It was Sunday again and it was time for the weekly Pianovers Meetup. Pianovers Meetup is a community event from ThePiano.SG, which has made it its mission to create a community of piano lovers in Singapore. Music transcends boundaries and is the common glue that cuts across all races, languages and religions. To this end, ThePiano.SG has been earnestly bringing together piano players and people who enjoy piano music. Every Sunday, without fail, a group of Pianovers – the name given to piano lovers – comes together at The URA Centre to play, listen to others play and to bond.
This evening, mother-and-daughter team Mentari and Desiree came early to join Yong Meng for dinner. Also present were David and his wife (both invited by Desiree), another family comprising Hiro, Winny and their daughter Erika. David and his wife, as well as Hiro’s family were here for the first time. What is commendable is that Erika would play later in the evening, despite this being her first Meetup. Apart from the aforementioned, Zafri and his sister Yarni (a newcomer), as well as Wayne, also joined the dinner party.
Following a sumptuous dinner, the passionate music lovers returned to The URA Centre, ready to start the programme for the evening. Owing to the fact that this Meetup session happened during the September school holidays, the turnout tonight was huge. Piano teacher Shu Wen brought her students over. We are heartened by the turnout tonight and appreciate everybody for having taken the time to attend the event!
Kicking off the Mini-Recital tonight was Gwen, who performed Lullaby by Johannes Brahms. This piece, first published in 1868, is perhaps one of the most famous and recognisable among young parents, for its has been used for generations to lull babies to sleep. Unknown to many, Lullaby was dedicated by Brahms to his friend, Bertha Faber, on the occasion of the birth of her second son. Brahms had been in love with Faber for some time. Faber used to sing to Brahms and he came up with this lullaby – known as Wiegenlied in German – that includes her singing as a counter-melody hidden within.
Zhi Yuan, one of our regular Pianovers, performed Snow White Medley. This was a 10-track medley comprising the following pieces, "With a Smile and a Song", "I’m Wishing", "One Song", "Whistle While You Work", "The Dwarf’s Yodel Song (The Silly Song)", "Heigh-Ho", "Someday My Prince Will Come by Frank Churchill" and "Mickey Mouse March by Jimmie Dodd".
Snow White is a famous character in children’s stories today, however, this personality first came to life in a 1937 Walt Disney film, based on a German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Disney’s personification of Snow White created a significant cultural impact. As a result, Snow White soon spawned popular theme park attractions, a video and a Broadway musical.
Next up was Siew Tin, who played 万水千山总是情 by 顾嘉辉. This piece, which is known as "Love and Passion" in English, has been used in Hong Kong TV drama of the same title in 1982. This TV series achieved one of the Top 10 highest viewership in TVB.
Zafri performed Lit (from Koe no Katachi / A Silent Voice) by Kensuke Ushio. Lit was a Japanese anime teen drama from 2006 and was based on manga of the same name. This anime, which was the 10th highest-grossing Japanese film of the year, told the tale of a school bully and a young girl with a hearing disability. The girl was bulled and ostracised due to her hearing disability. As fate would have it, the school bully himself found himself a victim in the end. Try as he might, he never manages to shed the bully label and finds himself isolated by the rest. Lit has important lessons in teenage politics and teaches youths about how one must first listen to others.
Next up was Rachel Liang Fang Yu, who performed The Cat And The Mouse by Aaron Copland, an American classical music composer. "The Cat And The Mouse" was based on an old fable, Old Cat and Young Mouse. In this story, a mouse is caught by an experienced cat and begs for her life. She tells him that she is small and would be better left alone so that she would continue to grow and make herself a better meal for the cat’s children. To her surprise, the cat rejects her proposal on the grounds that this is not nature’s way and that his children will find their own food eventually.
Wang Yi Fan came up next and played the Theme from Kidzania. KidZania is a kids’ city on Sentosa that allows children to learn in a very fun way. Best enjoyed as a day trip, Kidzania allows children aged 2 to 14 to try more than 100 exciting careers in role-playing format. It is an interactive place that offers fun and inspiration to the young ones!
Following Yi Fan’s performance was Jacelyn Koh, who played It's a Small World by The Sherman Brothers. This musical piece takes after the name of the attraction by the same name in Walt Disney Parks. It has been estimated that "It’s A Small World" has been played nearly 50 million times around the world. This makes it potentially the single most-performed and most-translated piece.
Aaron played Imperial March by John Williams. This piece was used in the 1980 version of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Also known as Darth Vader’s Theme, this piece is often played when Darth Vader appears, and is an example of a leitmotif, which is a "short, constantly recurring musical phrase" associated with a particular person, place, or idea. A famous instance of its use is in the Jaws movie.
Brandon Koh played next. He performed Clowns by Dmitri Kabalevsky. This piece was compiled in the ABRSM 2017 - 2018 syllabus Grade 3. It is the 20th piece (Op. 39 No. 20) out of the 24 pieces in total in Op. 39, which Kabalevsky wrote for children.
Alicia Lim came up next and she played two pieces. The first was Wheels on the Bus. This was an American folk song written by Verna Hills dating back to 1939. Owing to the nature of the lyrics, about the wheels on a bus, this song is often sung by children when they are on outings. This piece was followed by Do You Wanna Build a Snowman by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. This original composition was written for the award-winning Disney movie Frozen. Disney actually considered removing this song from the movie as it was too sad and too complicated. However, after the warm reception by Disney staff, it was decided to let it stay in the film.
Bosca came up and played Kiss the Rain by Yiruma. This piece falls under the genre of new age music and was compiled in the 2003 album “From the Yellow Room”. This piece is very popular and happens to be one of the most-played pieces in our Meetup.
