From The Back Desk - Frank Steijns, The Johann Strauss Orchestra
What's it like playing in André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra? Stretch limos and private jets, apparently - we spoke to violinist Frank Steijns to find out more.
Name: Frank Steijns
Instrument: Violin & carillon
Ensemble: Johann Strauss Orchestra
Why did you decide to become a musician?
After high school I was in doubt between studying Law or Violin. I thought violin would be the easy choice. I was wrong about that, but I never ever regretted that choice.
What's the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind?
A summer evening concert under a vast full moon in the Waldbühne in Berlin, an amphitheatre in the middle of the woods with a wonderful 20,000 people audience. I had shivers all over during that concert, from beginning to end.
What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you on stage?
In all my enthusiasm, I have catapulted my violin into the orchestra after the last note of Bizet's Carmen Overture. After fitting all the pieces together backstage, I could join the concert again, luckily!
If you could work with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Leonard Bernstein. He was outstanding in everything he did: composing, teaching, conducting and performing as a pianist.
In concert, have you ever thought, "I can't actually play this bit very well, I'm going to mime and hope no-one notices"?
In over twenty years… probably yes ;)
Could you give us an example of the downside of the profession, something that the average concert-goer might not know about?
The traveling of our orchestra is sometimes exhausting, like playing with jetlag after long journeys. But the audience always gives us enough energy to cope with that.
Does the touring lifestyle bring out rock star behaviour in the orchestra?
André once brought a grand piano to a hotel lobby that we were not allowed to play at first, making a very nice around-the-piano party possible after a concert. He rented stretch limousines for everybody for our first concert in the USA and we used to have our own airplane and a mobile fitness room. But in general we behave well.
Have you witnessed any serious diva strops in your time as a musician?
Nothing more than one can expect, being on tour with a few sopranos and tenors.
What's the biggest challenge facing musicians like you these days?
To really touch people's hearts every night, not just playing the music on your stand but moving them by giving literally everything of yourself.
What's the best thing about being a musician?
When you play with your heart and do what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.
André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra is touring the UK in December 2014 - more information and tickets here.