Pianovers Meetup #50 Digest

Pianovers Meetup #50 Digest
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We at ThePiano.SG were happy to have been reunited with piano lovers once again. On Sunday, 17 September 2017, passionate Pianovers – the affectionate term we give to piano lovers – converged at Piano Park @ URA Centre for our weekly Pianovers Meetup. Pianovers Meetup is a weekly gathering we organise to bring together people who are passionate about the piano. Apart from pianists – both seasoned as well as novice players – this event is also open to those who may not know how to play but nonetheless enjoy piano music. At ThePiano.SG, we have made it our mission to build an inclusive community of people related to the piano. Pianovers Meetup inaugurated in July 2016 and since then, people of all races and cultures have attended the sessions. Music transcends boundaries!

Every Sunday at 6:30pm, Pianovers gather at The URA Centre where they play the piano, enjoy piano music, exchange notes and bond over music. Over the months, Pianovers have formed a strong bond with one another. Some have brought their families along – it is not uncommon to see Pianovers bringing their children to join them – while others have brought their students – Pianovers Meetup is an excellent platform for those learning to play the piano to practise before a “live” audience. Sometimes, we have passers-by and even tourists join us! We are so glad that music has been bringing people together!

Pianovers Meetup #50 was no different. An hour before the Meetup proper began, some Pianovers met for dinner. This weekend, Gee Yong and Zafri arrived to join Yong Meng, Founder of ThePiano.SG, at the Maxwell Food Centre. Over dinner, the trio discussed music and updated one another about their musical journeys. Talking over delicious dinner certainly helped in the bonding! After the tummies were filled with wonderful local grub, it was time to trot back to Piano Park!

Here, the group was met by Aisham, one of the attendees at Yamaha Funtastic Days, part of the Yamaha Piano Fair, held at Suntec Convention Centre the previous weekend. Aisham even brought a friend, Zhong En, along! Apart from Aisham and Zhong En, we were also glad to receive a group of friends – Jonathan, Gigi, and their friend. All three were newcomers to Pianovers Meetup and had been introduced to it by Corrine Ying, one of our regular Pianovers. Jonathan and Gigi would play later in the evening. Kudos to the two young pianists!

The evening started with Yong Meng giving an introduction of ThePiano.SG and its mission. He highlighted the initiatives that ThePiano.SG has been taking to build a piano community. Apart from the weekly Pianovers Meetups, there have also been ad-hoc events like Pianovers Sailaway, Pianovers Hours and Pianovers Recital. One programme worth mentioning is Pianovers Assist. This is a social initiative in which old but working pianos are contributed to ThePiano.SG, which then matches it to an eligible beneficiary on a six-month loan. We want to provide assistance to people who wish to pursue their passion for music but are financially challenged. 

At 7:00pm sharp, the lights of The URA Centre came on and the first important segment of the Pianovers Meetup, the Mini-Recital, began!

Pianovers Meetup #50, Jonathan performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, David Ennes performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Siew Tin performing

Getting the ball rolling was Jonathan, who performed his original composition, Heisō (並走). Heisō (並走) is Japanese for “running in parallel” or in a different context, “mutual fate”. This song was inspired by the Japanese anime movie, Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name), which impacted Jonathan so much that he decided to emulate the “Japanese chords” of the soundtrack. This anime recounts the story of two star-crossed lovers separated by time and disasters. In one of the final scenes, the characters boarded two trains that ended up running parallel to each other. This created a fleeting, haunting moment of eye contact between the lovers. Jonathan was thus inspired to create Heisō. This piece would tell the story of the lovers’ parallel, almost-identical lives and lamentable truth that they would never meet again. Jonathan creatively expressed this by using, in his words, “the thematic 7ths to evoke a feeling of ‘near yet impossible completion’”.

Next up was David, who played two pieces. The first was Prelude Op. 28 No. 20 by Chopin. Dubbed the “Funeral March” by Hans von Bülow, this is part of a series of 24 Preludes, Op. 28, that comprised all the major and minor keys, composed between 1835 and 1839. This also coincided with the period when Chopin had a copy of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier with him.

David’s second piece was Prelude No. 1 (Danseuses de Delphes) by Debussy. This was a set of 24 Preludes meant for solo piano, divided into two books of 12 preludes each. Danseuses de Delphes refers to Dancers of Delphi, also known as the Acanthus Column. The three figures are perched on an acanthus column, an archeological piece discovered in Delphi. Debussy had not seen the real Acanthus Column, although he did see a replica. 

After David’s performance, it was Siew Tin’s turn to come onto the stage. She performed 菊花台 by Jay Chou. This was the ending theme of the 2006 movie "满城尽带黄金甲" (Curse of the Golden Flower). Costing USD45 million, this movie was the most expensive Chinese film at the time of filming. Incidentally, 菊花台 won the Best Original Song at the 26th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Pianovers Meetup #50, Albert performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Gigi Chen performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Yeo Ming performing

Albert, one of our regular Pianovers, put up a splendid performance. This was "几多愁" by 谭健常. This piece was based on 李煜's "虞美人" and was performed in 1983 by Teresa Teng.

