The streets of Maastricht were humming Ave Maria

 

The life has been really generous with me and gave me the chance to raise my head above the crowd to see how the world truly is.

A long time ago, I visited one of the pioneer electronic music festivals, driven by teenage curiosity. Everybody at the time was talking about these amazing electronic music festivals being organized around the country.

Ave Maria and electronic music collide…

Soon you will understand the connection between the Netherlands – one of those countries you have to travel to if you want to experience the most authentic and original music innovations – and the song Ave Maria.

Ready to hear what happened to me during that short trip to the Netherlands, and how much it influenced my life?

I was driving en route back to Italy, when I realized it was the very first time in my life being in an amazing country like the Netherlands, and that it might also be the last. I would like to think of the Netherlands as an amazing country because they truly really are. Everything positive you might hear about the flat country Nederland, is true. I am quite sure it might be really hard to find a country like that.

Before visiting the House of Orange-Nassau Kingdom, I remember all these Dutch students who were coming to Italy for a week to stay with Italian families (thanks to a high school student exchange program). I was amazed by their good English and their sunny disposition all day long. I can recall even now, several years after graduation, their narrations of their exchange programs. I was convinced, and still am, that the Dutch mentality is innovative, bringing with it many revolutionary ideas to the world.

I would like to further explain to all of you why I realized the Dutch People are revolutionary.

 First of all, they love their country, and their country loves them. While the world is worried about politics and their Bloody GDP Growth (Gross Domestic Product) , the Dutch people’s toughest problem is choosing between Italy or Spain for their next summer holiday. Exactly! Their country loves them by giving them the opportunity not to worry about their jobs.

Secondly, they bike everywhere which allows them to breathe in the fresh air and live a healthy lifestyle. Because of this, they don’t need a vacation to escape to, because they live in the best place where to enjoy your fresh and clean air.

Thirdly, when the rest of the world was still thinking of ways to produce fossil fuel, most of their houses were already powered by green and renewable resources.

Well, while I was driving, the idea of leaving the country (with only with a music festival and some pictures from the highway) was killing me. I was thinking to myself:

What if I will never be able to step back into this country…would I be happy with this experience?

It was in that moment that I exited off Highway A2 (towards Belgium, then France, then Italy) and drove to the nearest town. The sun was still strong and I remember the amazing roads they had. The cute and tidy houses made of bricks or stones, were accompanying me towards downtown.

After 5 minutes I wasn’t able to drive anymore. I needed to park and continue my adventure on foot. I left the car and was walking among other people, as I listened to music on my smartphone at a high volume.

Once I arrived at the sign indicating the City Centre, I decided to grab an espresso.

Taking off my headphones, I realized the streets of Maastricht were humming the song Ave Maria

Holly tomolly, my skin was full of Goosebumps and I couldn’t control it, not even with my (insanely expensive) espresso. That song flooded my ears with a melodic tune. I was able to recognize the various instruments. My first thought was feeling happy at not leaving the Netherlands without a final stop in this beautiful city.

In my broken English, scattered with plenty of Italian words, I asked a blond haired woman, “What is happening this evening in Maastricht?” And of course, she answered me in perfect English that night the city was hosting one of the Billboard Top 25 Tours in the world. That night, destiny gave me a huge present and brought me to the most important concert that Andre Rieu organizes every single year in Maastricht since 1988.

What? I was born in 1988, have a love of music, and I’d never heard of Andre Rieu before.

After the coffee, I kept walking through the downtown and the music grew stronger and even sweeter to our ears.

My travel buddy had his camera with him and we still had our Press Badges (which sometimes allows you not to pay for expensive events).

Guess what?

 

Yep, we snuck in and got two free tickets as free press journalists. Smart, I know!

Within minutes, I was amazed as we listened and watched this huge stage (I found out from an Italian tourist who was there that evening that Andre Rieu’s stage that year was one of the biggest ever to go on tour). There was an amazing audience with flags in hand from all over the world.

I remember my childhood orchestra concerts in my town were nothing like that. He was winning the people’s hearts (mine too) by adopting a very simple technique: He was providing a happy and smiley atmosphere with his orchestra, not a serious and somber one.

I remember when I was younger, going to an orchestra concert and I couldn’t laugh or cough without somebody from behind me touching my back and asking you to show respect.

This man was doing what a Dutch person does. He was revolutionizing the orchestra. He was surrounding his stage with youthful and enthusiastic musicians.

He was winning the attention and the heart of a young man (me) who, until that day, knew Electronic music was his favorite music. That young man was wrong.

In 1987, his revolutionary idea of creating the Johann Strauss Orchestra was really smart. Twenty years later, he was winning me, a young and musical ignorant man. With his 1667 Stradivarius violin and his 100+ musicians behind him, he was giving to the old Waltz music a perfect revival magic. The classical works were played in such a way that the chords and the sounds of the instruments were winning my ears and heart.

That night, the two times award winner of World Music Awards, Andre Leon Marie Nicolas Rieu, an ‘’old guy’’ (born 1 October 1949) was my Orchestra DJ. On that day, I was learning something else: the importance of traveling.

Traveling gives you the chance to see how everything works from multiple perspectives.

Traveling can change the person you are and sometimes for the better. Meeting people of different cultures teaches you a better way to interact with others.

Through experiencing cultures that are different than our own, we can find a way towards an international peaceful cohabitation.

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