With the one Knight we can never forget
                                                                                              Maggie Worman/Sonja   

Snoopy always starts his stories with ‘It was dark and stormy night.”  

Well, the Philly-Atlantic City weekend had plenty of that. Chilly, rainy, and winds with fifty mph gusts, and I hate to say
it, but it‘s all my fault. I left Kansas City at 7:30 Friday morning with a terrible storm on the way and one to two inches
of snow expected by morning. I ran, but I couldn't hide, and it FOLLOWED ME!

We all had a fantastic time anyway, because rain or shine, one of the joys of going to an Andre Rieu concert is
getting to see old friends again and meeting new ones.

The early part of Saturday, the weather had not caught up with me yet, a group of us, Kay Newton, Debbie Clark,
Sonja Harper, Eileen Olin, Bev Treichel, and I took a little walking tour to see the sites. Ben Franklin's grave,
Independence Hall, The Constitution Museum, with a wonderful program entitled 'We The People'.
In one room we saw marvelous life size bronze statues of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and all the other
signers of the Declaration of Independence. Something I hoped to see, because so few people realize, or remember
what Benjamin Franklin's words to the crowd were when it was finished and signed. When asked if he had given
them a Democracy. His answer was "No, we have given you a REPUBLIC!
It's up to you, to keep it."  It's there, somewhere, but we didn't have time to see everything.

We saw the Betsy Ross House, where she made the first flag of the United States, and her grave is there, on the
grounds. Did you know she had 13 cats – each one named for one the first 13 states? At least that's what they told
us. We saw the US Mint, too, but they weren't giving out souvenir samples. We ate lunch at a little café/tavern,   
                             and had real Philly-cheese steak sandwiches.

On our return at the hotel we found Laurie had arrived. Laurie Crowley did one super fantastic job of coordinating all
this. I don‘t know how she kept up with it, but it turned out great! (The hotel personnel got a little confused, but we
knew exactly what was going on, thanks to Laurie.)

Ready for the evening, we went to the Liacouras Center, and met the rest of our group. Chris and Siggy Plewa had
name tags for everyone. What fun it was to get to meet so many new Andre friends I
previously had only met through e-mails. It was nice to finally meet Joan Pinto, Christa Atkins,
Joe Fabrizio and many others.  
By then it was blowing and misting rain outside, but those stormy clouds had golden lining
in the form of a shining Dutch Knight. And was he ever shining that night!  THAT was an
Andre Rieu concert in spades. If I had to describe the 2007 US concert tour program in only
one word, it could only be MAGNIFICENT!

Andre brought back old favorites, Song of the Volga, Emperor Waltz, and Trisch Tratsach
Polka, Frederic Jenniges on the zither, that we haven't heard for a long time. There were several new pieces as well.
The Platin Tenors sang their hearts out and stole ours doing it. Suzan, absolutely gorgeous in her period costume,
sang I Belong to Me. You could feel the plight of lonely, struggling, unhappy Sissi in every word.

Andre introduced two new sopranos, Laura Engel from Chile, very pretty, and what a warm and lovely voice she has!
Not to mention that Latin sparkle in her eyes. Her rendition of Beseme Mucho was touching and tender and brought
tears to mine. Then we met a beautiful angel from Australia, Mirusia Louwerse, what a talented vocalist!

Yes, we all miss Carla and Carmen, but these two beautiful young ladies are not going to disappoint anyone. We got
to hear some tried and true favorites, too, those that never cease to tug at the heart strings, or make you want to get
up and never stop waltzing.

And then, there was my favorite. Ravel’s Bolero! Bolero is not an easy piece to play. In full length form, the Bolero
melody repeats 18 times without change during the course of the piece. Andre was given permission from the Ravel
Estate to shorten it. (much to the horror of rigid classical purists). Regardless of length, Bolero IS a very difficult piece
to play and get it right. Especially the all important drum beat that keeps the entire orchestra at tempo. Andre told the
audience it takes a talented percussionist to play the difficult rhythm, and said he was proud to have one in his
orchestra, Marcel Falize. And Marcel is incredible!  Bolero is also a difficult piece to conduct. I was mesmerized
watching. Andre stood there, back to the audience in formal conductor's stance – shoulders squared, feet together,
back ramrod straight, violin and bow in his left hand, beating that sensuous compelling rhythm with his right hand,
and Marcel‘s eyes seldom left him. Andre was magnificent perfection. He did it His Way, and nobody does it better.

Despite a lot of empty seats due to the severe weather, Andre and the orchestra put on a lively, upbeat performance,
as though it were standing room only, for an audience that was enthusiastic and responsive. He was pleased and it
showed in his own lively actions through the whole concert.

On to Atlantic City the next day – no time for sight seeing, the concert started at 6:00. More fan friends were met at
very nice dinner at the Tun Tavern, which was organized by Joe Fabrizio. I got to meet some Andre Friends whose
pictures are on my wall; Rita Bullitis, Marsey and Pete Peterson, Joan Levitt, Sue Berry, Ursula Grenzebach, Christa
Atkins and several others.

After dinner, we took cabs to the theater. They let us out at the Trump Plaza Casino, and we took the short cut
through it to the arena to get out of the wind. The wind by then was so ferocious it was almost impossible to get to the
main entrance on the boardwalk, and most people took the shortcut, which made for a very long line inside  the
casino.  Nice little place Donald has, but he was "in residence" - not that we would have stopped to chat with an
Andre concert waiting.