Gigi was next on stage. She performed Summer by Joe Hisaishi. This was the theme song used in the 1999 Japanese film “Kikujiro”, which featured a young boy looking for his mother during a long vacation. The composer, Hisaishi, also wrote music for Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Yeo Ming came up to the stage next. She performed N's Farewell (Pokemon Black and White) by Shota Kageyama. If some of us find this piece familiar, it is because it is used in the video game Pokemon Black and Pokemon White. It is played after the battles, when an emotional scene appears.

Pianovers Meetup #50, Rachel performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Teik Lee performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Wen Jun performing

Rachel played Impromptu in E flat Op. 90 No. 2 by Schubert. Franz Schubert's Impromptus comprise eight pieces for solo piano. Composed in 1827, they were grouped into two sets of four pieces each. Set #1 was released when Schubert was alive, and is known as Op. 90. Set #2 was published posthumously as Op. 142.

Teik Lee played Theme from Love Affair, as well as Theme from Cinema Paradiso. Both pieces were from the same composer, Ennio Morricone. Ennio Morricone was also responsible for the track “Enduring Movement”, which was used in the movie The Legend of 1900. This movie was given mention in The Piano Duel in the Legend of 1900. The highlight of the film came when 1900 played so vigorously that the strings of the piano turned hot, enabling 1900 to light a cigarette.

Wen Jun performed Boku wa Tori ni Naru (If I Were A Bird) by Kotaro Nakagawa. This song was used in Code Geass, a television series created by Sunrise and had its first run from October 2006 to July 2007. It won several awards.

Pianovers Meetup #50, Aisham performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Vanessa performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Gee Yong performing

Following Wen Jun’s performance, Aisham came onto the stage. He performed To Love's End by Kaoru Wada. This piece featured in "InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time". Inuyasha started as Japanese manga series but was later adapted into several other productions, including an animation television series, feature films and video animation. "InuYasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time" is one of the feature films. One interesting suspected adaptation of the original Japanese series Inuyasha was the 2011 Chinese television series, The Holy Pearl, starring Gillian Chung. This movie tells the story of how the daughter of an archaerologist travels back in time and realises she is the reincarnation of a warrior-princess.

Vanessa played All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor, and Kevin Kadish. "All About That Bass" is a song influenced by various musical genres including hip hop, country, soul and rock and roll. The music video stars stunning visuals, allowing it to become a viral online success.

Gee Yong performed "那些年" by 木村充利. This was the main theme for the 2011 Taiwanese romance film 那些年 (You Are the Apple of My Eye). 那些年 proved popular by the public and was nominated for Best Original Film Song at the 48th Golden Horse Awards.

Pianovers Meetup #50, Chris Khoo sharing with us
Pianovers Meetup #50, Zafri performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Wen Kai performing

Chris Khoo played Let There Be Peace on Earth by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller. This piece was initially written for and sung by the International Children's Choir. Both Jackson-Miller and Miller led rehearsals for the children's choir from 1955 to 1957. Till today, the song remains the theme for the ICC, which stands as a symbol for the varied nations on earth. Although this song is played throughout the year, it is particularly performed during Christmas, leading many to consider it a Christmas song.

Zafri came up next. This evening, he performed "Lit (from Koe no Katachi / A Silent Voice)" by Kensuke Ushio. Lit is a Japanese anime teen drama. Although it is based on manga, it has an important lesson to teach viewers about humility and respect for others. It recounts the story of a school bully and a young girl with a hearing disability. Although the girl is bullied by the bully, fate soon takes over and the bully finds himself the victim of isolation.

Last but not least, Wen Kai and Si Xuan came up to the stage. Wen Kai performed 小星星幻想曲 by Vanros Kloud while Si Xuan performed 十亿光年的距离 by Vanros Kloud. Wen Kai and Si Xuan both attended Pianovers Meetup for the first time in Meetup #20, held in Suntec Convention Centre in December 2016, and again in Meetup #45. We are happy to see them again!

Pianovers Meetup #50, Si Xuan performing
Pianovers Meetup #50, Group picture
Pianovers Meetup #50, Jess Rala, and Chris Khoo

Following the end of the Mini-Recital, we moved into the Open Segment. This is a segment  where Pianovers are free to mingle, interact and jam on the two pianos. As this segment is informal, some Pianovers gather around the pianos while others are playing and provide tips to the players. This is also a time during which Pianovers bond with one another. This evening, Chris Khoo and his friend Jess Rala posed for a photograph, while Karen and Siew Tin shared a good laugh and Albert looked on. We also saw Yeo Ming and Zafri flash the Victory sign with great smiles on their faces.

It is customary for Pianovers to take a group picture at the end of every Meetup session. This time was no different, however, we elected to break away from “tradition” and had a picture taken around one of the pianos!

As we wrapped up Pianovers Meetup #50, we also look forward to Pianovers Meetup #51, which is Mooncake Themed!