Ruud and Ineke pay more than € 6000 for THE Vrijthof view: “Nowhere André Rieu is as good as here”. From the sound check to the spectacle that ends after midnight, Ruud and Ineke don't want to miss out on twelve of the fifteen concerts by violin virtuoso André Rieu, and they are willing to pay a small fortune for this. For three weeks they enjoy the best view of the Vrijthof that a fan could wish for. What makes André Rieu so great according to these super fans? “No, it's not cheap. But if you are so moved by the world-famous performances, you are only too happy to be able to do it. The Hague couple Ruud and Ineke Elshout-Cornelissen have been booking a hotel room at the Vrijthof for sixteen years. "With overnight stays of € 340 per night (on concert days: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday the hotel charges this price. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are cheaper). Significantly high prices, but nowhere André is as good as at home in Maastricht." And Ruud and Ineke should know. In the thirty years that they have followed the musician, they have traveled all over the world. They saw more than two hundred concerts. “It took us to special locations such as Vienna in front of the Schönbrunn Palace, Australia and the USA. All over the world it is a spectacle where neither expense nor effort is spared. But we always look forward to Maastricht the most.”Perfectionism, nerves and Ivo Niehe. Rieu is a real perfectionist, the two notice at every concert. And certainly also in his hometown. “He's been doing it all his life. Yet he is still visibly nervous before every performance. You really shouldn't talk to him half an hour before a concert starts. Everyone around him knows that. Except for Ivo Niehe, who once went wrong with that.”The perfectionism makes the performances so impressive. ,,He controls everything even the costumes. He notices every missing button. The concerts are always spectacles with fireworks, an impressive decor and imposing extra-large orchestra. In the past, too much money was sometimes spent on this, which even resulted in a loss for the Rieu company.” While some couples with special hobbies are not always interested in the same thing, Ruud and Ineke are both just as fond of Rieu's music. That started about thirty years ago after they first saw him in the Amsterdam theater: Carré.He has no contact with any of his fans. Since then, the residents of The Hague have already attended more than two hundred concerts, but they do not call themselves super fans. No, with that word Ruud thinks of women throwing their underwear to Tom Jones, or something like that. Actually they have never really spoken with André Rieu. “That is a conscious choice of André. He has no personal contact with any of his fans. He doesn't do “meet and greets” like other artists might do. And the two can live with that. “We don't feel that need. What should I say to him, other then that I like his music?” Ruud wonders aloud. Ruud and Ineke do have intensive contact with other fans. The two have been running a website for about fifteen years with all information, videos and facts about Rieu. “The first weekend we have met many friends from all over the world. It is a huge reunion of familiar faces. This weekend was a Burgundian enjoyment with a fan dinner, fan picnics, snacks and drinks together. A little too many drinks,” admits Ruud. Childlike joy in Japan, pillars of salt in Brussels.According to Ruud and Ineke, the audience also makes Rieu's concerts so special. “For this series on the Vrijthof, people from ninety different countries traveled to Maastricht. They are completely absorbed in the music. You can notice that. The violinist travels all over the world and is also extremely popular in countries such as Mexico, Australia and Japan”. Every audience has something special, according to Ruud. “In Lisbon, the audience danced and moved the most. In Japan, at first the audience is watching stiffly and earnestly, until André plays the Radetzky March... when the balloons use to fall down. During that song you see a childlike joy in the audience. Only in Brussels the public was less enthusiastic. They sat there all the time, like pillars of salt.”Next year again.Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra have now completed six of the fifteen concerts. Ruud and Ineke have been twice in the audience and enjoy the rest of the concerts from their hotel room. Will it never get boring? No, the couple insists. “André doesn't release that much new music, but we always experience every night differently. We have already booked the room for next year.”
The Hague’s local newspaper and AD, July 16, 2022, photo: Harry Heuts. Translation: Ineke.
RTL 4, RTL Nieuws, Editie NL,18 July 2022.By Jessica Sindelka. Translation: Ineke. Photos: Ruud and Ineke.Three weeks in a chic hotel on the Vrijthof for the best view of André Rieu: 'Precious' € 340,00 per concert day per night.They have attended more than two hundred concerts all over the world, know all the members of the orchestra and run a website: Ruud and Ineke Elshout-Cornelissen love André Rieu. Now that their favorite orchestra leader is playing in Maastricht again, they have booked the best room for three weeks, with a view on the Vrijthof. It has now become a regular habit: during the André Rieu's concerts in Maastricht, Ruud and Ineke from The Hague stay in a hotel on the Vrijthof. They have a perfect view of the concerts from their room. They have now completed eight of the 15 concerts. "Some concerts we experience on the square, others we watch from the room. Then friends come along and we drink a glass of wine together," Ruud tells Editie NL.Precious. They have to dig deep into their pockets. "Normally this room costs about € 120,00 per night, but on concert evenings we spend € 340,00" says Ineke. "We will only stay for the next four concerts, because otherwise it will be too expensive. I am afraid that we will miss things (like a “Meet and Greet”by orchestra members), but so it be." We have already attended more than two hundred Rieu performances and have traveled all over the world for this. "First of all, the music appeals to us, of course," says Ineke. "But it's also the whole organization, the perfectionism, the jokes and the show. And André's charismatic appearance." Dancing. Especially the last 45 minutes of the concert, after the Radetzky March, it is always one big party.(The encores.) "Then the real fans get up, go at the front and there is a lot of dancing. I may be 79, but I'm still dancing at the front," says Ineke proudly. The annual concert series on the Vrijthof is the cream of the crop for the couple. "Fans from all over the world come here. This year there are more than ninety nationalities present", Ruud knows. The couple knows many fans in person. "For us, the event is sixty percent fans, forty percent music. The concerts at the Vrijthof are one big reunion. That makes them so much fun."Fan website. Ruud and Ineke owe all these contacts largely to the website they run. From concert programs to “In memoriams” of fans. Everything surrounding André Rieu is recorded in detail. "During the concert series, we are working on the website almost full-time. Our hotel room is an administrative center during the day," says Ruud. In all these years they have met the orchestra leader himself only once. "That was only briefly, about two seconds. He keeps off contact with fans." They do know the orchestra members. "Some only by face, others really personal. You can now also come across them in the supermarket in Maastricht, which is great fun." Never boredFor the concert series in 2023, the couple has already taken an option on the hotel room. Does it never get boring? "Everyone asks that," says Ineke. "We don't think so. The music is broadly the same, but the audience and André's reaction to it is different every time. The music still gives us goosebumps."
L 1 (Limburg TV) interview with Julia McCarthy-Fox and Kathy Prater in Maastricht.
After three years of Covid lock down, André Rieu's concerts on the Vrijthof are back in full swing and attract thousands of visitors from all over the world every day. Even from New Zealand! Kathy and Julia got to know each other at a Rieu concert in California (2018), fell in love and married. They attend as many concerts as possible and even received a personal congratulation from André when they got married in New Zealand. These days they can of course also be found in Maastricht, all four weeks.