Disco for the 19th century: Strauss’s waltzes

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Disco for the 19th century: Strauss’s waltzes

With a wave of his conductor’s wand, Andre Rieu will turn a gymnasium into a ballroom of waltzing couples. It happened last year, and will probably happen again when the Dutch violinist and conductor returns to Korea for a second time with shows today and tomorrow.
Accompanied by his Johann Strauss Orchestra, Mr. Rieu, 55, is well-known for presenting a different repertoire each time he performs, mixing classics with folk music and contemporary songs. However, as implied by his orchestra’s name, Mr. Rieu focuses on waltzes by Johann Strauss.
Mr. Rieu and the orchestra have been actively touring Europe, Asia and North America since the orchestra was formed in 1978. In Korea and Japan he has drawn audiences of over 20,000.
The secret to his success is a combination of musical talent with a witty and lively stage manner. Mr. Rieu plays this up with fancy costumes for musicians and various stage props. But the music he plays lends itself to upbeat shows.
“Most Waltzes by Strauss is not for performances but rather for festivals or parties, where young people dance and enjoy their time. Strauss mostly performed in large parks or dance halls where people enjoyed music more freely. It was like a disco club during the 19th century,” said Mr. Rieu in a recent interview.
At his Korean debut last year, many concertgoers unexpectedly began dancing to Mr. Rieu’s waltzes as the atmosphere became energetic. The scene was so unusual that it became news. Partly this is because Koreans are unfamiliar with ballroom dancing.
In this year’s performance Mr. Rieu will play violin and conduct the orchestra. Such multi-tasking performances have kept him popular in Europe since the late 1970s. Many European television channels air his performances during Christmas or the New Year.
For his Korean shows, Mr. Rieu is expected to play waltzes and marches by Strauss, in addition to classics from musicals including “My Fair Lady” and “Cats.” Rumor has it he knows a few Korean tunes too.
For more information call 02) 599-5743 or visit www.vincero.co.kr. For tickets, call Ticketlink at 1588-7890.

by Choi Sun-young
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