Pianovers Meetup #49 was held on Sunday, 10 September 2017. In a departure from the usual routine, this gathering was not held at Piano Park @ URA Centre. Today’s Meetup was part of an ongoing collaboration with Yamaha Music Singapore. This week, Yamaha held an event known as Yamaha Funtastic Piano Days at Suntec Convention Centre, and we at ThePiano.SG were delighted to part of it. Held over the 9-10 September 2017 weekend, we were glad to have conducted our special Pianovers Meetup from 2:00pm to 4:30pm in Room 333.
Since ThePiano.SG was formed, we have been very active in bringing together people who are passionate about the piano. These were not just aspiring pianists but also non-players who love piano music. We believe that music transcends boundaries and has the potential of creating bonds between people of different races, religions and cultures.
Since July 2016, we have conducted a weekly gathering for our piano lovers – affectionally known as Pianovers – during which they are able to have a stage to perform in. A typical Sunday evening event sees us meeting at 6:30pm, before enjoying the performance of our aspiring pianists in what is known as Mini-Recital. We are glad that the weekly Meetup has given these passionate Pianovers a platform in which to showcase their skills and practise. It is even more heartening that after experiencing the Meetup, Pianovers are so excited that they even bring their families and friends to join the following week!
Having a Special Meetup in the cool confines of Suntec Convention Centre was an exciting change for us. Not only were we able to have an event venue with better acoustics, we were also able to participate in the Yamaha Funtastic Piano Days.
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Yamaha for its support in our Pianovers Assist programme. Under this programme, a beneficiary enjoys the use of a pre-loved piano for six months free. Then, the piano will be received by the next beneficiary. Yamaha supports Pianovers Assist during the period of the Yamaha Piano Fair, which runs from 18 August to 30 September. When you donate your Yamaha digital piano during this period, you will be rewarded with discounts off your new purchase of a Yamaha digital piano.
At 2pm that afternoon, ThePiano.SG already had the meeting room set up and ready. Yong Meng, the Founder of ThePiano.SG, gave a presentation to all present to share what Pianovers Meetup is. Much to our delight, the room was packed to the brim that afternoon! The staff at Yamaha were very kind in bringing in extra chairs for the benefit of those who had to stand. A big Thank You to Yamaha for this kind gesture. Just like in our regular URA Centre Meetups, many newcomers arrived at each Meetup. Also present were those who had been invited by our regular Pianovers. We are happy that after our Pianovers attend the Meetups, they gain so much positive experience that they invite their families and friends to join them!
The Mini-Recital got off to a start!
First to perform was Gwen, who played Aura Lee, which was composed in 1861 by George R. Poulton. Aura Lee was a song about the American Civil War and had a maiden as its protagonist. Because this tune was adapted for use by Elvis Presley in his #1 hit “Love Me Tender” (1956), it is familiar to most modern-day music listeners.
Following Aura Lee, Gwen performed Can-Can, written by Jacques Offenbach in 1858. This piece gained popularity from its use in the opera bouffe named as “Orpheus in the Underworld”.
The third piece from Gwen was Theme from Swan Lake, a 1875 piece composed by Tchaikovsky. Although this piece met initial failure, it is now a very popular ballet, claiming one of the top positions on the popularity list! Last but not least was A Riddle (Tumbalalaika).
Siew Tin was up next, with 大海 by 陈大力 and 陈秀男. Siew Tin, who is known for her Chinese classics, is an adult piano learner. Although she only started learning the piano recently, we can see her passion and determination in her learning journey. The self-discipline that she possesses is a good example for many learners among us, who may want to learn but procrastinate. Well done, Siew Tin! We support you in your learning journey!
Seah Li Yi was up next and performed three pieces from Mark Gibson, namely Recital in C, Puppets and MoonLight Waltz. Li Yi, along with Zanetta, Zechariah and Zhi Zhen, who performed next, are all students of piano teacher Woan Ling, the lady whom we thanked for assisting in the event. It is very gratifying to see piano teachers bringing their students along to give them exposure in their music journey!
Zanetta Chan and her brother, Zechariah, were up next, and they came together to this event as newcomers. Welcome to Pianovers Meetup! Zanetta performed two pieces: Sonatina No 3 in F, 1st movt, Allegretto by Thomas Attwood, and Winter Waltz.
Zechariah Chan, like his sister, also performed two pieces. The first piece was Sonatina in F Op. 68, 3rd movt, Rondo by Anton Diabelli. This was followed by Marche Slave by Tchaikovsky in 1876. Marche Slave has its roots in the Serbo-Turko War. To support the Red Cross Society and ultitimately, to help the wounded Serbian soldiers, the Russian Musical Society commissioned this piece from Tchaikovsky.
