The evening of Sunday, 12 November 2017, saw the coming together of a group of people at Piano Park @ URA Centre. This was no ordinary gathering, however, for this gathering was part of the weekly get-together of a group of piano lovers. This was the 58th instalment of the weekly Pianovers Meetups, one of the hallmark events of ThePiano.SG.
Since ThePiano.SG was founded in 2015 by Sng Yong Meng, it has actively sought to build a community of piano lovers in Singapore. Regardless of age, race, nationality and skill level, ThePiano.SG aims to build an inclusive community and bring everyone together onto a common platform. Music transcends all boundaries and is a common bond through which people from all places come together to learn and network.
As the event started at 5pm with dinner, we were joined by some early birds at the Maxwell Food Centre. Joining Yong Meng were Ron and a family comprising Benjamin Seow and Feu, as well as their daughter Xing. Ron was a newcomer to Meetup and we warmly welcome him to the family. Xing would go on to play a piece that evening. After an hour of great interaction over delicious local fare, the group trooped back to The URA Centre, where they were joined by other Pianovers who had arrived.
This evening, we welcomed newcomers Mike Yong and his family, including his four daughters. Another family that attended comprised Gerard and his wife, together with their son Jasper. We always feel that it is heartwarming that families can come together and enjoy music, which certainly helps in family bonding! This is especially so when families bring their children along and expose them to the world of music. One is never too young to start learning music! Also new to the Meetup were Peishan, Scott and Daryl.
Excitement was in the air, as we could see many interacting even before the event proper started! This evening, Pianovers present chatted and shared their musical knowledge and life experiences with one another. Winny baked special black sesame and green tea cookies to share with everyone present. Thank you, Winny, for your kind gesture!
Also gracing our event tonight was Nicholas, our photographer who had tirelessly taken photographs for Pianover Meetups for the past year. Even he is no longer doing this for us, he visited us tonight to say hello to everyone. We are happy that the bond that we have built in the group is strong and people feel part of the community! Welcome back, Nicholas!
Following a quick Introduction of Pianover Meetups, the Mini-Recital started. Gwen was the first to go up to the piano. She played two pieces, 活出爱 by 盛晓玫 (Amy Sand) and Egyptian Dance by Camille Saint-Saens. Camille Saint-Saens was a French composer, conductor and pianist from the Romantic era and he wrote many well-known compositions during his lifetime. Apart from "Egyptian Dance", he also wrote "Carnival of the Animals", a light-hearted compilation of movements for various animals like the elephant, lion, hens, roosters, tortoises, kangaroos and swan. Another of Saint-Saens' works was "Danse Macabre", which is a tone poem that plays out the Halloween scene in which "Death" appears and has the dead dance while he plays his violin. "Danse Macabre" was originally scored for an obbligato violin and performed by a full orchestra, complete with a percussion section.
Next to come on stage was Stella, who played "La Donna è Mobile" by Giuseppe Verdi. This catchy tune, whose English name is "Woman is Fickle", was written for the opera "Rigoletto". Verdi had provided the score to Raffaele Mirate, the singer, only minutes prior to the premiere. Mirate had to promise not to leak the tune as he rehearsed. True to what Verdi expected, this piece arrested everyone's attention and in the days that followed, it proved so popular that it caught on very quickly among Venice's famed gondoliers as well.
Stella also played "Aria in F, BWV Anh. II 131" by Johann Christian Bach, as well as "When The Saints Go Marching In". It is believed that "When The Saints Go Marching In" originated in the 1900s from a number of similarly-titled gospel songs. The first known recorded version of this song came about in 1923.
Siew Tin played a Chinese classic, 爱拼才会赢 by 陈百潭. This song, first published in Taiwan in 1988 and compiled in an album of the same title, exhorts listeners who are beaten and demoralised to pick themselves up and keep forging ahead. A very motivating piece, indeed!
Xing was up next and played 小幸运 by 张逸帆. This was the theme song for "我的少女時代 (Our Times)" in 2015 and was originally performed by Hebe. This song broke the world record for YouTube's Mandarin pop and achieved 100 million views in August 2016. As of Meetup #58 this evening, there had been 160 million views.
Erika played Sky, Ocean and Earth by Sugiyama Koichi. This piece was used in the role-playing video game "Dragon Quest 8", the eight instalment in the game series that was launched in 2004 and was written for the Sony PlayStation 2 platform. "Dragon Quest" has been rated as the best video game of all time, after the Final Fantasy series. Incidentally, during Meetup #48, Erika had played Kono Omoi Wo (My Wish My Thought), also from Dragon Quest.
