Since ThePiano.SG was founded in 2015, it has been actively bringing together people with a deep passion for the piano. Through various activities like the weekly Pianovers Meetups, Pianovers Sailaway and Pianovers Hours, it has created a platform on which both experienced and aspiring pianists are able to perform and practise together. It was a very happy moment then, when we were contacted by The Straits Times for an interview. We made arrangements for its journalist and photographer to visit Meetup #54, which happened on 15 October 2017 at Piano Park @ URA Centre.
Some enthusiastic Pianovers met earlier for dinner and bonding at 5pm. This evening, we welcomed Hiro, his wife Winny and their daughter Erika. Erika brought a friend, Sylvia, along. In addition, we had Dominic, Isao and Theng Beng with us. Dinner was held at the Maxwell Road Food Centre, just across the road from The URA Centre.
Following a delicious dinner of local delights, the group headed back for the Piano Park, where the team from The Straits Times was already waiting for us. We were also pleased to welcome regular Pianovers Ricky (Sylvia’s father) and his Mum, Will (who introduced Dominic to Pianovers Meetup), Elyn, Desiree, David’s wife, as well as Summer, Brandon’s cousin. We were also excited to welcome newcomers Ayya, Anna, Ariane, Ellie and Shieu Ling.
As we had the team from The Straits Times with us today, the sequence of events deviated a little from the usual. The journalist, Linette, interviewed some Pianovers before the Mini-Recital started - Isao, Theng Beng, Aisham, and William.
Commenting on the opportunity to perform on the pianos, Aisham said, "You can’t get the opportunity to perform so frequently elsewhere." This evening, Aisham played Fairy Tail Main Theme, composed by Yasuharu Takanashi and used in "Fairy Tail", which is a popular Japanese manga that features Natsu Dragneel, a teenage wizard who goes around hunting for the dragon Igneel. Next, Aisham performed River Flows In You by Yiruma, who visited Singapore on 25 February 2017 for his concert. This composition was compiled in Yiruma's 2001 album "First Love".
Next to take to the stage was May Ling, who played a medley of "Tonari no Totoro", "Gake no Ue no Ponyo", "Waltz of Chihiro" and "Always With Me". All these pieces were composed by Joe Hisaishi and used in the popular Studio Ghibli anime films, "My Neighbor Totoro", "Spirited Away" and "Ponyo". Incidentally, eight of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the top 15 anime films made in Japan by sales turnover. "Spirited Away" was the second highest-grossing film and brought in USD290 million worldwide.
Siew Tin, one of our regular Pianovers, played 榕树下 by 远藤实, who wrote 5,000 songs during his lifetime. 远藤实 passed away in 2008 at the age of 76. This piece was made popular by 余天 and 邓丽君. The original Japanese title is 北国之春 and dates back to 1977. This Japanese song was first released in 1977 by the singer 千昌夫 and recounts how young people who move to the city for work or studies long for their hometowns. Siew Tin also performed 诺言 by 刘家昌.
Erika was next at the piano and played Canon in D, which is a popular piece composed by Johann Pachelbel. This piece was used in a romantic scene in the 2001 Korean movie "My Sassy Girl". In this movie, a food delivery person enters a crowded auditorium and presents the piano player, who has just performed George Winston's "Variations on Pachelbel's Canon in D", with a rose and is given a warm embrace. Canon in D was also alluded to in The Pet Shop Boys 1993 cover of "Go West" .
Following Canon in D, Erika playerd Pink Panther. "Pink Panther" was composed by Henry Mancini and was the theme song for the 1963 film "The Pink Panther". This jazz piece was composed in E minor, with the tenor saxophone solo performed by Plas Johnson. Mancini's extensive use of chromaticism for this piece was also unusual, as this was not his typical style.
After Erika’s performances, we had an intermission and took this opportunity to celebrate Isao’s birthday. It fell on Sunday, that very day of the Meetup!
Isao is a regular Pianover and joined us since Meetup #14 on 30 October 2016. He hails from Japan and was in Singapore for work for more than five years. Unfortunately, his work stint was ending and he was scheduled to return on Thursday. During his stay here in Singapore, he attended many Meetup sessions and took the time to share both his knowledge and pieces with us.
He was a frequent sharer during the weekly Meetups and many Pianovers gained valuable knowledge from his sharing. Isao’s involvement with Pianovers went beyond attending the weekly Meetups; he participated in many events and the bond he established with fellow Pianovers went far and deep. To celebrate Isao’s birthday, Elyn brought along a birthday cake, which totally surprised Isao! All of us sang Happy Birthday happily, cut the cake and socialised before we resumed the Mini-Recital.
As Mini-Recital resumed, Albert came to the piano. Known for his Chinese classics, Albert played two pieces today, "难忘的初恋情人" by 方晴 / 江明旺, and "我心深處" by 刘家昌. "难忘的初恋情人" was published in 1980 and performed by Teresa Teng. Teresa was a legend in Chinese pop. Sadly, she died of an asthma attack in 1995. She also performed many popular pieces like 甜蜜蜜、小城故事、夜来香、但愿人长久、月亮代表我的心、我只在乎你 .
