Come Along With Anthony ~ This is His Story

Hi everybody, you may know who I am, my name is Anthony and I’m a 26-year-old Peruvian boy. Some of you wonder why you’re now reading an article related to me, as I am just like you all, a common fan of André Rieu, but there is a little more about me I will tell you in the following lines. This is my story.

All this starts 6 years ago when I was looking for a very special version of ‘Silent Night’, as Christmas is the best time for me. Then I found a very touching one played by an unknown André Rieu at that time. That melody made me feel what I wanted, the pure love of Christmas. So I started to look for more and more Rieu songs and melodies, finding out via Youtube a wonderful and fascinating New Zealand song called ‘Pokarekare ana’ sung by Mirusia, which immediately amazed me. I wanted to download this song from the internet, but it was unavailable to Peru. So after two years of trying and trying to contact someone from that country, Kathy Prater showed up and sent me the first original CD I got, "Waltzing Matilda".

Just one week passed to have it in my hands, and listening to all the tracks I knew how beautiful was his music so I decided to download his concerts and CD’s from the internet. However, old concerts were only available on videotapes and on sale in German virtual stores like ebay, but my soul of collector told myself ‘No, Anthony, if you are going to get all the concerts, you should buy the old ones!’ So, like playing, I booked on ebay and I talked to some German sellers to know how sending from one country to another worked and it didn’t seem to be difficult. Finally I bought some videotapes and the VI Maastricht concert which was just released (plus two more dvd’s being in offer). And the long journey started; month by month I said ‘Why not buy these ones? They are not too expensive!’ And 2012 ended with many of his albums in my room.

Mum complained many times why I spent too much money and didn’t believe I was going to buy them all. That was the moment when I took a pause for awhile and wondered myself ‘Shall I continue or not?’ And looking at my collection I knew I was half way, so I said ‘you’re not playing around with it, continue or all in your life will be a joke’ (yeah, believe it! LOL). 

And many months passed through this decision, meeting thousands of people from USA, Germany, France, Holland, United Kingdom, even from Taiwan! But the best I could find in my way, my friends from the Harmony Parlor who guided and helped me with all this. There was Ineke and Ruud, or Angela and Kathy who each July of the year buys the tour program for me. And a big group of lovely friends led by Sue, Alice, Chris and many more, who welcomed me as if I was part of the family. Each one gave me their support, help and even contributions to go on.

Time flew and fantastic chances came to me, like André on at the cinema in my land, the Taipei program in my collection, the hard-to-find videotape ‘In concert’ finally found, but a question was going around my mind - ‘Why do you collect all these items without being at one of his concerts?’ And like God had listened to me, the Chilean tour was announced. ‘No time to think, just buy tickets’ was my answer, but it was quite difficult for me to do it at that moment. There two angels from Heaven came to my help, Jaya and Julianne who did everything they could to make my dream come true! And I couldn’t believe it, I was finally able to attend one of his concerts! I immediately bought my plane ticket and booked in a hotel. Then two weeks later I discovered that André Rieu was coming to Lima! I said ‘Ok, if he is going to come to Lima, your land, you should be there too!’ And I bought my ticket for the Peruvian concert. I never imagined there would be three chances to see André, two in Chile and one in my land.

So, since May I was trying to get ready but I was alone, as none of my friends liked Andre’s music, therefore I started to look for some more friends who shared the same feeling, but I never imagined I could find a huge group of fans and thousands of people who admire André, as the concert tickets were sold out in a couple of weeks!. But it was getting better and better; at the beginning when the fan club was organized, we were like 5 or 7, but this small group had many ideas for Andre’s coming. And with the help of each one and also the other 100 fans who came to us with the passing of the weeks, we managed to have our own scarves and also to buy a traditional musical instrument for Andre as a way to welcome him. But time was getting closer and closer to the concert date and some beautiful ladies - Laura Engel, Mirusia Louwerse, Agnes Fizzano and Donij Van Doorn knew about us, so we also included some presents for them.

