Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lawrence Welk Reborn - Andre Rieu!

My angel and I took a quick trip to Toronto this weekend to see Andre Rieu and his orchestra at cozy little Rogers Centre where the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball. About 20,000 grey haired fans joined us to see Andre lead his 35 musicians and 8 singers in a two hour show. We went because we had seen him perform in several public television specials, and we like all kinds of music if it's done well.

Well, even from the peanut gallery it was obvious that Andre Rieu has a winning formula - fine musicians, lots of action, pretty lady and handsome men singers, engaging banter (sometimes serious), and an obvious dedication to making the audience feel they got their money's worth. He's Dutch, but his bread and butter is Viennese waltzes. In addition to those, his orchestra played some Christmas carols, the Canadian national anthem, and Stars and Stripes Forever. The encores lasted about 30 minutes, which seemed to be part of the plan, and everyone went home happy.

I appreciated the professionalism of the musicians, which was evident at all times - even when they did silly stuff to meet the needs of some audience members. Seeing Rieu one time is definitely enough, but he's a real pro and has got his thing down so well that it's a money machine. As we walked back to our hotel, it occurred to me that Andre Rieu owes a big debt to Lawrence Welk - he's taken Welk's model, exchanged polkas for waltzes, and made it work.

Toronto is perhaps the most ethnically mixed city I've ever visited, even more than NYC. Canada's liberal immigration policies have drawn people from everywhere, and they seem to mix quite well. Maybe our government should offer free vacations there for people from the red states...

1 comment:

Ron said...

Perhaps in lieu of free vacations, a mandatory part of K-12 education would be gaining an appreciation for the food and music of the world's various people. It'd be hard to hate the French once you've gained an appreciation for french fries and French wine, for instance.

Wait. I guess that is just one of those things that isn't true but should be. I'd echo your appreciation for and amazement with the diversity of Toronto.