Zhi Zhen, who came with Zanetta and Zechariah, played three pieces: Andante (from Surprise Symphony) by Joseph Haydn, Sailing and Ferris Wheel. Hadyn’s music is known for having many jokes, and the Surprise Symphony offers a very interesting illustration. Listeners are caught by surprise by the use of a sudden fortissimo chord at the end of the otherwise piano opening theme in the variation-form second movement. Following that, however, the music reverts to its original, quiet tune. This gives the impression that nothing has happened and the joke is never repeated.
Chris Khoo came up next and got the audience to guess the songs he would be playing in the upcoming medley. The audiece was game to participate and got all the names right. It turned out that Chris played "Feather Theme (from Forrest Gump)" by Alan Silvestri, "All I Ask of You" by Andrew Lloyd Webber, "I Dreamed a Dream" by Claude-Michel Schönberg, "Sun and Moon" by Claude-Michel Schönberg and "Love Story" by Francis Lai.
The regular Pianovers couple, Vanessa and Mitch, played You're My Best Friend by John Deacon in 1975. This piece, written by Deacon for his wife, Veronica Tetzla, has a very interesting music video. In this video sequence directed by Bruce Gowers, the band is shown in a huge ballroom, decorated with a huge chandelier hung from the ceiling. What is eyecatching is the set of over a thousand candles surrounding the band!
Keisha Anargya Devina was up next and played Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel. This piece was recently made popular in the mainstream again when it was used in a viral Japanese advertisment drama about a father learning to play the piano for the first time during his daughter's wedding. This piece also experienced a rise in popularity again when it was used in a romantic scene in the 2001 Korean movie "My Sassy Girl", where the lead male actor was disguised as a food delivery person and entered a crowded auditorium. After the female actor played George Winston's Variations on Pachelbel's Canon in D on the piano, he presented her with a rose. The encounter culminated in the couple hugging each other.
Dhafin Praditya Rizaldi came up next and played Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin. This piece was composed in 1834 and published posthumously in 1855. This was despite Chopin’s instruction that none of his unpublished manuscripts should ever be published. The mystery was probably given an explanation more than a century later. In 1960, pianist Arthur Rubinstein acquired the "Album of the Baroness d'Este", which had been sold at auction in Paris. In this album, he found a manuscript of the Fantaisie-Impromptu in Chopin's own hand, dated 1835. Chopin had stated on the title page in French "Composed for the Baroness d'Este by Frédéric Chopin”. As the words implied, this piece was probably commissioned by the Baroness.
David Ennes came up next and played a piece by Franz Schubert, "Impromptu in C minor, Op. 90 No. 1". The Impromptus are belong to a series of eight pieces for solo piano composed in 1827. They were published in two sets of four impromptus each: the first two pieces in the first set were published as Op. 90 while Schubert was still alive. The second set, however was published posthumously as Op. 142 in 1839.
Jinny brought to us a modern piece by Dick Lee, Bunga Sayang. This piece came from the Singapore musical, Kampong Amber. It is also used in the theatrical performance screened on the Heritage Zone façade, located in the brand new Terminal 4 of Changi Airport and is dedicated to Singapore’s Peranakan heritage.
Heok Hwa, the son of Jinny, came up next and brought us Lullaby by Cornelius Gurlitt.
Jun Theng, Heok Hwa’s sister, played Little Blue Bird and Morning in the Forest by Klugmann. Jinny, Heok Hwa and Jun Theng, make up one of the music-oriented families who come and play together. It is heartwarming to see a family bonded by their love for music.
Jaime, the sister of Jinny, played 原来你什么都不要 by 郭子. This piece, compiled in the 1996 album "姐妹", became popular when it was performed by A-mei.
Following Jaime’s performance, her daughter, Cheng Leng, played The Hen and Her Chicks, then 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart) by 翁清溪 (Weng Ching-hsi). This piece caught everyone’s attention because this was an adult piece that was performed by someone so young. It was then no surprise that Cheng Leng received a thunderous applause after she was done! Interestingly, this piece was previously performed by her mother, Jaime, during one of the weekly Meetups.
Theng Beng came up next and played Waltz in C-sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2 by Chopin. This piece was composed in 1847 and was dedicated to his student, Charlotte de Rothschild. Chopin was well-known for his waltzes, which totalled 36. Sadly, out of this total number, only 18 to 20 are usually published. The rest are either in private hands or believed to be destroyed or lost.
Albert is one of our veteran Pianovers and he performed "つぐない (Tsugunai - 偿还)" by 三木たかし. This piece attracted the attention of Teresa Teng (邓丽君), who performed a cover. She once came to Singapore and sang in front of Singapore's National Theatre! The National Theatre was a famous landmark from the past, having been built at a cost of $2.2 million and opened in 1963.
Grace came up next and played Sonata in A, Kp. 323 (L. 95), written by Domenico Scarlatti (born in 1685) along with famous composers J.S. Bach and Handel. This sonata is also compiled in the ABRSM Piano 2017-2018 Grade 5 Exam Syllabus.
Yeo Ming came up after Grace and played "N's Farewell (from Pokemon Black and White)" by Shota Kageyama. Interestingly, N’s Farewell came from the video games Pokemon Black and Pokemon White, and is played amid an emotional scene after the climactic battles.
