A few days ago, I attended a concert in the large city near where I live. It was held in the large venue where you will find major league sports and rock concerts. But this particular event was neither. It was a concert by Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra.
The tickets were acquired by making a donation to our local PBS station while they were airing an Andre Rieu concert. The music was enjoyable, but truthfully, I wasn’t overly excited about attending the concert in person. I was expecting it to be rather dull and hokey.
Our seats were on the floor level, I guess about mid-way back and off to the right side. I was comfortable on the padded seats until an extremely large husband and wife took the seats next to me. He was so large that he was partially on her seat and she was so large that she was partially on mine. Our hips and thighs touched during the whole concert. Makes me shiver to recall that part.
Once the concert began, it took me a couple of minutes to acclimate and just relax into it. But once I did, I found the whole concert to be exhilarating and lots of fun. Andre Rieu is a showman. He is an expert at engaging the audience and making the time you are there one of complete enjoyment and happiness. In fact, he calls his music ‘happy music’. Besides the wonderful music being played, my eyes were taking in the beautiful setting and the vibrant colors of the ballgowns worn by the orchestra. There was fun interplay between the orchestra members and everyone in the venue was having a good time.
I have always been partial to Johann Strauss waltzes. As a child, I remember playing them on our old record player over and over again. I would dance and twirl and pretend I was a princess dancing to the beautiful music. Several of those same waltzes were played at this concert and as I closed my eyes and listened, I thought back to my childhood happiness at this same music. I hated for the evening to end and apparently so did everyone else.
Afterwards, I was reflecting on the evening and thinking about classical music as a whole. I am not one who typically attends classical concert events. I am mostly uneducated about this genre of music and find some of it to be complicated to listen to, unless there is a rondo refrain that returns the music to a theme and helps make it more cohesive to my untrained ear.
I have a suspicion that classical music critics do not like Andre Rieu. The fact that he makes this music enjoyable and fun and employs a few silly antics to engage the audience is not what one typically expects to experience at a classical music concert. This was no dour concert where you must sit quietly and listen and then applaud politely at the end. This was bold and boisterous and exuberant. Andre Rieu is making classical music accessible and enjoyable to people like me, who enjoy good music but who might otherwise feel out-of-place and intimidated.
Bottom line? If you have an opportunity to attend an Andre Rieu concert….GO!!!