"Every time when we come back from Ireland, I say this is the best audience of the whole world!" Many say it, but violinist and maestro extraordinaire André Rieu means it.
"They are so witty. We play on stage and they suck every note out of our instrument," he told Ryan Tubridy, live from his hometown of Maastricht with the sounds of his famous 60-piece orchestra in the background. He’s not long putting them to work and they strike up a jaunty version of The Wild Rover for the occasion. The Maestro is no stranger to Irish tunes and has even accompanied the Dubliners in "the old Point, before it was renovated" – spoken like a true Irish man.
Listen - Andre Rieu talks to Ryan Tubridy:
His orchestra is famed for their fun, their flamboyance and the special relationship they share with audiences who fall over themselves to get a piece of the André action, but what makes them so special?
"We really play with our hearts," he responds. "I was sitting myself in a so-called official symphony orchestra and all my colleagues were speaking about, it was too hot and it was too cold, when is the next holiday and can we have more money and nobody spoke about the music. My wife saw me coming back from rehearsal every day unhappier than the day before and she said, OK, I will earn the money for you and you follow your dream and that’s the moment that I formed my own orchestra with young people who want to play with the heart."
"In my classical times, we never spoke about the audience," André told Ryan. Now, he and the orchestra sit down after each performance, share food and talk almost exclusively about those who came out to see the show. It’s the flow of love, appreciation and interaction between orchestra and audience that brings listeners into the performance and sends them home on a high and this is the greatest thrill André could have imagined in his more stilted, serious classical days.
The thrills don’t stop there either. Having conquered the world and established a phenomenal global reputation, the next goal can only be extraterrestrial – a concert on the moon!
"I spoke with Richard Branson because he said to me he’s going to build a hotel on the moon, and I said I’ll be the first to play there with my orchestra - but can you tell him to hurry up?"