Since the last Pianovers Meetup, the group of piano lovers, affectionately known as Pianovers, had been looking forward to the next session. Therefore, it was with much anticipation that the group welcomed the next session on 6 August 2017. Each Sunday evening, Pianovers descend on Piano Park @ URA Centre to indulge in a delightful evening of music, sharing and bonding. Indeed, since ThePiano.SG was founded by Sng Yong Meng, he has made it his mission to connect people in the piano community.
Apart from Pianovers Meetup, which is one of its flagship events, the company is also actively organising other events.
December 2016 saw the debut of Pianovers Sailaway, ThePiano.SG’s inaugural sailing event that saw over 40 participants sailing under the stars with four pianos on board a luxurious yacht.
Then, in June 2017, Pianovers were treated to an evening of food and music when they attended Pianovers Hours. This was an evening event held in a restaurant that housed an elegant, white Essex-designed grand piano.
All these events have brought the community of piano lovers in Singapore closer. Contrary to what newcomers may think, all these events are not curated only for established or aspiring pianists, but also those who do not play the piano but nonetheless enjoy piano music.
At 5pm, a group of Pianovers arrived early to bond over dinner. Together, they walked to the Maxwell Road Food Centre, where they enjoyed delicious chow. This was exactly what happened this very evening. Ploy (Thai), Wayne (Hong Konger), Grace (Taiwanese) and Rowen (Malaysian) joined Pat and Theng Beng, both locals, for dinner. Grace was a tourist who joined us spontaneously; she met the rest at the two pianos. Like Grace, Rowen was a newcomer who joined us for the first time. It was interesting that this small dinner party alone had people of five nationalities! Music transcends borders and Pianovers Meetups bond people with a common love for music!
This evening, we had an impromptu group join us. Konrad (Hungary), Hui Min (Netherlands) and Christy (Malaysia), happened to walk past and decided to join us. They sat down and stayed with us throughout the whole event. We also had a new family join us this evening. This family comprised Venice Thew (Mum), Lim BH (Dad) and their children, Lim Vi Rey and Lim Vi Ron.
We were also surprised to see Wen Kai and Sixuan from Meetup #19 and #20 at Suntec City. Recounting the incident, Yong Meng noted that they were probably even more surprised when he called their names, a full eight months since they all last met in December 2016.
Herlina, a piano teacher, brought her students along. Teo Ming Yang, who was new and would play later that evening, arrived with his mum Pauline. Yen-Fay, also a newcomer, came with her mum, Sky Lye. She was also to play later that night.
Other newcomers that evening were Lynn Tan, Ray and Janice Liew. The latter two would play that night. It was wonderful to see many regular Pianovers too - Gregory, Wen Jun, Karen and Jimmy, as well as those who would be playing later this evening.
As this Meetup was conducted just three days prior to National Day, it was appropriately National Day-themed. To mark this occasion, Pianovers tonight came in either red or white. Pianovers Meetup is truly a platform that binds people from all walks of life, from different countries, and from different religions and races. It is truly a force of social cohesion. Even Kris, who is Australian, played 甜蜜蜜.
As a result of the attendance of not just the regulars but also a piano teacher and her students, as well as tourists and passers-by, tonight’s session attracted a big crowd. Even the cycling group, comprising Kris, Wen Kai and Sixuan, parked their bicycles and sat with us!
When the programme proper started, the first segment was the Mini-Recital. This is a section where pre-registered piano players went up to one of the pianos to perform. As tonight’s theme is National Day-related, the Mini-Recital this evening was split into two halves, the second half carrying a National Day theme. The many wonderful performances culminated in Zafri's performance of the most important song of all - Singapore's National Anthem.
Starting the Mini-Recital was Gwen and her piano teacher, Suzanna, who performed It's A Small World by The Sherman Brothers. Not only is this piece used in the attraction of the same title in Walt Disney Parks - a water-based dark ride located in the Fantasy Land, it is also estimated to be played nearly 50 million times worldwide on the attractions alone, and could be the single most-performed and most-translated piece of music to-date.
Wayne brought us further in the fantasy with One Summer's Day by Joe Hisaishi, used in the 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film "Spirited Away", written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film tells the story of a ten-year-old girl, Chihiro, who enters the spirit world together with her parents. They are, however, transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba, and Chihiro tries to free the whole family and return to the human world.
Siew Tin is an adult learner with a strong passion for the piano. Still taking piano lessons diligently, she has been playing different pieces, mostly Chinese classics, each time at the Meetups since she joined nine months ago. Today, she shared with us 问情 by Iskander Ismail, and 又是黄昏 by 纪利男. The former was also the theme song for the 1991 Hong Kong TV Drama "戏说乾隆".
Ming Yang excitedly showed us Allegretto: second movement from Sonatina in A, Op. 41 No. 12 by Johann Baptist Wanhal, and Bow-Chicka-Wow-Wow by Ben Crosland. Although Ming Yang was here with his mother, Pauline, he had been brought here by his piano teacher, Herlina Ong. Pianovers Meetup gives piano learners a platform to perform outside a classroom setting. They can also observe how others play the piano, which is truly a very valuable learning experience!
