Monday, September 26, 2011


Attended concert of the Johann Strauss Orchestra conducted by Andre Rieu on Friday, September 16th in St. Paul, MN. Procured tickets which were donated to a nonprofit where I volunteer and took my dear friend, Allie. Our seats were in a good location but the seats themselves were not comfortable. Allie banged her leg on the beverage holder, which is black and not obvious in the darkened Xcel Energy Center.

Performance began with the musicians marching in carrying their bows. Clever method to perk up the audience on a windy and chilly day. Talented professional musicians and singers. Very solid presentation of romantic classical and rousing traditional tunes, not one wrong note. Cameras showed the members of the orchestra as well as Mr. Rieu up close. Impressive that he used body language to conduct while playing. It would have been cool to hear him solo on the Stradivarius and show off his multilingual skills.

Nice to include some comedy, the Blacksmith skit was very cute. The snowstorm was funny since it doused people with a couple inches of fake flakes. The kids loved to throw the fluff around. Balloons were popular though people popping them were rather distracting. Musicians sat on chairs with no cushion, which could not have been appealing for two hours. Female musician and vocalist gowns were beautiful but beading and lace would have been uncomfortable. It would be amenable if the men could wear colorful vests. Orchestra lacked diversity except for one musician and one profoundly skilled singer.

Maestro Rieu had to coax the audience to dance but many couples went out after he urged them. Perhaps the show producers could have “planted” some couples to start dancing after the first song. There are several amateur ballroom dance groups in the Twin Cities. Time went by quickly. Sad that there were many empty seats since Rieu’s shows have sold out before. As a kid, I would have been thrilled to attend. The producers should have invited school orchestras from around Minnesota to fill up the arena. Needed close captioning in English for the songs. Many audience members sang along with the traditional songs (I know some of the words). Allie’s dad, who died this past spring, was a member of a German vocal group and played the accordion so she got weepy during several of the songs. The show could have included another break. The encore was rather lengthy without a second break but overall it was a delightful show. American tunes were unnecessary.

I played a stringed instrument for about ten years and continue to be a strong appreciator of orchestral music. I was not a talented musician. My left hand had been injured as a child, which severely limited vibrato. My favorite classical music station was destroyed by MPR, I like The Current, but deeply miss St. Olaf Collage’s WCAL.

Waltz with me.
© 2011

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