17 June 2017 marked a major milestone for ThePiano.SG. On this beautiful Saturday evening, Pianovers came together at Clarke Quay for what would be the inaugural Pianovers Hours. Taking on a very apt slogan “Indulge in an evening of piano music with Pianovers over dinner”, Pianovers Hours brings Pianovers Meetups to a whole new level, while allowing Pianovers to enjoy music and mingle over dinner in a cosy environment.
Pianovers Hours allows performers to play on a grand piano in a Mini-Recital as the rest enjoy the music. Every session, a speaker shares insights into a musical topic, while Pianovers have the opportunity to learn about offerings that may add value to their musical passion or career. An important segment of Pianovers Hours is the Recital Showcase, during which a performer will put on his or her best for Pianovers present. Needless to say, Pianovers Hours would not be complete without dinner! A mouth-watering main course dinner awaits all Pianovers.
This inaugural Pianovers Hours event was held at Bliss House, a very beautiful and cosy restaurant located in Clarke Quay Central. Boasting an “outdoor” grassy area in which diners can enjoy their meals seemingly close to nature, this restaurant also has a section known as the House.
Featuring a predominantly white deco, the House is inviting in its own right. True to the white, minimalist theme, the House even features white accessories that also give the premises an English cottage feel. The children were amazed at the mock fireplace, while the adults admired the toys and ornaments decked out among the white shelves. However, the main reason Bliss House was selected for Pianovers Hours was the white Steinway-designed Essex grand piano!
The passion present within Pianovers was evident on that Saturday evening. Although the event proper would only start at 6:30pm, some Pianovers arrived early, some as early as an hour before! Elyn, Siew Tin and May Ling, along with ThePiano.SG Founder Sng Yong Meng, were among the early birds.
We were very happy to have Junn Lim back with us! Owing to her pregnancy, Junn had missed our Meetups for several months. However, she made it a point to join us tonight, with a big tummy, and we certainly could not be happier! We were so happy to see her again. Junn was joined by husband, who invariably shared her joy of being reunited with Pianovers. Junn’s baby will be due in August, around the time when we will hold our inaugural Pianovers Recital (20 August 2017). We are all so excited about Junn’s upcoming delivery! Congratulations, Junn!
When all Pianovers had arrived, they settled down at the tables arranged in a long fashion. The Pianovers present comprised familiar faces, most of whom were regular Pianovers. As many of them had already become friends through the weekly Pianovers Meetup sessions, they started to mingle and socialise even before the event proper started.
At ThePiano.SG, we aim to bring together people in the piano community. These piano enthusiasts come from all walks of life but we welcome them into this close-knit community. While some are performers, others may love listening to piano music. That is the reason that every Sunday, without fail, Pianovers descend on The URA Centre to perform, to bond and to share tips with one another. We owe it to these piano lovers – known affectionately as Pianovers - to make this platform what it is today.
Pianovers Hours started at 6:30pm sharp, and Yong Meng got the ball rolling by welcoming the Pianovers, before introducing everyone present to this event. They were informed about how Pianovers Hours is different from and adds more value than Pianovers Meetup, as it features a speaker and a recital showcase, all in a comfortable environment that comes complete with dinner.
Following Yong Meng’s introduction was the Mini-Recital. Chris Khoo started the Mini-Recital with Fried Rice Paradise by Dick Lee. This piece was used in the 2010 "Fried Rice Paradise: The Musical", which was commissioned by the People's Association to commemorate 50 years of bringing people together.
Joining hands again, Corrine and Yun Wei delighted us with Petite Suite 3rd movement and 4th movement. Debussy's suite has been transcribed numerous times, the most popular being the orchestral version by his colleague Henri Büsser.
Ever so enthusiastic, Siew Tin entertained us with 两只蝴蝶 by 牛朝阳 that was compiled in the album of the same title, and used in the TV Drama "281 封信".
Junn performed a sentimental ballad How Does A Moment Last Forever by Alan Menken for the Disney 2017 live action film "Beauty and the Beast". In particular, it was first performed by Belle's father, Maurice, to describe the relationship with his wife.
Following the romance theme, Theng Beng continued with To Love You More by David Foster and Edgar Bronfman, Jr., which was released in 1995 and performed by Celine Dion.
Next up was Albert, a regular and supportive Pianover who has performed at almost every Meetup, since he joined in December 2016. While Albert is known for his Chinese classics, he plays the occasional Japanese piece. This evening, Albert delighted us with not one but two Japanese titles! Albert delivered "里の秋 (Autumn In The Village)" by Minoru Kainuma, and "ここに幸あり (There's Happiness Here)" by Saburo Lida.
