Arts

André Rieu shares his birthday celebrations on the big screen

Maestro André Rieu is marking his 70th birthday by conducting what's been called his ultimate concert, which will be shown in selected cinemas in Northern Ireland in the New Year, prior to his in-person trip here in April. Jenny Lee finds out more

Dutch violinist André Rieu embarks on a musical journey around the world in his latest cinematic release. Picture by Marcel van Hoorn

KNOWN for his energetic live performances, Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu is one of the world's leading pop classical artists. His Johann Strauss Orchestra, with up to 60 musicians, began in 1987, and for over three decades their shows have gained him hundreds of thousands of fans from all over the world.

In recent years Rieu has shared these live occasions with cinema audiences all over the world. Marking the start of the year and his milestone birthday, his latest exclusive cinema event, André Rieu: 70 Years Young, will feature the maestro performing his most notable pieces from stunning locations around the world.

As part of the celebration, together with presenter Charlotte Hawkins, he will look back over his life, passions and music, while taking his cinema audience on a virtual tour of his castle in Maastricht.

What makes your event cinema screenings so special that they continuously break records worldwide?

The cinema specials are a wonderful opportunity for people who are not able to join us live to experience the concert. I try to create a joyful atmosphere. The people are invited to show all varieties of emotions at my concerts and the same goes for the cinema screenings. I hear my audience is laughing, crying, even dancing in the aisles in between the chairs of a cinema. Isn’t that great?

It has become a tradition to show my Vrijthof Open Airs in the Cinema during the summer, but we are now also putting on a festive cinema broadcast around Christmas or the New Year because the number of participating cinemas is increasing every year. Every detail you see is real, nothing is fake – that probably is the vital factor for the worldwide success of the cinematic concerts.

You have dedicated your entire life to classical music and you leave audiences visibly moved time and time again. Can you tell us what it is that continues to drive and inspire you in this your 70th year?

I reached the age of 70 on October 1, but I don’t feel like that; it’s not a real job I have, more like a hobby because it gives me such a good feeling, day after day. The reaction of my audience is something that keeps my engine running; all these happy smiles in front of me, whether in Ireland or Australia, Denmark or Colombia. In every city men and women seem to have a wonderful evening – and when they have a good feeling, I have it too. It is really gratifying when I realise, that I’m able to make people happy with my music.

You could live anywhere in the world so tell us what makes Maastricht so special to you?

It is the town where I was born 70 years ago; it is the oldest city in The Netherlands, its location is quite central… and the European Union has its cradle in Maastricht too. It has a lot to offer for its inhabitants but also for tourists: nice shops, beautiful surroundings, good restaurants, cultural places for a visit (limestone caves, churches, museums, too much to mention). And most of all the atmosphere is very warm, because of the friendly people.

You have a very loyal Irish following – can you recall a special moment in Ireland?

One of the memories I cherish the rest of my life is performing with John Sheahan, violinist of The Dubliners; he is very kind, friendly and a fantastic musician. The Irish audience is my favourite because they are so musical, which you can see and hear inside the concert hall, and in the all-day street life, with musicians and dancers everywhere. The Irish seem to breathe music and have such a great sense of humour. Dublin is one of the few cities on my European tour where I perform two concerts every year and I cannot wait to be back in Belfast and Dublin in April.

:What can we expect from our 70th Birthday celebration in cinemas?

Director Mike Wiseman (who is responsible for the series on Sky Arts) made an outstanding compilation of the concerts we had throughout the past decades, in combination with countless backstage moments, interviews and other beautiful things. I really hope that a lot of people come to celebrate my birthday party in the cinema. It was filmed at my castle in Maastricht, so it is lovely to show people my home and invite them to share the highlights of my career once again with me.

Anything special you would like for Christmas?

I hope that my health stays with me for many years to come and that it enables me to perform for the same period. But also a happy family – both the big one (my orchestra), and the small one (my wife, sons and grandchildren). And I hope we will finally reach peace in the world. Maybe music can help a little to do so, because music brings people together.

:: André Rieu: 70 Years Young will be screened in cinemas on January 4 and 5. To find your local screening and book tickets, visit Andrerieu70yearsyoung.com. André Rieu will bring his world tour to Belfast's SSE Arena on April 16 and Dublin's 3Arena on April 17 and 18.

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