Working magic with the waltz

Working magic with the waltz

The magic of the waltz is what Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra hope to conjure up when they perform here for the first time on April 16.

The 64-year-old is known for his love of the characteristically triple-metered waltz and will be bringing a mixed repertoire of his signature waltzes and popular tunes to the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Rieu, who is based in the Netherlands, tells Life! in an e-mail interview about the first time he realised how "powerful and magical" waltzes are.

He says: "My father was the chief conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra in the Netherlands and I always used to go to his concerts.

"I remember that one night, when I must have been eight years old, he conducted Beethoven and Mahler, but for the encore, he did The Beautiful Blue Danube, one of the most famous waltzes by Johann Strauss. Suddenly, the atmosphere in the audience changed. People started to smile. It was wonderful. For me, it was a true revelation: This music will make you happy."

That incident left such an impact on the young Rieu that when he founded his own orchestra in 1987, he named it after the Austrian composer. Since its debut in 1988, the Johann Strauss Orchestra has grown from just a dozen members to more than 50 now.

Before founding his own ensemble, Rieu used to play the violin in his father's orchestra, but he says it "was not right" for him.

"For most of my colleagues, making music was more 'business as usual' than a passion or joy. I wanted to be able to choose my own repertoire," says Rieu, who is married to his production manager, Marjorie. The couple have two sons.

Rieu promises that his concert here will be nothing like the usual traditional shows.

He says: "Our concerts are not like the stiff classical concerts in philharmonic halls, which you may know. With us, it's always a big party at the end; people get up and dance. Everyone has so much fun, including all of us on stage."

For the concert, the pieces he will play include a waltz from Shostakovich, Memory from the musical Cats and the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune You'll Never Walk Alone.

While Rieu's repertoire straddles classical and popular tunes, he says the common denominator is that he selects them "with his heart".

"If a piece of music touches me, I know it will reach you too. It's important to me that a piece of music will create feelings in your soul, whether it'll make you happy or cry - but I want it to touch you.

"My concerts are always a colourful potpourri of the world's most beautiful waltzes, music from film, opera and musicals."

Book it

ANDRE RIEU & HIS JOHANN STRAUSS ORCHESTRA

Where: Singapore Indoor Stadium

When: Next Wednesday, 8pm

Admission: $98, $158, $198 and $268 from Sports Hub Tix (go to www.sportshubtix.sg, call 6333-5000 or 3158-7888 or purchase at SingPost outlets)

WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS

We are giving away 35 pairs of tickets worth more than $20,000 to Andre Rieu's concert next Wednesday.

One lucky reader will get an exclusive pair of premium tickets, valued at $1,700 each (includes show, pre-concert dinner, after-show party and an autographed picture).

Simply answer the question:

Which orchestra is Andre Rieu performing with in Singapore?

a. Singapore Symphony Orchestra

b. London Symphony Orchestra

c. Johann Strauss Orchestra

SMS your answer to 146077877 in this format:

STARRIEUAnswerNRICemailname

eg. STARRIEU A S1234567D marytan@gmail.com mary tan

Deadline:

Sunday, 11.59pm

Terms and conditions:

All correct entries will be eligible for a lucky draw on Monday at SPH News Centre.

Thirty-six lucky readers will each win a pair of tickets to the show on April 16. They will be notified by e-mail on the ticket collection details.

Staff of SPH and their immediate family members are not eligible to join the contest.

SMS entries sent via automated applications on or from computers, mobile apps or any kind of device are ineligible for the contest.

Each SMS costs $0.21 (w/GST).

All entrants below the age of 18 must seek parental consent.

We reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions without prior notice.

This article was published on April 9 in The Straits Times.

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