Concert experience of May 2005,  by Cathy Camarda

On May 18, 2005 my cousin Annette and I arrived at our hotel in Portsmouth,
New Hampshire at around 1:30pm.  After checking in and unpacking we were looking
for something to eat since it was now around 3:00pm and we were leaving for the
concert in Durham, New Hampshire at 6:00pm.  When we were just about finished, I
looked out the window and there coming down the road was one of Andre's buses.  I
immediately asked for the check and proceeded into the lobby thinking I would
see Andre.  The only person I saw there was Kerstin, his tour manager.
At that point, we went back to our room to prepare for the concert.

We had excellent seats, Row 5 center section.  The concert, as anyone who
attended one, was outstanding.  I loved the selection of music Andre chose.
The waltzes were back, the singers were not overpowering, and the encores
just kept coming and coming!

I am sure you saw the balloons that fell during that concert, we were "buried
alive" in them.  We had a hard time getting out since the people behind us
were tossing them forward but eventually we did get out from under them.
I'm sure he did this in all of the concerts but in Durham, he asked how many
people were from Durham and surprisingly we saw no hands go up!  Andre said
"No one is from Durham?" and still we saw no hands.  I think he was quite
surprised because he said, then were are you all from?  And, of course, a
million towns, cities and states were yelled out to him.

After the concert, we were able to chat with Arthur (oboe) and Carla came out and
gave me an autograph, so did Teun (flute).  Teun was cute, I asked him for his
autograph and he wrote it out and said to me "I wrote flute under my name so that you
will know who I am". I said to him, I know who you are and you are wonderful!

Finally around 11:00pm, Andre came out and Annette said "here he comes".  I
didn't see him coming but I should have.  He had on his bright yellow coat.
He came over and said "Hello Ladies".  I said hello and said I had a gift for Wily.
He said "A gift for Wily?"  I said yes and gave him a pet collar charm.  
I saw it on the Internet and thought it was so cute.  It was pewter about the size
of a quarter, shaped like a heart and on it was inscribed "I'm a lover, not a biter".

It was so dark that he could barely see it, but he looked carefully at it.  He then gave it
to his "big" bodyguard and signed a book for me and a CD insert for Annette.  Then he
left to get on the bus.

Annette and I went to our car in the parking lot and I said to her " how are
we going to find our way back to the hotel" when the buses pulled out just
at that moment.  We got behind the first one and the second one was behind
us.  We followed them right to the hotel. We were in the same hotel,  What luck!

By the time we parked our car.   The orchestra, Kerstin and Andre were in
the lobby.  I needed to find out if where I parked was OK so I was standing
behind Kerstin at the Reception Desk.  Andre was just sitting in a chair
in front of us and several other members of the orchestra were there too.  
Kerstin was asking about transportation to Boston for some of them, who
were flying back to Holland the next day.  The person behind the desk couldn't
give her much info on Boston but did say that there was a shuttle that went to Logan
Airport that they could use.  She asked again about info on
Boston but he was no help. I said to her, Kerstin, I live in
Boston I may be able to help you.  She wanted to
know how far downtown Boston was to the airport. I gave
her all the information she  needed while Andre was just still
sitting in that chair.  Kerstin was happy,
Andre looked tired and Annette and I went to our room!

The next morning we came down to breakfast to find the room almost filled
with the orchestra members.  Annette and I did get a table and we were just talking
when some of them near us said "we saw you last night at the concert".  I was
surprised to hear that, but then again being in the 5th row and just about 6
feet tall with my 3 inch heels, how could you miss me!!

They had a free day so they were looking for things to do, just like us.  We
ended up going into Kittery, Maine to the outlets and while we were having an
ice cream sitting outside we saw some of the orchestra members walking past us.
We got back into our car and went back to the hotel and they were headed that
way also.  Since we ate that ice cream we decided to use the fitness center
in the hotel.  When we were coming down in the elevator, some woman told me
that Andre was having a power lunch in the dining room.  I said to Annette,
let's sit in the lobby for a while and see if we see him.  He wasn't there
but we decided to sit for a while anyway.  I thought of going upstairs to
see if maybe he was eating in the bar but he wasn't.  As I was talking to
the bartender, I see Annette who was sitting on a sofa in the lobby trying
to indicate to me that Andre had just come in the front door.  I had to come
down this sweeping staircase and here I am dressed in stretchy pants,
T-shirt, socks and sneakers! At the bottom of the steps
sat Andre in a chair all by himself.  I thought, Oh, please
God, don't let me fall down these stairs"  That would
have just been hysterically funny!  Anyway, down I come
and I thought "he saw me looking so good last night,
now he is seeing me at my worst" I wonder what he is
thinking?  So I just sat down in another chair and started
talking with Annette and I never approached him.

