobody would read the English
version I put a note about the translation in Andre's guest book
and offered to e-mail it to whoever was interested.    Well I was
surprised by the response.   There were many English speaking
people interested in the translation.   I heard from Hong Kong, Brasil, Hungary,Australia,
England, South Africa and of course the US and Canada.
I spent several weekends e-mailing my translation out to those people.  A few weeks later
I did a second translation for Martine with the same result.

While I was sending out translations it was summer and I was on vacation from school, so
I had time.   However September was fast approaching and then I would not have time to
sent out all that mail.    

So "Andre Rieu translations" was born in August, 2002.   Not knowing that much
about computers my first site on AOL was set up by my daughter.   I sent a short form
letter to people from the US, who posted in Andre's guest book
( e-mail addresses were still
), telling them about my site.   I also suggested to fans that if they wanted to see
Andre on our shore, we needed to help promote him and to tell their friends, family,
colleagues and everyone willing to listen about our Maestro.

Since he was only seen on PBS and not that many people watch PBS on a regular basis.  
People who had heard about him, mostly found out by coincidentely coming accross one
of his concerts, while searching through the channels.  The only time PBS broadcasts his
shows is during pledge time and many people stay away from PBS even more during their
pledge time.   However fans who had seen him were very much interested!!!   After
sending out notices of my start-up website with translations I had a mailing list of many
fans in a short time and I started sending out news-letters.  At that time, the site and
writing became too much and Laurie Crowley started helping by notifying US fans about
my site.   

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.   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. etc

Continued on page: The Aachen basket.
Pictures captured from Video
I have done a little write-up with
pictures about this concert.
Link to 1997 Concert
The last six of these pictures are
captured from my tape.
Signature of Suzan Erens, Manoe Konings,
Arthur Cordewener, Karlien Opsteeg, Cord
Peters and of course Andre Rieu
Link to 2002 concert