Bosco was next in line and he played Für Elise by Beethoven. Yong Meng shared some trivia about The Mysteries Behind Beethoven’s Für Elise. Beethoven probably never wanted the version popularly played today to exist. He would have preferred the 1822 version instead. Surprisingly, there was never a person by the name "Elise"!
Albert, who is known for Chinese classics, played "甜蜜的夢" by 姚敏. "甜蜜的夢" is a popular children’s song written in 1952.
Wesley Chang played Always with me by Youmi Kimura. This piece was from a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film "Spirited Away", written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film recounts the amazing expereinces of ten-year-old Chihiro. When Chihiro enters the spirit world with her parents, they are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba. Chihiro then tries to free the whole family and return to the human world.
Following Wesley’s performance, Isao, one of our regular Pianovers, came up to the stage. Isao played Chopin's Bossa, based on "Insensatez" (usually translated to "How Insensitive" in English), a bossa nova jazz standard by Antônio Carlos Jobim. Before Isao started playing, he alluded to the use of his “secret weapon” - a portable speaker he brought to the Meetup. The video shows Isao activating the speaker, lending a nice complement to his piano music.
Usually, by 8:15pm, the Mini-Recital had concluded and everybody present would take a group photograph, before proceeding with the Open Segment. Today, however, the list was very long, so we took a short break during the Mini-Recital to take the photograph.
After the phototaking session, Yong Meng made two announcements. Pianovers were informed about ThePiano.SG’s participation in the upcoming Yamaha Piano Fair. As part of this event, Yamaha is working with ThePiano.SG in a scheme known as Pianovers Assist. Under this programme, ThePiano.SG helps match pianos contributed by kind-hearted people with those without the financial means to own their own pianos. The beneficiaries get to keep the pianos for six months, after which the pianos will be transferred to the next family in need.
Yong Meng also informed all present that the next Pianovers Meetup, the 49th instalment, will be held at Suntec Convention Centre. This will be a tie-up with Yamaha and see us conduct Pianovers Meetup during Yamaha’s Funtastic Piano Days. This special session will be held at Room 333 from 2:00pm to 4:30pm. Whether you’re a regular Pianover or reading this Digest for the first time, come join us and have fun with piano music on Sunday!
Following the announcements, the Mini-Recital resumed. We would love to include those who had previously registered and prepared their pieces, so we made the decision to continue with the Mini-Recital.
Teik Lee was the first to play after in this second segment of the Mini-Recital. He performed Titanium by Sia, David Guetta, Giorgio Tuinfort, and Nick van de Wall. Titanium was compiled in Guetta's 5th studio album "Nothing but the Beat" in 2011. It was hugely popular, having attained top 10 positions in several major music markets. In particular, in the United Kingdom, it peaked at number one, becoming Guetta's fifth number-one single on the chart and Sia's first.
Sylvia Chang took the stage next. Sylvia is the sister of Wesley, who played before the intermission. Sylvia performed 小幸运 by 张逸帆, which was the theme song for the 2015 Taiwanese movie “我的少女時代” (Our Times).
Newcomer Atsushi Morikaku performed after Sylvia. Because Atsushi is Japanese, Isao jokingly mentioned that he would be his "successor", because Isao would be returning to Tokyo soon. Atsushi performed two pieces. The first was Greenwich Witch by Zez Confrey. This piece dates back to 1921. Confrey was an American composer and performer of novelty piano and jazz music. His most noted works were "Kitten on the Keys” (1921) and "Dizzy Fingers” (1923). Atsushi’s second piece was Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. This piece was composed in 1899 and was considered an early ragtime musical composition. In fact, it became the most famous of all ragtime pieces, and Joplin became known as “King of Ragtime”. This piece provided him a steady income for the rest of his life. Joplin went on to perform other famous rags, like The Entertainer (1902) but did not repeat the success of Maple Leaf Rag.
Theng Beng one of our regular Pianovers, came up to the stage next. He played Medley of 上海滩 , 用愛將心偷 , and 一剪梅. 上海滩 was used as the theme song in the 1980 Hong Kong TV series of the same title, while 一剪梅 used as theme song in the 1984 Taiwan TV series.
Erika lishiba, a newcomer to Meetups, played Sakura, a traditional Japanese song, followed by Kono Omoi Wo (My Wish My Thought), composed by Koichi Sugiyama and used in the Dragon Quest game by Square Enix.
Mentari and Desiree played Waltz (from the Sleeping Beauty Op. 66) by Tchaikovsky. Throughout his career, Tchaikovsky had composed 3 ballets: Swan Lake (1876), Sleeping Beauty (1889) and The Nutcracker (1892). Sleeping Beauty is based on a 1697 work by Charles Perrault, "Little Briar Rose" (German: Dornröschen ). It is a classic fairy tale which involves a beautiful princess, a sleeping enchantment, and a handsome prince. Many versions of this story exist today. However, the earliest version is found in the narrative Perceforest, composed between 1330 and 1344 and first printed in 1528.
As if this was pre-planned, the lights at The URA Centre were switched off right after the last note from the last performer! Such was the great timing! Everyone present cheered! We were all clearly happy that no one who had registered to play was left out. From the cheers and jubilation, it was evident that we all felt a strong sense of bonding.
Due to the large group of attendees tonight, we received a lot of help when it was time to dismantle the equipment. Here, we would like to offer our sincere thanks to each and everyone of you who helped in what turned out to be the fastest teardown!
As the lights had been turned off at 9pm, we were all working in the dark, however, people continued to chat, even after the dismantling was complete. Some continued to stay long after that. This was the spirit of the Pianovers bonding at its best!