But it was after the concerts in Maastricht when everything changed. Ineke and Ruud contacted me about Michael Wiseman, a producer who was interested in old tour programs. So I emailed him and after some messages I received the best news of my whole life! He offered me to come to my house with his camera team so I could show them all my memorabilia. I immediately said ‘yes’ without doubt. And finally the time arrived - Michael sent me some more messages about the meeting and I didn’t believe what I was about to happen until one hour before leaving Lima I received a message with the exact time he was going to come to my house, so I went to the airport with all my nervousness in me.

The 21st of August at 5am I landed in Santiago de Chile, to experience one of the highest moments of my life. That day was quite confusing as I got lost at the beginning, but I could find the place I was going to stay. I couldn’t sleep because a friend of mine took me to see places around the city. But in a blink of an eye the evening was coming and I had to be ready for the concert. A charged camera, scarves and a lot of nervousness were going with me. I arrived at the Movistar Arena one hour before concert time. I didn’t know anybody, but it didn't matter. The hour just flew so quickly - the lights turned out and the countdown was on the big screens, while 76 Trombones was played and there they were! André Rieu and the orchestra walking and then playing those big instruments, each one in their seat. So quickly André said ‘Buenas noches’ (good evening) and presented a famous Chilean girl who translated all that André said in English.

Waltzes were played like the famous Second waltz and the Platin Tenors were introduced one by one after singing ‘Volare’. They ended their performance with such a beautiful and touching ‘Amor, vida de mi vida’ and the world famous ‘Nessun Dorma’. Then, cameras focused on the all-red-clothed woman who tried to escape from the bull while the orchestra played Espana Cani. I liked all that was presented, but my eyes were totally opened when André started to describe that famous Mexican song, which meant Laura Engel was coming to the stage. And then there was a wonderful and fantastic voice with such a powerful performance singing ‘Besame Mucho’, applauded by everybody, but by only me standing up like at the concerts I have seen. At that moment, I didn’t understand why Chilean people hadn’t stood up if a Chilean girl was singing for her country. But I didn’t care; I was convinced to do the same with the other soloists. Then came the famous ‘SportPalast waltz’ and the ‘White Horse Inn’ with a funny end as everyone laughed when we saw André trying to kiss Tanja. But it got better when I could hear how in one whole rhythm the whole audience started clapping while Mirusia and the soloists were doing the same.

It was time for the intermission and I didn’t have time to move as time had flown and André again was announcing an aria from the Merry Widow, which caught all my attention. Donij Van Doorn came to the stage and sang with her incredible voice the powerful Vilja lied (sung previously by Carmen Monarcha and Kimmy Skota, but not in a stronger way as Donij did). When I heard the loud voice of Donij at the end of the song I couldn’t resist standing up again and clapping with all my enthusiasm. I was so happy to see two of my favorite soloists. I also enjoyed the Berlin Comedian Harmonists performance. To be honest, I didn’t understand what they sang, but I tried to follow them with the song ‘Veronika’ (the only word I could repeat) and also clapping when they sang ‘Das ist die Liebe der Matrosen’ while André was jumping in circles. Then, like you were hearing the highest moment was coming - An Angel from Australia was being announced and I was so nervous to hear how Mirusia Louwerse would sing ‘Wishing you were somehow here again’, but it was more than I expected. She practically sang it with her heart, holding a high voice during the end, which was one more time, clapped by me and standing up.

The end of the program was coming with the Blue danube, All men shall be brothers and a ‘bye bye’. Radetzky March was being played and the Balloons were coming down from above. I knew it was the time to run and stay in front of the stage as everybody did. I preferred to stay in the left part as I wanted to see the sopranos while Libiamo was played and I could get a ‘cheers’ from Laura. The end was coming and after playing ‘El condor pasa’, André played ‘Adieu, mein kleiner Gardeoffizier’ which was the song I think I enjoyed the most as Laura said many times good bye to me. Then, the Orfeon of Carabineros came to the stage to play Cielito lindo which was sung along with the audience, and the last piece ‘Alter Kameraden’ came while André was saying good bye to everybody. No Marina and no Amazing Grace made me feel it was a concert for too formal people, as they never gave a standing ovation. ‘It doesn’t matter, I will do the same tomorrow’ was what I said!