I think that being at the concert and interacting with him or going
backstage or to a meet and greet is OK but in a hotel, that's private.  I
did not want to infringe on his personal time.  Andre does know me from
times he visited Boston, either at our PBS station or backstage at Boston
Symphony Hall.  That is why I think he felt comfortable just sitting there
alone.  Maybe if I had approached him he would have thought, now I have to
stay in my room all the time to avoid this.  That would not be right.  He
was making a cell phone call and during it he got up and started to pace up
and down right near us.  I wish I knew what he was saying!  After a while,
he went into a door and it was the private elevator to his suite.

Annette and I went down to the fitness center and while we were there, Ruud
Merx, a singer from the chorus and two other female orchestra members were
there also.  We had a great time speaking with them, especially Ruud.  We
were there for about an hour and we talked about many different things
including his little girl "she is starting to walk now and they have to
'child-proof' their house.  Lin Jong, his wife was home, "she with in the tour for the
first two weeks and then went home to the children" etc.  Lin was replaced by Jet
Gelens who stayed home with her kids the first two weeks of the tour. I said to Ruud,
"I bet she sends you updates of the children through your cellphone and he said "when
we are on tour we must give 100% to the tour and not family".

When we got back to our room we were trying to decide where to have dinner.  
We chose a restaurant and were ready to leave about 7pm.  While walking there,
Annette said to me "there he is".  There was Andre and about 12 others
sitting in a restaurant.  Andre was close to the window and he was looking
out. They had not eaten yet, just the bread was on the table.  You can't
imagine the restraint I had to keep me from going into that restaurant to
have dinner.  Then I thought again and just continued on, I didn't want him
to think I was stalking him!  When we finished our dinner we had to walk
back the same way and when I passed the restaurant again Andre had turned
his chair so that he was looking directly out the window but of course we
just walked by.   Previously I had heard Kerstin say that they would be leaving
at 8am on Friday morning.  I thought that if they were going to "party" before they
left, they would do it right here in the hotel so we decided that when we returned
from dinner we would go and sit in the bar.

The bar overhung the lobby so that we had a perfect view of the front door.
Around 9:30pm the orchestra started to come in.  At that time Andre's
bodyguard came into the bar and walked around.  I am sure he was
trying to see how many people were there.  There were about 5 tables
including ours occupied and I think that he told Andre that there were too
many people. I think if it was just us he would have come up knowing we would
never bother him.  Anyway, the orchestra started coming into the bar and a few
minutes later I heard this sweet voice coming from the lobby.  I went to the banister
and looked over and saw Suzan singing with the piano player in the lobby.

Seated in the lobby was Andre's bodyguard", Kerstin and
about 4 or 5 other orchestra members. The rest of us were
hanging over the banister listening to her.  When she finished
her song we all applauded and she looked surprised to see
us above her.  The piano player got up and Frank Steijns
took his place.  Suzan sang for about 45 minutes and she
included songs she sang in the concerts, on the Cd's and
some show tunes.  After a while they ran out of songs to
sing so they stopped.  As I wrote in the guest book, it was
an unexpected "private concert" and Andre missed it!!
We then took some pictures with Ruud, Marcel and other orchestra members.  
I spoke with one young girl when we were leaving to go back to our room and I told
her to have a safe trip to Montreal and she said to have a safe trip home.  I also
told her that I would see her in Maastricht and she said "Oh, you are coming
to Maastricht?  Come look for me!  I said OK!  His orchestra is so
friendly, so down to earth, they are a pleasure to be among.  He is very lucky!

I never saw Andre come into the hotel and at this point it was about

The next morning they left at 8am to go to Montreal and we headed home to
Andre Rieu concert bus
Bus from Hotel room
I met Cathy and Annette in Maastricht in July 2005, and we all had a wonderful time.   
On the new DVD 'Songs from my heart; you can see Cathy looking out the window
from the restaurant were we all had dinner.  She has a red flower in her hair.