Popped along to my local cinema today to see Andre Rieu’s concert from Sydney. I’ve seen his Maastricht concerts advertised before, and they looked a tad cheesy, but fancying some Sydney nostalgia, I bought my ticket some weeks ago and attended a packed Rebel Cinema in Bude for the event.
I never mind admitting if I’m wrong. So, in the pre-concert interview, Andre Rieu came across as a nice guy, a very, very rich nice guy who lives in a castle. His orchestral tours apparently draw more than 600,000 people a year. In Sydney’s Town Hall, a beautiful venue, his audience was limited to 1000, but boy, what a happy time was had by all. I didn’t realise the saleability of this man. Over 3.1 million followers on Facebook, billions on YouTube and regular appearances in the charts for CDS/DVDs.
Andre and his 60 piece orchestra, all dressed in jolly gear (well, the women anyway, wearing colourful frocks) were joined by sopranos and tenors for a feast of festive and joyous music. I loved hearing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah because I love the music but also because it always reminds me of my visit to the Sydney Opera House where I saw it performed. Waltz music was accompanied by dancers on the floor or the hall, including later, the audience, and the bagpipes were, for once, a fabulous addition.
He’s a musical maestro, very popular yet slated because of that popularity. People love him and cry with joy at his concerts.
Far better to be unpopular rather than mass media as that makes you musically acceptable. Rieu’s been accused of schmaltz, kitsch, Liberace tendencies, and a saccharine approach, playing popular ‘dumbed down’ classical music to the unsophisticated masses. Shocking stuff, allowing ordinary people to access potential high culture.
Yes, reader, I knew it all – and so would you, for her focuses on a programme of music people will know and enjoy. He is a non-stop tourer, providing spectacle, so attracting great criticism from serious music followers.
Well, you know what? I enjoyed it when I expected not to. My inner snob nearly didn’t book that ticket, but I enjoyed hearing music I know, I enjoyed the Sydney scenery, I enjoyed the spectacle (even the frocks) but most of all I enjoyed seeing people of all ages, and cultural backgrounds just having a totally lovely time, enjoying themselves, feeling friendly and happy.
It’s feelgood stuff, so given a choice between a popular rendition of O Fortuna (Carmina Burana) or Brexit (though there was an interesting programme about it with Adrian Chiles on Radio 4 on my way home) the music wins every time (and I studied politics). Some of it goes on a bit and the showmanship can be a little tedious (like Elton John) but I really enjoyed the positivity.