As the sun set on another Sunday at Piano Park @ URA Centre, Pianovers from all over the island gathered for the 57th weekly Pianovers Meetup. Unique talents and piano lovers of all ages and skills are always present at the Meetups, this week being no exception.
The event started with a dinner at 5pm and this evening, joining us for dinner was a family comprising Winny, her husband Hiro and their daughter, Erika, who would go on to play later. We also welcomed another family, helmed by Ricky. Ricky had his mum, as well as his children Wesley and Sylvia, with him. Newcomers this evening included Paxton and his wife Christie, together with Cherelle, as well as an individual, Vivian. Like Erika, Cherelle would play later that evening.
Following dinner, the group made its way back to The URA Centre, where it was joined by more Pianovers. We had a big group this evening, amongst them parents with children, piano teachers with their students and many others. As the families interacted with one another and exchanged stories about their piano journeys, the piano teachers took the opportunity to show their students the “live” performance environment that they would experience that evening. Indeed, at ThePiano.SG, we believe that learning goes beyond the classroom and it is definitely beneficial for students to be exposed to a real-world playing environment. By interacting with other pianists and performing in front of a “live” audience, they gain invaluable experience that they wouldn’t otherwise get in the classroom.
We were also happy to see many children at Piano Park that evening. We believe that making new friends, talking to other pianists and interacting with a lively pianist community helps sustain one’s interest and grow one’s passion in the piano. We just love how parents bring their children to our sessions. It is truly beneficial to expose children to music, especially in a group setting, at a young age, to allow them to hone their playing skills and build their confidence. Indeed, we are very happy that we have children as part of our community!
Gavin started the ball rolling in today’s Mini-Recital. He performed Theme from Cocoon by James Horner. Cocoon, a movie that saw major success in 1985, tells the story of how a group of seniors swim in a pool infested with alien cocoons and find themselves energised. Our performer, Gavin, is also a frequent contributor to our Discussion forums. In the forum, Pianovers discuss piano compositions, exchange tips and generally educate one another about the finer points of piano playing. We encourage all Pianovers and readers to participate and help create a more inclusive piano community!
David was up next and he played Prelude and Fugue, Op. 87, No. 5 in D Major by Dmitri Shostakovich. This is part of a series of 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 by Dmitri Shostakovich and written for solo piano, one in each of the major and minor keys of the chromatic scale. Apart from this set, there are also other sets that comprise all the major and minor keys, like the well-known The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as 24 Preludes, Op. 28 by Frédéric Chopin.
Our regular Pianover Siew Tin played two pieces tonight, 乡间的小路 by 叶佳修 and 我家在那里 by 刘家昌. "乡间的小路" is the signature work of composer and is such a suitable piece for learning that it has been included as part of overseas educational material for the Primary 5 level. We would like to commend Siew Tin for her relentless efforts in learning the piano. Even though she is an adult learning, she possess a great attitude. Siew Tin is always picking up a new song each week; none of the songs that she plays has been repeated. To date, Siew Tin has 53 pieces under her belt! Kudos to you, Siew Tin!
Cherelle Wong performed Always (Theme from Descendants of the Sun) by Yoon Mi Rae. Descendants of the Sun is 2016 South Korean television series popular with the masses and is known for the cast of good-looking men in military uniforms. In Singapore, local singer Kelly Poon uploaded a new Mandarin cover of the theme song "Always" and garnered positive response.
Erika went up to the piano next and delighted the audience with her rendition of Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, Pathétique, II. Adagio cantabile by Beethoven. This piece was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1798, when he was just 27. To many’s surprise, this piece was not given its name by Beethoven; it was the publisher who gave it this name. In a similar case, well-known piano piece "Moonlight Sonata" was given its name by German music critic and poet Ludwig Rellstab, five years after composer Beethoven’s death.
I-Wen, our youngest Pianover, played Jingle Bells by James Lord Pierpont. Jingle Bells was published in September 1857 under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" and performed in Boston that year. It was originally intended for the Thanksgiving season but over the years became associated with Christmas instead. Today, Jingle Bells is a popular Christmas song sung by families around the world. Following Jingle Bells, I-Wen played Happy Day by Sachiko Ruka.
Liwen came up next and played Allegro con spirito: 1st movt from Sonata in D, K. 311 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This piece was composed in 1777. Mozart was one of the most talented pianists from the Classical era, having started making music when he was just five. That year, he wrote "Andante in C, K1a". Throughout his lifetime, Mozart wrote a total of 18 sonatas for solo piano, 6 four-hand sonatas and a "Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major, K448". In particular, K448 was used in the Mozart Effect research, a study conducted in 1993 in which listeners were tested in their spatial reasoning abilities after being exposed to this piece.
Russell performed Goldberg Variations No.1, Aria by J.S. Bach. "Goldberg Variations, BWV 988" consists of an aria and a set of 30 variations, was written for the harpsichord, an instrument that preceded the piano and was used from the 15th to the 18th centuries. "Goldberg Variations" are so-named because they were believed to have been first performed by Johann Gottlieb Goldberg.
Albert, another regular Pianover who has been very supportive of our events and helps us often with the logistics, performed two pieces this evening. The first was "生命如花篮" by 梁乐音. This was followed by "秋诗篇篇" by 刘家昌, which was written after the composer got married and was touted to be his very last song. This popular piece saw many covers, including one from Taiwanese singer-songwriter 费玉清.