Albert, another supportive regular member, played "千言万语" by 古月. Originally performed by the late Teresa Teng, 千言万语 was one of the pieces that accompanied the 1972 movie "彩云飞". Songwriter 左宏元 had originally wanted Teresa Teng to perform this piece, however, he met with objections from 琼瑶, who thought Teresa was too young and inexperienced. Nevertheless, 左宏元 stongly believed in Teresa’s potential. As things turned out, Teresa met his expectations and fully conveyed the meaning of the song through her singing. The album met with great success not only in Taiwan but also in most of Southeast Asia. From then, 琼瑶 requested for Teresa to perform each of her movies' songs. Following this piece, Albert also performed "友情" by 林文隆.
Jovan performed two pieces this evening, Gypsy Song (No. 6 from A Baker's Dozen) by Bryan Kelly, as well as America, the Beautiful by Samuel A. Ward. "America, the Beautiful" was first published in 1910, however, it gained popularity in the last two decades following the September 11 attacks in New York City, as it gained a patriotic following. Today, it is sung at sporting events in addition to the American national anthem.
Wesley played Moon River by Henry Mancini and popularised by Richard Clayderman. Although this piece was composed a while back, it took on popularity as it was used in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in 1961. The lyrics were written by American lyricist Johnny Mercer. Interestingly, there is a body of water in Savannah, Georgia (Mercer's hometown) that is named "Moon River". This name was given in honour of Mercer and his song.
Grace was up at the piano next and she performed two pieces. They were Prelude, Op. 28, No. 23 and Prelude, Op. 28, No. 24 by Chopin. The famous Polish composer composed his 24 Preludes, Op. 28, beween 1835 and 1839. He had modelled his Preludes compilation after JS Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier and covered all the 24 major and minor keys. "Prelude, Op. 28, No. 24" is also known as "The Storm". This classical piece was used in a Tom and Jerry cartoon series, specifically in Cat Concerto. The 7 second mark of the opening credits featured this piece and it was extracted from the longer piece at the 1 minute 32 second mark.
Chong Kee played Moment Musicaux in E minor, Op. 16, No. 4 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. This piece is known as "Six Musical Moments" in English and is a set of solo piano pieces written between October and December, 1896. This musical composition has an interesting history. Rachmaninoff, then only 23, was not in a good financial situation, made worse by a prior robbery during a train ride. In order to raise money quickly and to satisfy an audience looking to enjoy a great musical evening, Rachmaninoff quickly put his mind to work. His hard work, paid off, however, as he managed to complete six well-received piano pieces. "Moment Musicaux in E minor" resembles Chopin's étude as it also features left-hand playing throughout the piece. This piece also happens to have the fastest tempo and the shortest play time in the entire set.
Gavin was next on stage and he played three pieces in all, namely, all by Nino Rota, Speak Softly, Love (from Godfather 1), The Immigrant Theme (from Godfather 2) and A Time For Us. "The Godfather" was a 1973 film about crime. It became so influential in the American movie circle that in 1990, the Library of Congress designated this as one of the films to be preserved in the US National Film Registry. To the film producer's honour, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". "A Time for Us" came from the 1968 movie "Romeo and Juliet" and had the original title "What Is a Youth".
Teik Lee played two pieces this evening, Firasat by Marcell and Dewi Lestari, as well as Amazing Love by Lee Sung Kyung. "Firasat" is a song from a Singapore drama that tells the story of a CID officer Firman Salihin. Salihin initially feels distraught as he suffers from guilt from not being able to save the 23 passengers that had perished from a bus accident which he himself had survived in. However, he manages to redeem himself after he realises that he is able to help victims of disasters before they happen, thanks to drawings that his brother draws using his special skill.
Teik Lee's other piece "Amazing Love" was used in the 2004 Korean movie "Full House". Interestingly, the house was a set specially built for the drama and cost approximately US$1 million to build. It remained a tourist attraction till 2013, when it was damaged by a typhoon and subsequently torn down.
May Ling played 新不了情 by 鲍比达, which was the theme song for the 1993 Hong Kong movie of the same title, starring Anita Yuen and Sean Lau. The movie, which had the French title, "C'est la vie, mon chéri", tells the sad tale of Kit and Min who meet in Hong Kong's poor housing district. Love blossoms between them as Min helps to lift the dejected musician Kit. Unfortunately, their short-lived romance ends sadly when Min dies of cancer.
Last but not least, Jaeyong played My Way by Claude François, Jacques Revaux. This piece was originally published in 1967 and had the original name "Comme d'habitude" (As usual). "My Way" was popularised by Frank Sinatra. There are two interpretations. The French song is about routine in a failing relationship. The English version, by comparison, describes how one looks back at one's life without regret.
Open Segment came up right after the Mini-Recital. During this segment, all Pianovers present took the opportunity to jam on the two pianos and interact with one another. There were lots of sharing and networking, as people helped themselves to drinks and posed for pictures. Tonight, we took our group photograph in a different fashion from the usual style as we wrapped up another interesting evening.
As the lights at The URA Centre were switched off, Meetup #58 concluded but as always, Pianovers now all look forward to the following Sunday's session. See all of you at Meetup #59!