Like Chris Khoo who came up earlier, Teik Lee also played a medley comprising three pieces: Killing Me Softly with His Song by Charles Fox, I Will Survive by Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris and Fly Me To The Moon by Bart Howard. In particular, "I Will Survive" is a popular disco anthem and tells the narrator’s discovery of personal strength following a devastating breakup.
Next up was Jimmy Chong, who played three pieces: Misty by Erroll Garner (jazz standard written in 1954 by the pianist Erroll Garner), Cry Me A River by Arthur Hamilton in 1953 (made famous in 1955 with the version by Julie London) and All Of Me by Gerald Mark, Seymour Simons (popular song and jazz standard written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons in 1931).
Following Teik Lee’s performance, Julia Goh came up to the stage. She played two pieces, Yesterday and Can’t Help Falling In Love. "Yesterday" was composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1965 and remains popular today. It boasts more than 2,200 cover versions and is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music. "Yesterday" is a ballad about the break-up of a relationship. As one can tell from the melancholic nature of the song, the singer laments for yesterday when he and his love were together, prior to the breakup.
"Can't Help Falling In Love" was a piece composed by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss in 1961. This was a pop ballad originally recorded by American singer Elvis Presley. It was featured in Presley’s 1961 film, Blue Hawaii. As one listens, one may notice the catchy melody. Actually, the melody was inspired by the romantic piece "Plaisir d'amour" (1784) by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini.
Yap Ting Qing, Sarah came up next. She is the neighour of Yeo Ming, who has attended our Pianovers Meetups and was invited by Yeo Ming to join us today. She played Waltz in A, J. 146 by Carl Maria von Weber, who wrote an Opera – Euryanthe, which has the distinction of developing the Leitmotif technique to a level never seen before.
Janice performed "I Vow To Thee My Country". This was a British patriotic hymn which has its roots dating back to 1921. That year, Holst converted a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice (1912) to music. Holst achieved this by adapting the music from a section of Jupiter from his suite "The Planets" to create a setting for the poem. Some may find this piece familiar, as it was used as the main theme for many of Solvil et Titus advertisements - Time Tree, Penguin, That Year.
Wayne Cheung performed his rendition of Molly on the Shore by Percy Grainger. Molly On the Shore was written in 1907 by Grainger and dedicated to his mother on her birthday. It mostly features the woodwind section of the band, notably the clarinets and saxophones.
Aisham played Fairy Tail Main Theme by Yasuharu Takanashi. This piece was used in the Japanese manga, “Fairy Tail”. The manga recounts the adventures of a teenage wizard, Natsu Dragneel, as he hunts for the dragon Igneel.
Lee Sim Yee came up next and played When The Saints Go Marching In. Although there is no clear history about this song’s origins, it is believed to have originated in the 1900s from a number of similarly-titled gospel songs. These gospel songs included "When the Saints Are Marching In" (1896) and "When the Saints March In for Crowning" (1908). The first known recorded version of this song came about in 1923.
May Ling played More (Theme from Mondo Cane) by Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero, written for the soundtrack of the 1962 film "Mondo Cane". However, it soon caught the attention of performers, who did their own cover versions. Frank Sinatra adapted it for a swinging version and Duke Ellington did his ballad version.
Last but not least, Atsushi Morikaku came up to perform to the audience. The first was Athletic from Yoshi’s Island by Koji Kondo. The song has its origins in the gaming world. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a 1995 platform video game developed and published by Nintendo. In the role-playing game, players play Yoshi as he escorts Baby Mario through almost 50 levels of adventures. This game was successfully distributed in a franchise subsequently.
Atsushi’s second piece was Kitten On The Keys by Zez Confrey. Confrey wrote this piano solo in 1921 after he was inspired by the sounds produced when his grandma’s cat walked on the piano keyboard. This piece became hugely popular and Confrey subsequently composed many other pieces. Confrey’s other biggest seller was “Dizzy Fingers” (1923).
Following the record number of pieces played during the Mini-Recital, Pianovers Meetup #49 came to a conclusion. However, some stayed behind to have a go at the pianos in Room 333. The enthusiastic people did not stop here, though! Because this event was part of the Yamaha Piano Fair, there was a great selection of grand pianos, upright pianos, and digital pianos available for trying, scattered across the various rooms.
We at ThePiano.SG would like to say a special Thank you to Yamaha for giving us the opportunity to conduct our Pianovers Meetup in this very beautiful environment, and hosting us at this wonderful event. Thank you also for the gifts presented to Pianovers – Henri Charpentier’s Les Financiers.
A very heartfelt Thank You to Esther who provided assistance to those who wanted to register a piece to perform, and to Woan Ling, who manned the video camera. Their help was instrumental in ensuring the smooth running of today’s event.
See you at the next Pianovers Meetup #51 (Mooncake Themed).