Teik Lee played Reason, composed by Jung Il-Young and used as the theme song in the Korean romantic television drama "Autumn in My Heart". This TV series is regarded as a pioneer in Korean melodramatic series and is credited for starting the commonly-known Korean Wave. Following Reason, Teik Lee performed Byul (Star). This piece was featured in the 2006 Korean movie "200 Pounds Beauty". This movie was based on the Japanese manga, Kanna's Big Success, a story about an overweight ghost singer who aims to make a name for herself in singing using plastic surgery.
Isao came to the piano next. In his interview with The Straits Times earlier, he said, "Playing at home is very different from playing in front of people. Sometimes people here are still in the middle of learning, but everyone respects each other." This evening, Isao performed Hands of Time (from Brian's song) by Michel Legrand. This musical theme was a popular tune during the 1970s and has since become a standard. "Brian’s Song" had the honour of being a ABC Movie of the Week in 1971 and tells the story of Brian Piccolo, a football player who turned professional but was unfortunately stricken with terminal cancer. Michel legrand, a jazz pianist, composed the film score. He is still living today and is 85 years of age.
David was next in the performance and played Impromptu in C minor, Op. 90 No. 1, composed by Schubert in 1827. The Impromptus, meant for solo piano, were published in two sets of four impromptus each. The first set was published as Op. 90 during the composer’s lifetime, and the second set was published posthumously as Op. 142 in 1839.
Brandon was up next at the piano, but not before seeing his father William interviewed by The Straits Times as well. William commented that Brandon’s piano classes can get very dry, but at Pianovers Meetup, he gets the chance to play in front of other people. Furthermore, Meetup is a good experience for him as it helps him to build confidence while playing in front of a crowd.
Brandon performed Skip To My Lou, a popular dance that originated in the United States in the 1840s. “Lou” comes from the Scottish word “loo” which means “love”. "Skip to my Lou" is a game commonly used as an ice breaker. Couples skip hand in hand in a circle. A lone boy sings "Lost my partner, what'll I do?" as the girls whirl past him. Singing, “I'll get another one just like you”, he grabs the hand of his chosen one and the latter's dancing partner now moves to the center of the ring the game and repeats the process. Brandon also performed Coming Round The Mountain, a popular song known to children.
Chris, a regular Pianover, was up next. He performed Prelude in C by JS Bach. "Prelude in C" is from "The Well Tempered Clavier", a collection of two series of Preludes and Fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, making a total of 48 compositions. In particular, "Prelude in C" is in the first book. The first set was compiled in 1722 during Bach's appointment in Köthen; the second followed two decades later when he was in Leipzig.
Theng Beng played a medley of Ballade Pour Adeline, Coup de Coeur, Plaisir D'Amour, performed by French pianist Richard Clayderman. Originally known as Philippe Pagès, the pianist changed his name to Richard Clayderman. Ballade Pour Adeline was composed in 1976 by Paul de Senneville, as a tribute to his newborn daughter, Adeline. It remains Clayderman's signature hit till today. At age 23, Philippe Pagès participated in an audition among a group of 21 hopefuls. His soft touch on the keyboards, along with his reserved personality and good looks, impressed the judges. Theng Beng had recently learned about Coup de Coeur from the forum thread in Piano Pieces, and went further to pick up this piece.
Sylvia played Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence by Ryuichi Sakamoto. "Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence" is the soundtrack of a British-Japanese drama film of the same name. This film was released in 1983 and won a BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. It tells the story of a relationship between four men in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during World War 2 and the conflict between the British and Japanese cultures and two styles of military service (patriotic and pragmatic).
Jaeyong performed two pieces today, I Have a Dream and Love Me Tender. "I Had A Dream" was written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and performed by the Swedish pop group ABBA. This album was released in 1979. "Love Me Tender", made popular by Elvis Presley, was written by George R. Poulton as "Aura Lee" originally in 1861, which was about the American Civil War.
After Jaeyong, the next to come to the piano was Zhong En. Zhong En played Shionari, which was featured in the online novel "Clannad", released in 2004. This is the story of a high-school delinquent who helps the many people in his last year at school. "Shionari" was composed by Shinji Orito. This evening marked the debut of Zhong En's performance, although he has been attending Meetups for a while. Everyone present gave him a big round of applause as an act of encouragement.
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, we moved into the Open Segment. This is the time when Pianovers interact, exchange ideas and generally bond. While Chris and Erika jammed on "Prelude in C" on two pianos, Yong Meng had a great discussion with Ayya, Ariane and Anna. Isao and Yong Meng also posed for a photograph. Meanwhile, David and Teik Lee were engaged in a candid talk. These interactions between passionate Pianovers were exactly what we at ThePiano.SG want to achieve. Not only does Meetup bring together piano lovers, it helps to build a cohesive community and enhance the Singapore spirit.
All too soon, Pianovers Meetup #54 came to an end. While we were all sad that we had to part, we certainly brought home fond memories of the evening!