And the second concert came but for me it was like the first time, full of energy, the same feeling of happiness and enthusiasm and full of recordings with my camera were included too. Also, I could meet my Chilean friend Omar Pinto who is the Chilean fans club president. He took me at the end of the concert to the venue the Orchestra members walked to leave the Movistar Arena. There I could get a high-5 from Donij, a warm ‘hello’ from Laura, a funny way to come up from Agnes recording with her mobile phone all our greetings and finally André running and saying hello to everybody, I was so close to him that I could touch his finger! (JesusChrist! I couldn’t ask for more!). But before leaving, we noticed the concerts were being recorded, so Omar and I asked about it to the cameraman and he told us it was going to be a five-week recording, going with André to five different places.

Omar and I got confused with this info, but time was flying and I had to leave Chile and come back my land to meet again my AR friends and let them know all the happiness I got from the two fantastic concerts in Chile. But there was no time to say anything, we just had enough time to get everything ready. We had a last meeting before the concert on Sunday to bring the musical instrument and the presents to my house. Monday, a long day of work just gave me the chance to print the photos and write the letter I was going to give André. Finally the big day of my life arrived, 25th of August in which not only I was going to enjoy the concert in Lima, but also to receive Michael Wiseman and his team in my house!

All that day Mom helped me to have the house ready. Some of my close A.R. friends were there too! The time was getting closer and closer. I started to practice my replies with Edith when I received a message saying ‘Anthony, we are nearly at your place, do you want to come downstairs to meet us?’ No time to do anything else, I just ran and opened the door - they were in front of my house. I just said hello to everybody when Michael said ‘hey, I’m Michael’.  Nervousness started to run over all my body and I just said ‘Ok, I’m so nervous’. So they just laughed and said, ‘no worries, everything will be OK’. We all entered my house and I showed them my collection, while Mum and my friend Samantha were impressed by the beauty of the security man (too funny!). As we had to do the interview as soon as we could, they found the perfect way to record me talking about my journey with André.

The best and also the rarest I had to show the camera were my tour programs. So we put all them on the table and the interview started. Nervousness was so high, but confidence was at the same time in my mind that I even made some mistakes talking in English. I easily replied to each question Michael asked me. During the breaks Sebastian, the sound engineer, found the ‘On my way to New York’ DVD in which he worked ‘this is the best one’ he said and we knew why. He also asked about the book released in 2011 ‘De mens achter het fenomeen’ (only in Dutch, no English) and Michael asked him, ‘why do you ask that? You see he has everything, just look and find it’ and again there were lots of laughs. During the interview I could talk about how much I like Suzan Erens, and how André touched my heart with the song ‘Once upon a time in the west’ sung by Carla Maffioletti. I could tell everybody one of my deepest secrets about Andre’s music and me "Each time I listen to this song, I can draw in my mind the moment when I meet my grandmother again in Heaven". I also could show to the camera part of my dvd’s, calendars and the old LP’s when André was in the Maastricht Salon Orchestra. But time flew and we just had time to say ‘see you later’
Time was running out and my friends Liz and Malu were ready in my house holding the bouquets for the sopranos and Agnes. I just printed the letter so there was no time for more. Mum wished me the best and I left home with her great blessing, hoping everything goes OK. Victor, our AR fan friend was waiting for us in the stadium but something wrong happened. The presents were too heavy and three of my friends only had access to the Grandstand area, so they couldn’t go with me to give them to Michael. Fortunately, the other fan friends helped us to carry them, but it was quite late. We were so close to the concert beginning that nobody could help us, but I saw in the public that famous girl who runs each time she sees the bull, I asked her if she could help me to give the presents to  and she kindly contacted me with someone from Andre’s staff, I finally could breathe, all the presents were on their way, and she told me ‘hey, no worries, you’re Anthony right? We all know who you are’, Those were the perfect words to forget about that terrible concern and enjoy the concert.

