How Does Rieu and Company Rehearse?

Troskompas April, 2010
How André Rieu and his orchestra prepare for the South African concerts becomes clear in the new road soap which starts on Friday, April 23rd. How does a normal week day take place for this musical group? Troskompas was there during the rehearsals.

On a Monday morning Troskompas arrives at the André Rieu studios located in an industrial area in Maastricht. At this hour it is about 9 AM, we don't hear any musical notes yet since the rehearsal time for the orchestra is 9:30 AM. Still it is rather crowded inside, all of the orchestra members are already there.

"Most of them are here at 8.30 AM, because they like to talk to their colleagues", says Kerstin Cornelis, André's P.R. manager. "André thinks that a good atmosphere in the orchestra is very important. That's why the complete group always departs together from the studios to start on a tour, whether it is a trip to Amsterdam or to Australia."

It is almost 9.30 AM and the orchestra members move into the studio where they'll do the rehearsals. The room is big, but cozy. There are a few pieces of scenery around and from the ceiling hang decorative lamps. André takes place behind his music stand and greets the musicians who are tuning their instruments. Today, amongst others, pieces of music will be recorded for the new CD "Songs for my Mum." (Since then we know that Title has been changed to "You Raise Me Up")
Listening With a Critical Ear
The orchestra starts with the cheerful "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from the musical “Mary
Poppins” (which recently celebrated its European premiere in the Netherlands). In the control room technicians handle the big mixing consoles. After the orchestra played this piece twice, André goes into the control room to listen to the recording in a critical manner. The end of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" did not meet with his approval. "Am I strict? Yes, but in a likable sort of way! If I would tell my orchestra members off, they would run away and never come back" he says laughingly.

A One Hundred Percent Effort
"André is not too strict in a sense, but he is a perfectionist", says cello player Tanja (37) a little bit later. "Everything has to be correct to within the smallest details. He commits himself 100% and that's what he also expects from his orchestra members. Tanja has been a member of the orchestra for 13 years and never wants to leave. The mutual atmosphere, the performances for enthusiastic audiences and the travelling make it a dream job", she explains while preparing herself to go across to the other side of the street to the child care center set up by André, where her son is being cared for while she and the orchestra are rehearsing. "Very handy! Now I don't need to drive all over to drop off or pick up my child".

Different Nationalities
In the meantime lunchtime has arrived. Violinist Frank (39) walks to the canteen to get a sandwich. "Only one evening in my life have I been without work! The day after I finished my musical education André called me and
offered me a job. I have been playing in his orchestra now for 16 years. Frank also speaks highly about the mutual atmosphere between the musicians. "It is one great group of friends. That way we always take a little bit of "home" with us on tour. The nice thing is that we do have a lot of nationalities in the orchestra. The new members speak fluent Dutch within three months and are completely integrated. They do not need Dutch orientation courses at all.” One of the foreign musicians is Boris (64) from Russia, who has been a member of the orchestra for 9 years. “What do I like about this job? I can play the kind of music I love".

Three Hours of Playing
The lunch break is almost finished. Near the percussionists, we meet Glenn (18). "As a 15 year old, I was already performing on stage with the orchestra during the summer concerts, and a little over a year ago I came here on a permanent basis", he says. He grew up with Rieu's music, Father Marcel (44) has been a member of the orchestra already for 20 years, also as a percussionist. Says Marcel, "I would not like to play with another orchestra. Previously I played in symphony orchestras, which meant a lot of waiting and counting. With Rieu, I am on stage for three hours, I also play three hours, and that is much more interesting".

Never a Vacation
When the rehearsal continues, Kimmy, a South African songstress who will be part of the tour in South Africa arrives in the studios. "Last night we already practiced a little together. I was brought to tears by her beautiful voice", says André to the orchestra members. Kimmy will rehearse later on this week with the orchestra. But first the pieces for "Songs For My Mum" are up, including one of them which is a "Heintje" classic, named "Mama". (Heintje, aka Hein Simons is a well known Dutch singer who at a very young age captured most of Europe with his wonderful voice.) Again it is recorded, listened to, and so it goes for a while, along with a lot of other pieces.
Around 12.30 PM the rehearsals are finished and the orchestra members return home. But not André, he still has a lot of items on his agenda. "Later on I have a meeting with a producer for a TV "Special" in Germany. Afterwards the choir will come to the studios to record the vocals for the new CD and tonight we are going to rehearse with Kimmy". The rest of the week is also fairly well filled up for the violinist and orchestra leader. And before he and his orchestra depart for South Africa, there is still a short tour to England.
"You ask whether I ever have a need for a vacation. The nice thing is that I do not consider my work as work since that is what I love to do most of all, so I do not need a vacation. Indeed I think I would be very, very bored!"

Thanks to Ineke for sending this article to us and John and Ineke for ©Translating it.