Dressed in sweet pink to match the white grand piano, Julia ran her fingers for an emotional Saranghamyeon halsurok by Yoo Young Suk, theme song used in the Korean movie "The Classic"; and To Love Again, which is based on Chopin's Nocturne in Eb, Op. 9 No. 2, and used in the 1956 film "The Eddy Duchin Story". Carmen Cavallaro performed the piano music in the film.
Jenny performed an original composition titled Tenderly. We occasionally hear original compositions by Pianovers. Composing one’s music is evidence of one’s passion for music, and at ThePiano.SG, we truly support Pianovers in their composition journeys!
Even Jenny’s daughter, I-Wen, took to the stage with four short popular pieces, Mary Had A Little Lamb, Ode To Joy, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Hot Cross Bun! We just love how parents bring their children to our sessions. It is truly beneficial to expose children to music, especially in a group setting, at a young age, not only to hone their playing skills but also to allow them to build their confidence.
Zhi Yuan took the audience to a new high with the demanding Piano Sonata No. 6, Op. 10 No. 2 in F Major, 3rd Mvt Presto, written by Beethoven from 1796 to 1798, and dedicated to the Countess Anne Margarete von Browne. He also introduced us to Waldszenen Op.82, Einsame Blumen by Schumann, third movement from the set of 9 short solo pieces, Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), Op. 82.
GladDana showcased her original composition Elements in Tune 行韵, and even shared with us the background of the piece. Sharing among Pianovers is always encouraged as it allows listeners to appreciate the composition’s context better.
The Mini-Recital transitioned into a bossa nova environ as Wenqing swept us away with Samba de Verão by Marcos Valle. Also known as "Summer Samba" and "So Nice", this 1964 song was first popularised by the Walter Wanderley Trio in 1966, reaching #26 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Wen Jun played Flower Dance by DJ Okawari from his 2011 album Kaleidoscope. The song is a remix of the original the background music used in the dialogue of 1960 movie "Assignment: Outer Space".
Hungry pangs were addressed when the Mini-Recital was over, for it was time for dinner. Apart from the free flow of coffee, tea, water and juice, which were already available upon arrival, the session also provided a main course, which featured fish and chicken. Pasta was available as a vegetarian option. The main course had already been pre-selected prior to the event, via a link that Yong Meng sent to all Pianovers prior to the event.
Pianovers had a great time during dinner as the next segment of the evening took over. This was Speaker Sharing, and today’s speaker was our very own Goh Zensen. Zensen is a regular Pianover who has shared insights about piano playing and inspired many Pianovers with his love for the performing art. Zensen boasts a long history in music, starting with the clinching of the Championship in National Xinyao Competition as part of the stage band group Tiao Dong Lü (跳动律) in 1998. Zensen has gone on to perform at the Esplanade Concert Hall and publish his own musical arrangements. He has also won several awards in the music scene. However, one of Zensen’s most important achievements to date must be his attainment of the Master of Music Education at the National Institute of Education (NIE), with a GPA of 4.7!
This evening, Zensen shared about the topic "Sight Reading vs Play-By-Ear". As opposed to sight reading, which is reading from scores, Play-by-Ear is to play with improvisations, while not referring to the scores at all. Zensen compared the two very different styles of playing. None is better than the other, as each is important in its own way. As part of the sharing, Julia, who knows both sight reading and play-by-ear, was invited on stage to share her experience. When Julia was asked which skill she would forgo, she singled out sight reading. To Julia, play-by-ear would be the preferred skill to retain.
The final segment for the evening was Recital Showcase. The performer today was George Yeo, a 12-year-old boy with musical talents. George has attained the ABRSM Grade 8 and is currently preparing for his ATCI examinations. He was chosen as the First Prize winner at the 2017 Golden Classical Awards International Competition in New York, USA, for his age group. Because of his achievement, George was invited to perform at the renowned Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Having paid a recital registration fee, George was entitled to 30 minutes at the piano. George loves classical to contemporary pieces, as can be seen from the list of piece that he played:
- Allegro con spirit: 1st movt from Sonata in Bb, Op. 24 by Dussek
- Prelude & Fugue formed on an Indian Scale by William Alwyn
- Habanera by Emmanuel Chabrier
- Shui Cao Wu (The Dance of Watergrass): 3rd movt from The Mermaid Suite by Du Mingxin
- River Flows In You by Yiruma
- Kiss The Rain by Yiruma
- Sundial Dreams by Kevin Kern
- Refresh, George's original composition
Of course, this evening was not all about serious performances. We did not forget the social aspect of the evening! Following the style of the Pianovers Meetup, there was time allocated for open jamming. Pianovers had a group picture taken, before taking turns at the piano. This segment had no preset playing order, and Pianovers present were free to play on their own accord. True to the nature of the Pianovers community, people mingled with the performers to give encouragement, while others formed small groups and shared their knowledge about music. During these sessions, plenty of pictures were taken and Pianovers present were happy to bond with everyone else!