The festive season is upon us and as we look forward to the New Year, music fans across the country will be treated to André Rieu’s first ever New Year’s Concert.
Recorded in Sydney exclusively for cinema audiences, the performance is to be shown on the big screen on Saturday and Sunday, January 5 and 6, 2019.
Recorded at Sydney’s Town Hall in Australia earlier this month, the iconic violinist will present a brand-new concert to hundreds of thousands of fans in cinemas – the perfect way to chime in the New Year.
We caught up with André to chat about playing in Sydney, the show and what the future holds.
You’ve chosen Sydney as the location for your first New Year’s concert – what drew you to this location?
We were looking to record a very special festive concert that would be new and a bit different from the Christmas specials I have recorded during the last years. We have just been touring Australia so I thought, why not do Christmas on the beach?! Sydney is one of the nicest cities I know and the audience and atmosphere are great. Also it had the perfect hall to record it.
The concert was filmed in this historic Sydney Town Hall – what was it like to perform at this beautiful venue?
I love performing in historic venues; this Sydney Town Hall is one of the most outstanding historic venues I have ever been in my life. I think that my music fits perfectly in a venue just like this, and it is a wonderful location to start the new year.
During the concert we had a bit of a drama as our cameras broke down and we had to do the entrance and almost the complete first half again. They audience was fantastic and they loved the excitement, thankfully! A true “backstage” experience for them!
Your cinema shows usually take place in Maastricht. How does performing in Australia differ?
Maastricht is my home town and the concerts we have there in July are the end of every touring year. Throughout the whole year, we give concerts in a lot of countries, and in Maastricht (on the beautiful Vrijthof Square), all these nationalities come together.
We see a lot of Australians there, and it is so nice to come Down Under to taste the local atmosphere there. People in Australia are so friendly and warm, I can’t wait to come back again!
Are there any Australian musicians who have particularly influenced you over the years?
It is already a couple of years ago; back in 2011, we toured in Australia together with the folkloristic group The Seekers. Can you imagine that they have started in 1963 and that they still perform? I have some nice memories of these concerts, and I think we are friends for life!
This concert comes just after the Christmas period, will audiences be able to expect some festive pieces?
Of course, audiences can expect a new programme; we will perform wonderful waltzes, magnificent melodies from musicals and movies, well known arias from operas and operettas and so much more. All this will be performed by the Johann Strauss Orchestra and Choir, my lovely sopranos and, last but not least, the outstanding Platin Tenors! And we will have some lovely dancers!
New Year can often be seen as a time for making changes, have you got any resolutions this year?
My one and only New Years’s resolution is NOT to make any resolutions!
I wish that I will be able to entertain a worldwide audience for many years to come. I’m so lucky to have a personal coach who looks very well after me: together, we do exercises three or even four times a week, I eat good and nutricious food, leave the alcohol and take enough (power) naps!
Why is New Year so special to you and your family?
For many years we have now been ending the year on tour in the UK and starting another tour in January in Germany.
I have two families. My big family is my orchestra, we tour a lot, but we also share a lot (laughter, sorrows, both happy and sad moments).
My small family is my wife, my children and my grandchildren, at the end of December, I’m together with them to begin the new year with.
Once the new year has begun, we are all ready to start once again and to entertain people worldwide with our music.
What are the most important traditions in the Rieu household over the New Year period?
There is a short sketch on the German television, called ‘Dinner For One’. It’s a sketch for two persons, and my sons used to imitate this on New Year’s Day for my wife and me. Now that the boys have grown up, I’m curious whether their children will do thi, too!
We drink a nice glass, give each other a big hug and wish each other nothing but the best for the new year to come.
What is Christmas and New Year like in the Netherlands – are there any local traditions that you’d like to share with us?
Like other countries, we have the fireworks around twelve o’ clock. There is one sort of dish that the Dutch eat when the new year has started. It is called ‘oliebollen’ (literally oil balls) – you can see the best recipes on the internet, but don’t eat too much of them as they are quite fat! Unlike other countries, gifts for the children are not given at Christmas Eve, but during Sinterklaas (which is on December 5).
Although this is your very first New Year’s concert in cinemas, you’ve been performing with your Johann Strauss Orchestra for over 30 years and regularly perform around Christmas time – do you have a favourite festive memory from over the years?
One of the most beautiful memories I have, is the Christmas special I made a few years ago. It is called Home For Christmas, and it has been recorded in and around my house. We decorated everything in a festive style.
For another Christmas special, I was looking for a catchy opening tune.
I couldn’t think of any suitable track, but then my son Marc came up with a very nice idea.
He suggested the opening music of the movie ‘Ben-Hur’ (one of my own favourite movies by the way); the music accompanies the birth of Jesus Christ, and it was the perfect piece to open our special!
What lies ahead in 2019 for Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra?
We will start 2019 with two New Year’s concerts in Amsterdam and Antwerp, a new tradition that has been started a few years ago. After that, we will have concerts in Germany, eastern Europe and, of course, our summer concerts in Maastricht on the Vrijthof Square. Next year, I’ll turn 70 and I’m convinced, that I reach the age of 120! So be prepared for another year filled with delicious music and wonderful concerts!
Catch Andre Rieu’s 2019 New Year concert from Sydney at Cineworld, Silverburn Shopping Centre on Saturday, January 5, at 7pm, and Sunday, January 6, at 3pm. For tickets, visit www.andreincinemas.com.