By Luke Voogt
UPDATE: Event postponed due to Geelong Arts Centre’s recent closure.
Mirusia Louwerse, dubbed the ‘Angel of Australia’ by world-famous Dutch violinist André Rieu, makes her Geelong debut this month in tribute to her childhood inspiration.
“I’ve never performed in Geelong,” said the singer, known onstage by her given name.
Mirusia comes to Costa Hall on March 27 with A Salute to The Seekers and Classics, in homage to the legendary band and her decade with Rieu.
“It’s a really beautiful venue and I’ve heard a lot about it from performers around Australia,” she said.
Mirusia was born in Australia in 1985 after her parents migrated from the Netherlands for her father’s work as a shipbuilder.
Dutch was the family’s first language, so her parents encouraged her to sing in kindergarten to learn English.
“I was like a parrot,” she said.
“What was discovered was I could sing all the songs in tune too.”
By age four, she decided she wanted to be a singer, she said.
“People would kind of politely giggle and say, ‘so what do you really want to be?’”
Then, at eight, her father played the Seeker’s 25th anniversary album on the family’s brand new CD player, which began Mirusia’s lifelong love of the band.
“I just absolutely fell in love with it,” she said.
“I used to sing to it all the time and I’d choreograph my own little dances to it.”
Mirusia studied opera at Griffith University’s Queensland Conservatorium and at 21 was the youngest-ever recipient of the Dame Joan Sutherland Opera Award.
About the same time, unknown to Mirusia, her aunt emailed Rieu suggesting he contact her.
“My mum worked in a Dutch retirement village so she was always playing his DVDs,” she said.
“[My aunt] said to him, ‘I think she sings really well.’
“Within an hour he actually did contact me. I thought, ‘who’s this pranking me?’”
The two spoke in Dutch and so began a decade-long partnership that would see Mirusia travel the world, based in Amsterdam, with Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra.
“A lot of the time you’re travelling from city to city, sitting in a car or bus trying to catch sleep where you can,” she said.
Rieu was as much a “joker” in real life as on stage, Mirusia revealed.
But he had a serious side too and paid incredible attention to detail during rehearsals, she said.
While she learned from Rieu “every day” performing to royalty and stadium-sized crowds, two important lessons stood out, she said.
“You just need to be yourself. And if you’re not enjoying standing onstage, it’s time to get off.”
Mirusia and Rieu would perform with The Seekers in 2011, who she already knew.
In 2019, Mirusia released an album titled A Salute to The Seekers and performed in sell-out shows across Australia with the original band members.
“Their music is so timeless, clean and family-friendly – anyone can listen to it.”
Lead singer Judith Durham, who has retired from live performing, gave her blessing for Mirusia to “sing the songs she made so famous with the boys”, she said.
“To have her support is amazing – she’s the reason I’m singing them in the first place.”
Mirusia will perform Seekers classics such as Georgy Girl, her own songs and classical music from her time with Rieu.
“I started out singing country music,” she said.
“So I like surprising audiences by switching from opera to country.”
Another surprise could be a Seekers member appearing during the Geelong show, Mirusia hinted.
“Let’s share some of beautiful music together,” she said.