The only thing "star" like about Andre Rieu is that he travels like a rock star and lives in a real castle (honest, he restored it, in his hometown of Maastricht, which he mentions frequently in during his show). But meeting him in person, you couldn't ask for a more down to earth guy.
"Hello Dan, how are you," Andre asks after we met backstage at a recent show at Golden One Center. "The King of Waltz" had invited me, and my family, to have a bite to eat after his nearly three hour performance in Sacramento.
The Dutch conductor and violinist's concerts often outsell rock acts like Bruce Springsteen, and his debut album outsold the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson. But for Rieu, it's not about numbers or money, but about love and passion. "We never play, oh my god, for money tonight, it's always, always 100 percent with your heart."
And yes, if you're wondering, he's a perfectionist, and yes, he demands the best from his orchestra, but he makes no apologies. "Most of the people have been with me for 20 or 25 years. For me, making music is the most beautiful thing in life...it's the art form that touches your heart."
(ABOVE: Tenor Bela Mavark stopped me before the show to ask directions to his hotel)
Backstage after his concert, Rieu asked about my son's sax playing (remembering I had brought it up in our interview several weeks prior) and asks if he and my daughter would like a picture with him (both were overly tired and shy, so declined....but I didn't).
It's funny how nervous I was before meeting Rieu. I wondered if someone I've seen perform on stage, watched on TV, or listened to on the stereo in our home countless times would live up to expectations (whatever they might be) when I met him? I'm happy to say Andre did. And honestly, I was more nervous taking my wife and kids to his concert, because more than anything, I wanted them to like him (and for the record, all three did).
As we left Golden One Center, and headed back to our car, I wondered how many more times I would have the opportunity to see Andre and his Johann Strauss Orchestra perform. Then I remember something he had said to me earlier, ‘I will go on like this, travelling the world, for the rest of my life.’ I truly hope he does.
(BELOW: One of the brilliant performances at an Andre Rieu concert)