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An interview with Andre Rieu, King of the Waltz, for his show Together Again at cinemas across Kent this bank holiday weekend

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World famous violinist and 'King of the Waltz' André Rieu has missed playing live - but he's back, doing just that, with his orchestra, for cinemagoers across the globe - including Kent - this bank holiday weekend.

Presented from his hometown of Maastricht, as he is reunited with his beloved Johann Strauss Orchestra for the first time since the start of the pandemic, we spoke to him about the celebration, how he got through without performing live, and waltzing, or not...

Andre Rieu: Together Again will see him reunited with his orchestra Picture: Gregor Ramaekers
Andre Rieu: Together Again will see him reunited with his orchestra Picture: Gregor Ramaekers

How much have you missed playing live? And how have you filled that gap while you were unable to?

Music is my life, it's some kind of oxygen; I can't live without it. I really missed playing for all my fans, 18 months is a long time! Last month, my orchestra members and I were allowed to come together again in the studio in order to record two new albums. It was so great to see eachother and there was a lot to talk about. Luckily, I've filled the gap with making pies and cakes for my whole family.

After a concert, I normally watch baking tutorials on You Tube. Now, I made these things for my wife, our sons and the grand children. They loved it! I also got a masterclass from a famous Dutch baker on my birthday, that was really lovely. And I've been working on this cinema special "Together Again" with lots of highlights. It contains beautiful recordings from all over the world: Carmen Monarcha sings an aria from Carmen in front of her own audience in Sao Paolo and the audience cheers during her encore Manha de Carnaval which she sings together with the soprano Carla Maffioletti, also from São Paolo, and the African Kimmy Skota.

Andre has been dubbed the King of the Waltz Picture: Marcel van Hoorn/Andre Rieu Productions
Andre has been dubbed the King of the Waltz Picture: Marcel van Hoorn/Andre Rieu Productions

What are you looking forward to most about performing live with your orchestra again?

Being together with both my orchestra and all my fans; I missed both so much. During the last month, we've been already in the recording studio in order to make tow new albums but nothing beats the live concerts and it will be so wonderful to come back to the UK in April next year; when I see all these happy faces in front of me, I know that I've chosen the right job for me. It's so satisfying to make people happy with the music you choose with your heart. It's the epicentre of your feelings and the audience sees your emotions.

I can't wait to perform live again! Also the dancing when we play our beloved waltzes is something I really missed a lot. Since it will still take a while, I hope people will enjoy the cinema show in August and warm up!

What was it like to look back over your career for this film?

It was very moving. Especially Mirusia Louwerse with Somewhere over the Rainbow or George Zamfir in front of his own audience in Bucharest with The Lonely Shepherd. And also a lot of fun! For example to see Lou Bega with Mambo Nr.5 and Los Del Rio with Macarena. I want to show my audience how it was before the pandemic and how it will soon be again.

How does it feel now to look back and realise how popular you have become? Has it been a lot of hard work, as well as enjoyable?

I do not work, I have fun; every day I'm making music, I'm enjoying my life to the max. It's incredible to be called 'Maestro of the masses', only by playing classical music. However, there is one thing different when my orchestra plays classical music or another one does, I think. My concerts are meant for everybody: young and old, men, women, children, everyone's welcome. Some people tend to think that classical music is for the elite only, but they are wrong. Classical composers were the pop stars in their time: when Mozart and Strauss would have lived in the 21st century, they would have thousands of followers on the social media, really! I hope to do this for many years to come...

Andre Rieu in Sydney Picture: Marcel van Hoorn/Andre Rieu Productions
Andre Rieu in Sydney Picture: Marcel van Hoorn/Andre Rieu Productions

And does it seem strange that people will have as much interest in Kent in England as they would in any the country around the world?

No, because music is a universal language. We all share the same feelings: joy, passion, sadness and we all have dreams. In my concerts around the world every time the people start to get up and dance. I was told even in the cinemas, which is wonderful.

What is it like living in Maastricht?

Maastricht is the oldest city in the Netherlands; I've lived here my whole life. My mother was nine months pregnant when she and my father moved to Maastricht, because my father got a job here as a symphony orchestra conductor. Just a few weeks after his instalment, I was born as a Maastricht citizen. I'm proud of that. Its location in Europe is quite central: within one hour, you'll be able to travel to London, Paris, Brussels. The German border is quite close, too. There are a lot of restaurants, the surroundings are great to have a long walk, or you stroll alongside the Maas river.

People get up to dance in your concerts - do you ever want to dance too?

Well, to be quite honest... I can't dance! Better leave that to my wife Marjorie who is a passionate dancer: she's been a folkloristic dancer for more than 30 years now, as a young girl she used to do ballet. Dancing together is not a good plan, I can assure you that. I love playing waltzes and see how other people are 'hit' by its magical 3/4 rhythm.

Andre Picture: Manuela Scarpa/Photo Rio News
Andre Picture: Manuela Scarpa/Photo Rio News

As a lover of Johann Strauss, what do you think of the Tom and Jerry episode Johann Mouse where Tom plays the waltz and Jerry the mouse dances?

Yes, I do know that episode. I'm a huge fan of Walt Disney anyway, especially his quote "If you can dream it you can do it!" is so powerful. He used a lot of classical music in his movies, and when not, the film composers made their compositions sound like magnificent classical pieces. Take Hans Zimmers score for The Lion King; don't you agree with me that we almost hear Bach? I've recorded several Disney songs on my albums, as a tribute to this wonderful man Disney. My sons used to watch Tom and Jerry when they were young, and now and then, Marjorie and I watched with them.

The show, which sees André reflect on the last year, his memories of performing around the world, and on looking forward to bringing new concerts to his fans globally, is on at cinemas across the county on Saturday, August 28 and Sunday, August 29.

Book your tickets to watch the show at andreincinemas.com

For more Music news across Kent click here.

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