Then I could realize how the stage was! It looked like Maastricht! An open air concert which meant no Balloons, but would include fireworks. And the time came. 9pm, but nothing happened. We listened to many claps but André didn’t walk through the way to the stage, he was trying to fix some problems with the lights. Even the man in charge of the production who brought André to Peru had to talk about the delay, but we didn’t care about it, we were just waiting for André. And after 20 minutes everything started. 20 000 souls were singing and clapping with him. The same songs were following the program but something wrong happened when André mentioned ‘Chile’ ... many people started to jeer just because of the rivalry my country and Chile have.

Many of us wondered why they did that silly thing, ‘Laura is not guilty of this problem’ I said, and that was what she proved. When she ended with her rendition of ‘Besame mucho’, the audience gave her a standing ovation. I was feeling I was not alone, not in a foreign land, I was at home and I knew we were going to do the same with the other soloists and that was what happened to Donij, Mirusia, all the guests and when André presented the Johann Strauss Orchestra. Everything was going perfect when the streamers flew through the air after playing Radetzky March, as thousands of people were walking right to Andre, I had to run to the front again at the left part but this time I perfectly knew it would be different. Mirusia already knew about me, so she would send me many ‘hello’s’ but it was more than perfect, when they sang Adieu, the three girls said good bye to me. I was going to die at that moment but then I heard the fireworks while André was playing some Peruvian songs, Amazing grace and the end was announced, I said ‘Ok, that’s all’ but I heard Manoe playing the whistle, ‘Jesus Christ', it was Marina’! I immediately started to jump as it was the best end of any André concert, thousands of fireworks and colorful lights made the perfect atmosphere to say good bye to Andre. 20 000 souls were shouting ‘André, André, André’, but he had to leave the stage.

For many of the fans and friends it was over, but for me it was just the first part - the security man gave me some instructions to follow Michael. I took Samantha and Victor with me and he guided us to the backstage where 4 people were waiting for us. I just remembered opening the curtain when I saw a smiling Mirusia who was waiting for me with open arms to hug me. I couldn’t walk; I just was impressed that she came to me, ‘Anthony! It’s you! Then I started shouting with happiness, ‘yes, you’re Mirusia!!!’, and then, Laura hugged me too! Lots of laughs were around us and I couldn’t believe that moment. Laura told me she was working on her own album, Donij was so happy to know I have known about her since 2008, Agnes was still with her beautiful dress and Mirusia promised me to let me know if she will record a new cd for this year. Some minutes talking while everything was being recorded by the camera, and of course, many photos with them, until the end had to come ... we said good bye with a warm hug, promising to see each other again in the near future.

I thanked Michael for this great opportunity, and I met my close friends at the end of that amazing night. Some of them told me that it would have been better if we had had a picture with André, but I know now it was just perfect. I couldn’t see André and I couldn’t get a picture with him like other Peruvians who were waiting for him at the hotel where he stayed, but I got the perfect gift I could receive until now, a warm hug from Mirusia, Laura, Donij and Agnes and a wonderful interview that will be shown in an upcoming DVD and will be remembered for my whole life. There is no joy getting everything in one day. I have done my first three steps, having completed my collection, meeting the sopranos and Agnes and having the chance to be on a DVD. Now, I’m waiting for my next step, maybe going to Maastricht? Maybe meeting André Rieu? Maybe meeting the other sopranos or the whole orchestra? I don’t know, but what I do know is that whatever is coming, I will surely enjoy as I really loved what I have lived until today. I just have to say THANKS to you all, because this story is written by me, but only with the help and contribution of all of you. Thanks, thanks, thanks!

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