ANDRE and his JSO,
turned on the charm for Kansas City.
                                                                                                                                 by Maggie Worman /Sonja

I only saw two concerts this year. The Dallas concert was wonderful and I got to enjoy
it with my son. Plus, I saw old friends, met lots of new ones at the fan dinner. The
highlight was meeting Dora Senn and Gerda Case, originally from Zurich, Switzerland,
who knew of Wormans living in one of the cantons there. My thanks to Barb Henderson
for her gracious hospitality, including a delicious Portuguese “lunch” prepared by her
husband Bill, and to Toots and Nathan Reeder for the fabulous tour - taking us through
Dealy Plaza and Oak Cliff, where President Kennedy was assassinated, showing us the
magnificent statuary all over Dallas, and visiting the Farmer's Market. After not seeing
him for a year, getting to visit with my son and new daughter in law was a joy. It was all
great - EXCEPT fighting work traffic through Ft. Worth and Dallas on the way home.
Never again, will I make that mistake.

But what a fantastic event the concert in Kansas City was! I drove up to KC, Thursday
morning with my friend, Vivian Price from Joplin. After checking in, we went to the hotel
restaurant for a bite of lunch and to wait for other friends to arrive. A woman in the next
booth stuck her head around the seat back and said,   “Can you ladies hold it down
over there, we’re trying to enjoy our lunch.”   It was my dear friend, Barb Wilson from
AZ. They immediately joined us. She, her husband Jeff, John and Bobbie deJong from
CA, Debbie Clark and Kay Newton from St. Louis, MO, and Sigrun Haertel from
Germany all stayed at our hotel and we had a grand reunion. To make it even better,
Andre and the orchestra stayed there too. It wasn’t long before the busses rolled up
and the entire orchestra trooped in. We watched Kerstin Cornelis, Andre’s tour
manager, hand them their check-in packets. We waved and said “Hi” as they passed,
but didn't try to stop them to talk. They were rushing to get settled and go to the
auditorium for the sound check.

We all got together for a great dinner at the Hereford House – you haven't eaten good
STEAK until you eat one in Kansas City. We have the best beef in the USA – corn fed
Angus from Iowa, and so tender you wonder how the cow walked. We went back to the
hotel and headed to the auditorium, just across the street and short walk half way down
the next block. I must say, the folks at KCPT learned well from their very first
experience with a Rieu concert last year. This was very organized and efficient. Waiting
for concert time, I had a chance to talk with my friend, Carrie Habib, Executive Vice
President of Productions, and responsible for our great seats in the second row. It was
Carrie who arranged for me to give Andre the quilt last year. I also got to talk with
Thelma Bigley from Liberty, MO – one of my many Andre Friends whose picture is on
my wall. The Municipal Auditorium is not as large as other venues, but the fans more
than made up for its smaller size. The floor seats were packed and most of the upper
tiers well filled. Looking at the crowd you could actually feel their excitement and
anticipation. Promptly at 8:00, Bonnie Rabicoff, Vice President of another KCPT
department , came on stage, briefly thanked the audience and PBS members for their
support, and introduced and welcomed Andre Rieu and His Johann Strauss Orchestra.

As the first trumpet note sounded the entire audience was
on their feet facing the back to see them come in. Barb
Henderson had given me US and Dutch flags she had left
over from Dallas and we waved them. Deb and Kay also
had Maastricht flags. When Andre saw them, his eyebrows
lifted in surprise and he smiled broadly. I have never seen
him look so good.   After eight concerts and ten long, tiring
days on the road, usually the strain is showing on all of
them. I’m so proud of the welcome given Andre by my old
home city. The entire crowd was so responsive, clapping with the music, waving their
arms, and on their feet with standing ovations, yelling "Bravo" nearly every number.
They were really on fire! Don't take my word for it, read Andre’s comment about KC in
the clip on his website. I’d never seen him get really “turned on,” but he certainly was
this night. Barb Wilson kept poking me, saying, “Look at him, he’s magnificent! I've
never seen him look so fantastic!” Somewhere between Dallas and KC,  he got a great
haircut - with every hair in place, not flying like it sometimes does, and it wasn’t  heavily
sprayed with hair spray. It was literally shining, and little gold highlights gleamed under
the lights. His face was very relaxed without a trace of fatigue or strain. And he was so
full of energy, jumping up in the air, dancing around the stage, and cracking joke after
joke with the audience, all of this, all through the concert. A dozen or more couples
danced in the aisles. One pair was superb, doing all the beautiful variations of steps to
the waltz up and down the center aisle. It was obvious they'd been waltzing together for
years. Andre watched them with a happy smile on his face. Response-wise, it was the
best concert I've ever seen, bar none. Even better than the second one in Chicago last
year when he cut loose in much the same way. Debbie, Kay, and Sigrun all three said
the St. Louis audience was rather subdued, with no one waltzing, and Andre was
somewhat reserved.