Both nights Andre was “up” and “turned on” and having a blast. So was the audience. The minute the music started,
they were on their feet cheering and waving as Andre and the orchestra came down the aisles. We waved Dutch and
Limburg flags and got some smiles. I was in the front row in Atlantic City, and the steps up to the stage were less than
two feet in front of me, so I was really up close for a few minutes. I'd seen the whole show less than 24 hours before,
but it was even better the second time around. I noticed something I missed the first time since I was watching Laura
Engel– it was Manoe, playing the guitar in Besame Mucho. The jokes, the antics and clowning were twice as funny,
and music so beautiful, I just shut out the world and got lost in it. Tears fell again, more than once. In case you didn't
know, that is Andre’s second gift - to enable his audience to feel what he feels in the music he plays. What a
remarkable man he is, how gifted, and how blessed we are to be able to enjoy it with him.     

At intermission, I traded seats with Eileen so she could sit on the front row the second half. Dan, the banner man,
Lycan, was also on the front row with several new banners, and Andre got big kick out them.

We all wanted it to go on forever, but the balloons came down and, as always, it was over too soon. During the many
encores, a little tiny old lady in the next row was dancing in the limited space in front of her seat, and I mean she was
really having a blast. Her eyes were even dancing. She was so cute, I laughed and said, “You go, girl!” She grinned
at me, took my hand, and said it was her birthday and she was 87 years old. I wish there had been time to get her
name, but she was busy having the time of life. She squeezed through the others in her row, got to the aisle, and
really cut loose. The last song, Lullaby and Goodnight, was played, and wouldn't you know, the luck of Andre was
with us. When we got outside, the wind had died down substantially, and the rain had stopped. Clara must have been
watching and liked the show - or the handful of linked sausages Andre threw out to the audience.

We caught a cab back to the hotel, and quite a few of us went to the Tun Tavern. While we were sitting at our table
enjoying a glass of wine and reliving the concert, several of the orchestra members, now in “civvies” came in. Before
long, half of them were there. We enjoyed talking with Bela Mavrak, Garry Bennett, Franco Vulcano, Nadejda Diakoff,
Frédéric Jenniges, and a few more for a short time.

Bela showed off his new crocodile shoes.   We had a nice chat with Nadejda.  She recognized the stitching on my
shirt (that is why I like to wear it) and remarked how very nice it was of us to make the cards for the orchestra.  She
was on 2005 tour, but at the time was not on the list on Andre's site, so I did not have a card for her in Cleveland, but
I made her a card later and gave it to her in Maastricht.   She remembered and we had a nice little chat.  Frederic
came and sat with us for a while, he says he does not speak English but he really does quite well.  He is from French
speaking Belgium and besides French speaks Dutch and German so if he did not know a word I was able to help
out.  He talked about how he has to make himself understood with gestures on stage, so he loves to do lots of talking
when of stage.  He is very nice and funny.    I chatted with Ruud and Franco.  I commented on Lin's new dress, which
is very pretty.   Franco then went out for a walk.   And after a while we went back to the hotel and left them to relax
and enjoy their evening privately.   
On the way up to our rooms, the elevator stopped and who was waiting when the doors opened?  Franco!  I think he
saw all those women and probably wanted to run the opposite direction, but he was a sport and I got my yearly
Franco picture.    Last year in Toronto I had made some Christmas stockings for his sons and he remembered and
told me his boys liked them.

And then it was over and we had to come down from our cloud and go back home.   There was still a nasty storm and
we could feel it driving back to Philadelphia.   The plan had been to do some more sight seeing, but with the weather
as is was we were lucky we all were able to get home.   Maggie's flight was canceled, but she was able to take an
earlier flight.    My flight was delayed and I did not get home until 2:30 and had to be at work at 7:00.  Needless to say
I was kind of tired.   But it had been worth it, we all had a wonderful time and hope to do it again next year.      

Sue Berry stayed another day and she made this collage of our leaving.     

She wrote me that 10 minutes after we left Andre came down into the lobby.  

About Andre in the lobby ... about 10 minutes after you all left, we were sitting on the couch by the door trying to
decide what we wanted to do that day when here came Andre.        At first he walked over to the wall (just to the right
of the front door) and leaned against it.    He was wearing a very long black storm coat with a scarf around his neck
and looking the most handsome I have ever seen him. There were no bright lights on him and in the natural lighting
he looked so different and did I mention so handsome!?!?!
He was just very relaxed and being himself  which was so exciting to see. I was sitting on that front love seat, so he
was just about 6 feet from me!!

He stood there for about maybe 5 minutes and then walked over and sat on the chair that was right behind the
loveseat that we were sitting on. I don't need to tell you how fast and hard my heart was beating!! ... I could smell his
Then Mirusha walked in with all her shopping bags and was showing Andre some of the things she had bought. He
was watching her and laughing like a dad would ... it was very cute to see.  A little bit later all the JSO started
streaming in the front door, arms loaded with shopping bags  from all the outlet stores where they had been shopping.

All in all Andre was there about a half hour and as we found out, he was just waiting for them  all to get back from
shopping so they could board the busses.

I never spoke to Andre, but I did look up once when he was leaning against that wall and he was looking at me and I
smiled and he kinda' smiled back ... I think my whole insides imploded!! ... And I don't care if I sound like a silly
teenager or not, I will carry that smile with me forever!! :)

They had sub sandwiches that were made for them and they were in a box on a table just behind where we were
sitting. As each of the JSO members walked over to the box to get their sandwich on the way out the door, many of
them smiled and said good bye to us. We had never said a word  the whole time. I thought it was so nice that they
must have remembered us to say good bye like that. I don't think my feet touched the floor the rest of that day!! :)
There is some talk at the US Mint about
getting a very attractive new $10 dollar bill.
Noel Crowley and Joe Fabrizio
Maggie Worman, Eileen Olin, Bev Treichel,
Kay Newton, Debbie Clark and Laurie Crowley.
Sharon Polsky and
Ellen  Webber
Pictures by Sue Berry, Kathy Mondello, Chris Plewa and Sonja