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André Rieu a musical phenomenon

By Florence Gordon

Published 12:43 PST, Fri November 10, 2023

Five years ago, I was invited to join a group of friends for dinner and a concert. When the date arrived, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I couldn’t imagine sitting in a movie theatre for three hours watching an orchestra. Well, was I in for a surprise. When we left the theatre, my friends (big fans of André Rieu) asked me if I enjoyed the concert. My reaction was ”can we go back and watch it again!”.

I had never experienced a performer that captivates an audience the way he did—it was magical, and it was as if we had front row seats at a live concert. I forgot I was sitting in a theatre and through the lens of a camera, I was transported into this magical world of entertainment.  

André Rieu and his production company takes everyone to amazing destinations around the world and incorporates local talent into their performance. From the time he and his members walk down the aisle with his son at his side, the joy begins and does not stop. With live interviews added to his story telling, to the many guest performers, you’re entertained non-stop and three hours feels like one. Even the live audience pleads with André for one more song as he tries to leave the stage.

When you think of a Johann Strauss orchestra you would never expect an orchestra to have the ability to perform classical music one minute and then pour their heart into an all-time favourite Elvis Presley song or Latin America music encouraging the audience to jump up out of their seat to join a conga line down the aisle. One minute you’re swaying to romantic music, the next minute you’re caught up in the sheer happiness from his wonderfully warm sense of humour.

Enamored by this talented performer I wanted to learn more—who is André Rieu? Simply put, he’s a musical phenomenon like no other, a true King of Romance, having sold a massive 40 million CDs and DVDs and notched 30 near one-chart positions worldwide. Along with his 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra (the largest private orchestra in the world), André has created a global revival in waltz music, staging spectacular extravaganzas which are second to none. Having received over 480 Platinum Awards, three Classical Brit Awards for “Album of the Year” and billions of Youtube views, André is one of the biggest solo male touring artists in the world. Each year his passionate live shows attract more than 600,000 fans.

His father was an orchestra conductor, and as a child he recalls the huge orchestra and the wonderful sound it made. He also remembered being surprised at the sombre audience during the concerts. “Everybody looked so serious, even though the music seemed to me to radiate so much joy!” When André was studying the violin at the music academy, he was asked to play in a salon orchestra. “What a revelation it was! I was immediately spellbound by that beat which, years later became the rhythm of my life”.

André Rieu founded the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987. Following six months of rehearsals, he performed his first concert on Jan. 1, 1988. The orchestra began with only twelve members, which grew to 50, sometimes even 60 on very large stages. The fact that the members of his orchestra have stayed with him from the very beginning demonstrates the dedication and love they have for André. 

Built into the concert, André introduces a percussionist who has been part of his orchestra since 1987, at the same time he also showed a video of three little boys who performed with his orchestra. Today all three boys are grown men playing percussion instruments with their dad in André’s orchestra, which clearly supports the family relationship. There are so many stories like this throughout the three-hour performance. 

“My orchestra consists of young, enthusiastic musicians, who put their heart and soul into the music in every concert. You'll see me and the orchestra, and the audience too, all having a lot of fun together. Swaying with the music, humming along, clapping, jumping up and down—it all happens, and every evening is a wonderful experience, and in my view, there couldn't be a greater pleasure for a musician.” 

His audience appeals to both young and the young at heart. People travel from all over the world to wherever André Rieu is performing. There are no words to explain to those who have never taken in an André Rieu concert, the wonderful joy you’ll feel when you leave the theatre and the world needs that right now.  

This year, Christmas will come early with André Rieu’s cinema special White Christmas a celebration you will never forget. From the first jingled bell, you will be immersed in the incomparable Christmas atmosphere of André’s winter wonderland. Marvel at the magnificently decorated Christmas palace in his hometown, complete with snow, two ice rinks, gorgeous winter scenes, romantic lighting, red carpet, countless lights, 150 beautiful chandeliers and over 50 Venetian candelabras. Savour the spirit of the season while singing and dancing in the aisles to timeless Christmas carols, romantic waltzes and beautiful songs from all over the world. Cinema audiences will also enjoy exclusive backstage access, as host Charlotte Hawkins speaks with André about creating his musical winter wonderland.  

For our readers who have never seen André Rieu and his orchestra I hope I’ll see you on Dec. 2 for his White Christmas performance at the Richmond Cineplex Theatre (tickets and reserved seats can be booked online or at the theatre. For a sneak preview of what to expect go to

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