The program was shorter than previous years, but packed with outstanding numbers.
The Platin Tenors were stupendous, and the audience loved them. Carla absolutely
blew them away with that magnificent voice coming from such a petite body. Not to
mention those adorable little flirtations that endeared her to the crowd. Frank’s solo on
the carillon was just awe inspiring. I thought they would never stop applauding his
performance. His duel with Marcel on the xylophone, left them marveling at their
incredible talent. Roland and Noel’s “Anvil Antics” had everyone nearly rolling in the
aisles. But it was Suzan who absolutely stole their hearts with “Don’t Cry For Me,
Argentina.” I saw many around me with tears in their eyes. Others were simply
mesmerized by her beauty, and the beauty and emotion in her face and voice. Andre,
the orchestra, and vocalists were tremendously appreciated, and acknowledged with
long, standing ovations and cheers throughout the entire concert. Andre’s face was full
of pride for his musicians and his immense pleasure with the audience. At the end of the
program, when he said it was time to stop, they begged for more. Encores began, the
balloons came down, and there were still more encores. Each time one ended, there
were calls for one more, two more, FIVE more! We formed a Conga line and paraded
around the whole auditorium, kicking balloons aside, Carrie from KCPT leading the way.
Andre grinned through it all, treating us to nearly a dozen encores. Just before the final
“Lullaby,” he thanked the audience warmly and straight from his heart. Praising them
again and again for their wonderful enthusiasm, Andre said: “You are a fantastic
audience. This is why we do this. This is why we come here to play our music for you."
He smiled and winked as he added: "We will be back.” The audience was overjoyed!

In the 9 concerts I’ve seen over the last three years, I never heard him go to such
length with thanks and appreciation anywhere else. I wish I could have seen some of
the Florida concerts. I understand they, too, were very, very "alive" for him. Afterward,
at a short meeting for the VIP ticket holders, there was a drawing for KCPT’s special
prize. — an all expense paid trip to Berlin for two days and nights and two tickets to the
Rieu concert there in 2007.  While we were waiting, Carrie told me that KCPT is
already in negotiations for next year and would let me know as soon as the dates were
set. I will pass that information on when I get it.  Kirstin Cornelis arrived, and pulled the
winning name out of fifty in a big fishbowl. It wasn‘t me, but we were all given a copy of
the special new DVD made for PBS, Welcome To My World. When I first heard this
was a surprise for Dallas, I was sure Andre would never single out any one city for such
a gift. He didn’t. It does come only with the prime tickets, but it is not exclusive. I’m by
no means sure, but it seems logical that the PBS organization won’t up the opportunity
to offer them on later pledge drives – if they can get them. Keep your fingers crossed
for everyone to have a chance to buy one.

One last thing, and I saved the best for last. As many of you know, I broke my arm six
weeks ago. I don’t get the cast off until Monday, so had to wear it at the concerts. It
now bears 10 signatures of orchestra members and singers, including Bela and Gary. I
had so hoped for a chance to get Andre’s signature, too, but didn’t see him anywhere
after the concert until nearly an hour later. He came in the hotel quickly (wearing that
yellow leather coat) and disappeared just as fast. Just before leaving the hotel the next
morning, I was looking in my purse and saw I didn't have the Dutch flags Barb
Henderson gave me. I’d left them on a chair in our room. I went back to get them, and
guess who was getting off the elevator? My eyes must have been begging and
pleading, because I was so stunned, all I could think of to say was “Please?” and hold
up my arm. He  just looked at me, grinned and nodded. How I got that Sharpie marker
out so fast, I'll never know. I handed it to him and he signed my cast right there at the
elevator with his body guard looking on. It had been hard for everyone to write on the
rough surface, also the cast is loose now, so it wiggles. Andre lightly steadied it with
one hand as he signed. Thank goodness, in my foggy daze, I had the presence of mind
to thank him. He nodded again and was gone. Wow! Ten seconds of his time and his
DNA on my cast! Thinking back, I hope he doesn't think I'm a total idiot. Just duizel.
Right Monique? (dow-zel is dizzy in Dutch) I’ve drawn a line down a narrow space on
the cast where they can cut it Monday, and touch no signatures. I’m keeping that cast
FOREVER! I don't know where my mind went in those ten seconds, but I could kick
myself for not asking Andre - WHAT DID YOU DO WITH MY QUILT?
Gary Bennett  T. Holmes (the US
tour guide for the busses)
Franco,  Bela and Carla
Teun and Suzan
Pierre ....... and that blue thing
up at the top is ....
Andre Rieu