Square Sentiments: The Moving Presence of Religious Heritage in André Rieu's Musical Performances

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This paper investigates the revaluation of the Christian past as heritage in settings that are generally regarded as secular and entertaining. Empirically, my focus will be on the roles given to the Saint Servatius Basilica in Maastricht and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the musical performances of the world’s “King of the Waltz”, André Rieu. By incorporating religious heritage in his concerts, Rieu taps into the nowadays well-established conviction that such heritage is relevant for society as a whole. “Moving presence” is intended in both senses. The churches move along with the orchestra through the transnational space of the André Rieu performances, which is, as I argue, an affective space: the churches tend to move people in one way or another, generating affective or emotional involvement. Asking how the emotive potential of religious heritage is mobilised, and by virtue of what means Rieu succeeds in making the iconicity of the local and transnational heritage act in concert, the paper shows how Rieu’s “techniques of magnification” work in tandem with the maestro’s affective recollections of his religious past, to create a performance that is both spectacular and persuasive.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnthropological Notebooks
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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