André and Alice
VANCOUVER, host city of Olympic Winter Games 2010. This is a special year for many Canadians, athletes and visitors from around the world. But I wanted to make it more special for myself.Just like many fans, I ordered my concert tickets a year in advance and I was happy to get some Row 7 seats.
Although Mrs. Ed and I had our unusual luck with the RIEU buses in 2009, my luck didn’t apply to meeting André AND have a photo taken for free. When we’re in New York for Today Show, we’re wondering around Rockefeller Plaza a few times the same day when André arrived in the Big Apple. My parents and I were tired like dead pigs and we’re all taking a nap when André posted his Rockefeller tweet pic. (Darn!). Oh well, even if I were there at the same time, I didn’t think I would walk over and bother him but wave hello from a distance anyway. FINE!
No tweets from André for a little while after Maastricht DVD was recorded. "Dad" has been sick. Oh Boy! Not only UK was cancelled, but later the Aussies and Kiwis would have to wait too. We’re all so worried but the best thing for the world’s most popular unknown artist was a good rest. I prayed that he would recover for first time Mexico concerts, and continue their tour for the West Coast.
Some of you might remember I was telling the whole world about my wish of getting the André Rieu Experience Package for 2009, but eventually I didn’t want to leave my parents on their own. This year … hmmm … what if the push pin for Vancouver is taken off the tour map, what if they don’t do the meet and greet anymore, what if this, what if that … I was quite determined to be a "VIP" this year and yet, after all my monthly mortgage and retirement savings and the trip to New York, I didn’t have much $ left to pay for it. Sometimes I imagined myself playing guitar and singing Peter, Paul and Mary folk songs at a park or subway station to make extras, but I was just imagining.
My luck was on its way. I received a bonus from work which could cover the cost. My supervisor said "Don’t spend it on Andray Rooooo, spend it on yourself!" Hahahaha!!!! A week before cut-off … Oh! What the heck! Just do it or I’ll regret it for the rest of my life! I was happthe Row 1 ticket that came with the package would be taken care of and in very good hands.

The BIG Day’s Here!

Sound Check
4pm, Marthijn received us at the box office, distributed the credentials and we went inside Rogers Arena where André and the JSO were already rehearsing on stage. As I recall a fan mentioned last year, the sound check was really a "sound" check, i.e. not to be disturbed. We could take pictures as we wish but should remain quiet, and that’s totally understandable, or else André and the performers couldn’t hear well. All the lovely familiar faces of JSO were in front of us. Frank was busy taking pictures for the website from his seat on the stage. The Earth Song kids in white seem to be younger and younger, our local group had some really tiny ones. There was one "outstanding" cute little girl in front of Teun. She continuously made the wrong moves… raised her hands high up when others had theirs covering the heart, or the other way around, but she also got some serious moves, shaking her little shoulders for "What about us" . Even André had some good laughs. On and off he stepped onto his segway and I could see him from the edge of my eye that he’s going 100mph. Welcome back! Boss!

Dinner! Around 5pm, we went into the catering room where buffet was served. There were red table cloths and a variety of food and drinks, dessert and candies. Well, you know me, I LOVE food and I wasn’t shy. But I didn’t want to go to the restroom often so I ate less than my normal capacity and had a bottle of water. It was an interesting experience for me personally because I used to work for a social service agency and I coordinated fund-raising gala events at GM Place (now called Rogers Arena) and I had meals day and night in that same room many times. After I left the job I still coordinated all the dressing rooms activities for a few years as a volunteer, so it's very special for me to see JSO walking back and forth the corridor like I used to, except this time I didn't have my All Access Pass to get into the dressing rooms. We often had around 12 pop stars from Asia each year and I requested security guards to sit outside the dressing rooms to keep out uninvited guests, while this time the guards were there to keep us out! Fun! Our table was near the door and not long after I started eating, I saw Mirusia who’s walking out the room. I whispered to her and she was a bit surprised to see me backstage. The sweet girl later came in again and sat right beside me and we had a nice chat. I got an autograph for my "Always And Forever" and we took a pic. Frank was there too and Sebastian helped take a pic for us. He’s the cutest guy in the soap team.

