I remember the moment with startling clarity. We were on an ill-advised New Year trip to Bruges, where the temperature was hovering somewhere around -50 degrees. We’d been out for dinner and had scurried back to our hotel to warm up before heading out for the big open-air concert at midnight. There we were, huddled under the blankets in our icy room, when a blast of warmth radiated from the TV in the form of a colourful costume-clad orchestra led by a twinkling, crinkly-haired conductor/violinist. Numerous shots of the audience showed them dancing in the aisles, waving flags and gleefully clapping along to an all-killer-no-filler repertoire of popular classics.
He performs sell-out tours all over the world, but his most famous concerts are the ones he gives in his hometown of Maastricht every year. For several evenings in the summer, the city’s medieval square – Vrijthof – is transformed into an open-air arena, where Rieu and his orchestra perform a three-hour spectacular in front of thousands of adoring fans, accompanied by light shows, fireworks and plenty of audience interaction.
This annual concert series sells out months if not years in advance, and tickets go for eye-watering prices. But, thanks to satellite streaming, you can experience the spectacle for yourself for a fraction of the cost and without venturing further than your nearest Vue. The concert is being broadcast via satellite to Vue venues across the country on Saturday 23 July at 7pm and Sunday 24 July at 3pm – and, as expected, tickets are going fast!
Say what you like about André Rieu but I defy even the most cynical or classical-averse among you not to be carried away with the sheer joy of the event. You may even find yourself dancing in the aisles.