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Review: Andre Rieu enchants Seattle audience

By Katharina Weßels





Andre Rieu

Our German intern shares her impressions:

A tall man with shoulder-length dark-blond hair and a fancy black dress coat proudly appears on stage of the Key Arena, Seattle. With one hand he waves at the huge crowd of listeners that have come to see him this evening. In the other hand he holds his violin. He is closely followed by a group of people that wear glamorous ball gowns and elegant suits. As they make their way onto the stage, they wave, cheer and dance.  

The violinist in the front of the stage is Andre Rieu,  accompanied by the Johann Strauss Orchestra.  

It is December 11, another rainy Sunday in Seattle, and it doesn't feel like Christmas.  I wonder if Andre Rieu’s concert can change that this evening.  

The huge concert hall is full of people. About 25,000 have come to see the Dutch-native violinist virtuoso and conductor  and his incredible orchestra. Frankly, I am pretty surprised by the size of the crowd as I have expected to see just a small group of Europeans such as Dutch or Germans. Instead the audience is quite mixed, and indeed a lot of Americans  have come to see the show. 

The concert begins with popular Christmas Songs. When Silent Night is played the atmosphere in the concert hall is solemn. Initially, the song is only performed by the orchestra. Then the audience are asked to sing the lyrics. And they sing, as the song requires them to: very quietly. It is a very special moment, and I have to remind myself that it’s really Christmas. To be honest, I am getting teary-eyed.  

A lot of other Christmas songs are played. Mainly songs that are known all over the world, such as Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer or Winter Wonderland. The more vivid songs make the audience move, the slower once make them lean back, relax and think. 

After the break classical compositions are on top of the agenda. When Second Waltz is played, some couples begin to dance through the concert hall.

Rieu also introduces a female trio and the male complement. Rotationally they present songs like “Ob blond, ob braun” and “I could have danced." Another special moment occurs when the three female solists Kalki Schrijvers, Suzan Erens and Carla Maffioletti present the song “The Rose," a sad and deep-going ballad.  

From one moment to the next hundreds of colorful balloons are dropped from the ceiling and reach the audience. People are thrilled and call for an encore, though it perhaps drags on a little too long with the entire session lasting over an hour. However, some of the visitors just can’t remain on their seats and begin to dance through the Key Arena. Nothing relates to a typical stiff classical concert.  

Later I meet Kerstin Cornelis, Rieu’s International Director for Tour and Special Projects. I tell her I was surprised about the easy atmosphere as I had expected to experience another normal course of concert. I ask her, if every show looks like that or if I just saw a very American one. She assures that this is the usual course: a lot of people of nearly all ages having a big party together.  

During the Meet and Greet Kerstin introduces us to Andre Rieu. We can take pictures and chat a bit in German. Then a little boy, holding a small wooden violin in his arms stands in front of the door to the Meet and Greet. Though he is not invited he and his parents are asked to come in. Rieu is enthused by the little guy, kneels down to him and signs the wooden instrument. Another nice moment that I will keep in mind.


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