Next to come up to the piano was Esther Wong. Esther played Asturias (Leyenda) by Isaac Albéniz. This piano piece, originally written in G minor, features a delicate, intricate melody in the middle section and is noted for its sudden dynamic changes. The main theme suggests the rhythm of a fast flamenco form known as the bulería, and the piano imitates the guitar technique of alternating the thumb and fingers of the right hand.
Emma Lee played Sonatina in G, 1st movement by Thomas Attwood. Attwood, a favourite pupil of Mozart, composed a series of sonatinas meant for young pianoforte and harpsichord learners in 1795. These lessons, compiled in a volume known as "Young Beginners on the PianoForte or Harpsichord" are short and easy to pick up and meant as a great introduction to the sonatina form. Following "Sonatina in G", Emma also played three other pieces, The Dragon Hunt, Für Elise by Beethoven and Lullaby by Johannes Brahms.
Marcus Lee, brother of Emma Lee played two pieces this evening. The first was Asian Tiger Prowl by Rob Hall, and the second was 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart) by 翁清溪 (Weng Ching-hsi). Under the old Communist China's rules, foreign music was not allowed into the country for a long time. This changed in in the late 1970s when the country adopted an Open Door Policy. "The Moon Represents My Heart" became one of the first popular foreign songs (called "gangtai" songs) in the country under the new Open Door Policy. This song represented a stark contrast to the songs prevalent before the Open Doors Policy was instituted (the existing songs were often revolutionary songs). Teresa was honoured to have been given the opportunity to perform in China, however, she unfortunately died of an asthma attack in 1995.
We took a short break to have a group photo taken, and noted that we had a total of 49 Pianovers tonight. This was our largest figure to date, the previous record having been set during Meetup #30 with 44 Pianovers in the group picture. Thank you, everyone present, for your great support! Seeing a big group of people with different ages, nationalities and background come together through the common passion for piano was gratifying. In particular, tonight, we had with us people from Singapore, Malaysia, Portugal, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan. We strongly believe that music transcends boundaries and is something that should be enjoyed by people from different backgrounds!
Wesley was up at the piano next and he played Butterfly Waltz by Brian Crain. Crain, who was musically-inclined as a child but never received formal music education, has written many compositions, including "Butterfly Waltz”, "Northern Lights" and "A walk in the Forest", which have been used in movies and television commercials. In particular, “Butterfly Waltz”, which was used in a Korean drama, made him a popular artist around Asia, even more so than in the United States, where he came from!
Jovan played three pieces, When The Saints Go Marching, Dans la Foret Lointaine (In the Distant Forest) and Staccato Beans: No. 2 from Eight Memories in Watercolor by Tan Dun. The inspiration for the song "When The Saints Go Marching" (first recorded in 1923) was believed to have come from gospel songs "When the Saints Are Marching In" (1896) and "When the Saints March In for Crowning" (1908).
Jaeyong, another regular Pianover, played two pieces, Hymne à l’amour by Marguerite Monnot and Aline by Christophe (Daniel Bevilacqua). "Hymne à l’amour" is popular French song originally performed by Édith Piaf and dedicated to her lover Marcel Cerdan. Piaf had recorded the song in 1950 as a way to remember her lover, a famous French boxer, who had been killed the year before while on his way to New York to see her.
Teik Lee performed two pieces, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and 烟花易冷 by 周杰倫 (Jay Chou). "烟花易冷" tells the sad tale of a general and his lover in the ancient Chinese city of Luo Yang. As the story goes, the general is sent to the border on an expedition. In the ensuing chaos in Luo Yang, the city falls into ruins and disrepair. When the general subsequently returns to look for his lover, she has already passed away. The locals inform the general that there had been a lady who had waited fervently for him.
Grace Wong came up next and performed Sonata in C major movement 1 Hob: Xv 50 by Joseph Haydn. During Haydn’s lifetime, he had written a total of 52 sonatas. Hadyn was Mozart’s friend and mentor, as well as a teacher of Beethoven. After his death in 1809, his head was stolen by phrenologists. Phrenology is the study of the structure of the skull to determine a person's character and mental capacity, which is now largely discredited. The next century saw the skull changing hands multiple times and it was not until 1954 when it was finally reunited with the other remains.
Next on the list of performers was Tom Sung. Tom played It's Your Day by Yiruma. This piece was compiled in "First Love", which was released in 2001. Incidentally, this was the album which contains the famous piece by Yiruma, "River Flows In You", a very popular piece that is frequently played during Pianovers Meetup. "It’s Your Day" is a refreshing addition to the list of pieces from Yiruma we hear during the Meetups. Well done, Tom, for playing this piece. We look forward to hearing you perform more to share with Pianovers.
Grace Pang played Dancing Scales by John Burge. Grace is the sister of Sean, who is very supportive and appreciative of his sister’s piano playing. We are happy that their mum, Helen, has been bringing them to the Meetups where they can also mingle and get to know other kids.
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, the evening moved to the Open Segment. As Pianovers got together, jammed on the pianos, and had a great time connecting with new and old friends; time passed by quickly and the lights at the Piano Park were turned off at 9pm. Many Pianovers, however, continued in the dark. It was late when Meetup #57 finally ended. Thank you, everyone, again for attending and see you next Sunday!