Guess what Mirusia suggested? "Let’s do another Charlie’s Angels" I normally had quite a good memory but I was having so much fun then that I lost a little focus and couldn’t remember her exact words. Oh! We need one more girl, Judith was just 3 feet away and she helped fill the spot. There were some good laughs around us. I remembered when we took the one in Toronto 2007, Mirusia and Laura played cool while I carried a little smile, wasn’t sure if I was suppose to but….. So this time I thought I’d play cool, I was a bit embarrassed when I looked at the picture later and saw Mirusia was all smiling, good thing I had Judith keeping me company by giving that cool look, or I’d look like an idiot who's ready to kill someone for Charlie. What a fun Part II for our famous motion-less picture. Thanks Mirusia and Judith!
Mirusia had to go "put things on her face", Gary and Marthijn took turns to fill that empty chair while Kerstin came to sit down and chat with us. I saw Mr. 3-times-Anonymous Security Guard walked by and I asked Gary his name, but Gary didn't know ... well folks, I tried! There were some really loud laughs at times but I won’t tell you what we talked about.
What a Party We Had!
We would have wanted to stay longer but it’s about 45min before showtime. Kerstin led us the way back to the arena and told us where to meet after the concert.

Minutes Before Concert Started
I went to Row 7 to meet up with my parents, who had been wondering around near the Arena until the gates opened (sorry mom and dad!). On my way to the restroom, I saw Al with his program book and a nice AR mug. John and Bobbie had seats for Row 7 too. I’d been waiting for my big hugs from them but I wasn’t prepared for John lifting me up off the ground. The feet of the 40-something year old woman must have been hanging at least 12 inches above the ground. Hmmmm…was it André Rieu concert or Cirque du Soleil? Afsaneh and her daughter Marjan came from Calgary too. We’re running out of time giving out the paper flags, fortunately, people were very enthusiastic as we approached them and our 500 flags were all gone in 15 min. Mom had to save 2 for ourselves. Good! I still had 2 minutes to catch my breath.

Concert At 7:30pm
76 Trombones started. Don’t you just LOVE that drum beat? There were several empty seats at the back sections, but keep in mind it’s a Big arena and the spirit was there.
Other fans have already mentioned which pieces they played, more or less like previous years, but André was really in good shape. Mirusia sang Don’t Cry For Me Argentina with her Evita hairstyle, that cute little girl in white still couldn’t remember all her moves when Carmen sang Earth Song, Kimmy had nice shiny straight hair for Ave Maria. You know how in the first part André always asked where the audiences came from … there were 3 from Victoria in Row 1, and after intermission, they were late (and yes, they were on those big video screens), André said, "Where’s Victoria?". That was so funny and proved that he remembered things pretty well.
During encores we went to join the mosh pit and when André almost finished playing "O Canada", dad put up his little banner with a flashing heart. Not sure if André saw it, but I think some JSO members could see it pretty well. Dad was happy! The guy standing behind me was singing out loud ADIEU, a few Asian ladies standing next to him were swaying and waving the orange flags. It was a very nice atmosphere for us.

But "Everything has an end". Here comes Lullaby! I’ve said I hate Lullaby ‘cos that’s the end of the concert, but this time I wasn’t as upset as last year, since I would see them again at the after party.

The After Party
Around 10pm, I had to quickly say goodbye to Al as he had to leave the next day, and I had to rush to the back where Kerstin and the group were waiting. We went back to the catering room and there was a nice plate of sushi on the table. Kerstin poured us champagne but no one touched the nice-looking plate of food, maybe because there’s only one plate. It was a foot from me so why waste it, I had a piece of ham. And just when I had a bite of the roll, Johann came over to our table and asked us to remove our "VIP pass" as we would look nicer on the photo with André, so I swallowed the whole thing and took another sip of my champagne. I finally had my dream photo taken with Monsieur Rieu . He didn't find time to chat with us, I was a bit disappointed but that's okay as they had a long day ahead (leaving the hotel at 4:45am for Florida), besides, my parents were waiting for me outside and the parkade might close soon. As long as I have my precious photo with me, I'm good!

André Rieu Souvenirs
We got a program book, Forever Vienna CD and a nice Celebration of Music Tour 2010 umbrella. And guess what ... by the time we left the venue, it WAS raining, how perfect to be holding André in the rain!

So Long, Farewell ... The next morning the crew had a 7:30am flight to Houston. It's still raining, so guess what I took with me to work ... my new umbrella of course! ... Alice

Alice when she would work at GM Center (Rogers Arena)
Click on link to see video that Alice took at Sound Check