Another student of Herlina, Kung Yen-Fay performed Etude Op. 10 No. 3 (Tristesse) by Chopin. Composed in 1832, Chopin himself believed the melody to be his most beautiful one. "Tristesse" (which means sadness), however, was not named by him, but by music critics in the later years.
Yeo Ming showcased The Heart Asks Pleasure First by Michael Nyman, after spending six months to learn it. We are very encouraged by her hard work and happy for her for having progressed so much. This was certainly an achievement for her! We were also delighted to be there to witness the performance of a piece that meant so much to her! This piece was composed for the 1993 movie "The Piano". Set on the west coast of New Zealand, The Piano recounts the encounters of a 19th century mute but passionate piano player, who tried to have her piano back after it was sold.
Albert next played 忘记他 by 黄霑, and 朋友一個 by 卢冠廷. Although Albert is one of our more senior members, he still possesses the vigour of the young Pianovers. He is equally passionate about the piano, and loves to play Chinese classics. He truly finds joy in connecting with fellow Pianovers every Sunday. Truly, Pianovers Meetup is for piano lovers of all ages!
We had a visitor, Ray, who decided to join us in our social gathering, had happened to be at The URA Centre today. He even entertained us with Red Like Rose. Red Like Rose, which was composed by Jeff Williams, was used in the American anime web series RWBY.
Considered as the Korean drama that started the Korean Wave throughout Asia and worldwide, Winter Sonata features popular pieces like "From the Beginning Until Now", and My Memory, which Gee Yong entertained us with.
Kris surprised us with "甜蜜蜜". It is truly amazing how an Australian would perform a Mandarin track! "甜蜜蜜" was originally performed by 邓丽君 (Teresa Teng).
Yayoi, who first attended the Meetup at Suntec in Dec 2016, returned to perform "Nandemonaiya" by Radwimps, used in the 2016 Japanese animated drama film "Your Name" which tells the story of a high school girl in rural Japan and a high school boy in Tokyo who swap bodies. In a telling sign that Yayoi truly enjoyed the piece, she sang along loudly as she played this piece. Such was the enthusiasm that Yayo displayed! Kudos, Yayoi!
As mentioned earlier, the second half of the Mini-Recital was comprised of local songs that were used in the National Day period.
Dressed in our national colour red, Chris kickstarted the second half with a medley of "Stand Up For Singapore" (1984) by Hugh Harrison, "One People, One Nation, One Singapore" (1990) by Jeremy Monteiro, and "Home" (1998) by Dick Lee.
Janice, in white, continued with Shine On Me (2000) by Jim Lim, and Voices From The Heart (1986) by Tan Kian Chin (陈天进). The latter is translated from the original Chinese piece "小人物的心声", used as the theme song in the 1986 Singapore TV Drama 芝麻绿豆. Many Singaporeans would remember 蔡平开 in her role as "二姑" in the series.
Next, Desiree kept the spirit high with "Our Singapore" (2015) by Dick Lee, performed by pop singer JJ Lin. In 2015, Singapore celebrated its 50th birthday, and this NDP song also pays tribute to its pioneers and to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Theng Beng played a medley of "Majulah Singapura" (1958) by Zubir Said, and "Where I Belong" (2001) by Tanya Chua. The latter is easily recognised for its rocky tune and smooth melody. It was also sung by the combined school choir in NDP 2013, acknowledging the arrival of former prime ministers, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and ESM Goh Chok Tong.
Isao's rendition of Home (1998) by Dick Lee got many in the crowds to sing along. It was an emotional moment, given that many Pianovers had by now regarded The URA Centre as their home away from home. At this juncture, many of those present sang along. "Home" was written with both English and Chinese versions, and performed by Kit Chan. Until today, this song remains very popular among Singaporeans. Most Singaporeans would agree that "Home" is the best NDP song!
Zafri concluded the Mini-Recital with Majulah Singapura, our national Anthem. Although it was originally composed as a theme song for the City Council of Singapore, it quickly got selected as Singapore’s national anthem in 1959 and then received official adoption in 1965. These were important milestones in Singapore’s history, the first when Singapore gained self-government, and the latter being the year it attained full independence. Unknown to many, Majulah Singapura was originally composed in the G major key, before being relaunched in 2001 in the F major key.
The last item on the agenda was the Open Segment. Open sharing was everywhere tonight, as Pianovers excitedly shared their knowledge of music and exchange notes. Given the huge crowd tonight, everybody’s mood was visibly higher.
Today’s Group Photograph looked special, as it was a sea of white and red, in celebration of National Day. Although the Pianovers Meetup finished at 9:00pm when the lights were turn off, some Pianovers continued to stay on, even playing music without lights.
Here, we would like to thank Pat, Siew Tin and Albert, who stayed back to help pack our equipment. Thank you so much for your assistance!
ThePiano.SG is proud to announce its very first Pianovers Recital, to be held on 20 August 2017 at 7:00pm. For just SGD12, watch the captivating performances by aspiring performers in a true recital environment! Do not miss this event, and register today!