It was again a delightful Sunday evening, when people from all walks of life converged at The URA Centre in Maxwell Road. This was no ordinary gathering, however, as the people who were present were piano lovers who had gathered for another wonderful session of playing, sharing and networking. Indeed, the Pianovers – the name we gave to these passionate piano lovers – are people with different backgrounds, skill levels and experience but bonded by a common love for the piano and piano music. At ThePiano.SG, we believe that music transcends all boundaries!
Some Pianovers arrived fresh and early to start off this wonderful evening. We had Zafri and his friend Victoria, a newcomer who hailed from Indonesia. Victoria was in Singapore for her vacation and together with Zafri, would go on to play that evening. They were joined by Wayne and Jennice, as well as a family comprising Hiro, Winny and their daughter Erika. Erika would also play that evening. The early birds went for an early dinner, where they bonded over delicious local food and returned an hour afterwards to join the rest of the Pianovers.
The session usually starts off with Sng Yong Meng, the Founder of ThePiano.SG, giving an introduction of Pianovers Meetups and how it creates a community of piano lovers. Today, however, it was heartening to see some Pianovers already interacting with one another and reinforcing the bond that had been created over the past many sessions. Teik Lee, Albert, Chuu Yii, Anne and David shared a few light-hearted moments together, while a group of young people comprising Erika, Winny, Carina and Chuu Yii had a great discussion. It was heartening to see people interacting amongst themselves. Such is the great Pianovers spirit!
After Yong Meng gave his introductory speech, the group waited for the lights at The URA Centre to turn on and the Mini-Recital began! This is an exciting segment that everyone looks forward to, for it is here where ordinary people have a stage to perform on, before a “live” crowd!
Kicking off this evening’s Mini-Recital was Zafri, who played Unravel by Tōru "TK" Kitajima. In Meetup #48 (held on 3 September 2017), he had played Lit (from Koe no Katachi "A Silent Voice"), and dedicated it to Victoria Carolyne. He had then said, "Thank you for being a great motivation for me to continue what I do and not just give up on everything. I just hope I'm able to do the same for you as well. Good luck for the journey ahead of you and see you soon!” This evening, the person whom Zafri had dedicated the song to, Victoria from Indonesia, was here with him. It was moving to see Zafri dedicating his piece tonight to someone who had influenced him so much!
Victoria was quick to follow Zafri. She played Lit (from Koe no Katachi "A Silent Voice") by Kensuke Ushio. It was great to meet Victoria in person, after hearing about her from Zafri a while back. We hope that she enjoys her stay in Singapore, and we are sure she will, with Zafri as her host! "A Silent Voice" was a Japanese anime teen drama from 2006 and was based on manga of the same name. This anime told the tale of a school bully and a young girl with a hearing disability. The girl was bulled and ostracised, however, as fate would have it, the school bully himself found himself a victim in the end. "A Silent Voice" has important lessons and teaches youths about humility and respect for others.
Next up at the piano was Siew Tin, who specialises in Chinese classics, played 一剪梅 by 陈怡. This was the theme song for the popular China Television drama series by the same name that was aired in 1984. The song, 一剪梅 , which means “A Branch of Plum Blossom”, was sung by the famous Taiwanese singer 費玉清 (Fei Yu-Ching).
Jaeyong performed two pieces tonight, 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart) by 翁清溪 (Weng Ching-hsi), as well as 甜蜜蜜, a popular song with a catchy tune that has even seen covers by Western singers. Jaeyong, our relatively new Pianover, joined us about four months ago at Pianovers Meetup #52. New as he is, he is the first Pianover to take part in a new initiative of ours known as Pianovers Connect. Under Pianovers Connect, we provide opportunities for Pianovers to perform in events or gigs, or even conduct activities, workshops or courses, for a wider audience. The idea is to allow Pianovers an avenue in which to connect with society. ThePiano.SG has secured a 4-month project in which a pianist would play every Thursday to Sunday for three hours each, at a luxurious condominium in the CBD area. Jaeyong is the first Pianover to participate in Pianovers Connect and will be performing at the lobby of this residential development. All the best, Jaeyong! Other Pianovers who are interested to perform may contact Yong Meng.
Albert performed two pieces, "知道不知道" by 姚敏, and "庭院深深" by 刘家昌. "庭院深深" was published in 1979 and originally performed by 蔡琴. It was used in the television drama of the same name. Incidentally, this drama series was based on the 1969 novel of the same title by the writer 瓊瑤.
Yuchen played Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Friska by Franz Liszt. This song was used in one of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, named The Cat Concerto which was released in 1947 and goes further than most other cartoons where piano music is concerned. We are happy that at such a young age, Yuchen is able to play challenging pieces like this. This followed another relatively difficult piece that he played the last Meetup, "Winter Wind" by Chopin.
David played Impromptu in C minor, Op. 90, No. 1 by Franz Schubert. David is a very supportive member of ours and we are delighted that he appeared this evening in a ThePiano.SG polo shirt. David has also purchased tickets for Pianovers Meetup #64, which will be held at Ferry Point Chalet on 30 December 2017, on a Saturday instead of the usual Sunday. Interested Pianovers and readers are invited to purchase a ticket for this Meetup as capacity at the chalet is limited.
Olaf played Wein, Weib und Gesang Op. 333 by Johann Strauss II. "Wein, Weib und Gesang" means "Wine, Woman and Song" and is a Viennese Waltz by Johann Strauss II. The interesting title is based on a saying harking back to the old days, "Who loves not wine, woman and song, remains a fool his whole life long." Olaf also played We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Olaf is Jennice’s piano student and we are happy that he performed this evening. Jennice has two other students as well who would go on to play later, Tora and Yamika. We are encouraged that piano teachers like Jennice are bringing their students out of the classroom and getting them to perform and interact with others in a “live” environment. There are always lots to learn outside the classroom environment!
Teong Chuu Yii, a piano teacher, performed "Sunday Jazz" by Carina Lim. This performance is interesting, as Carina is her student and Chuu Yii was playing her student’s composition! From time to time, we see Pianovers playing not only well-known pieces but also their original compositions! We hope to see more of these going forward!
Tora came up to the piano next. Tora is also Jennice’s piano student and he performed two pieces, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, as well as "Rigaudon in C major, Z. 653" by Henry Purcell. Like JS Bach, Purcell hailed from the 17th century, however, he was born earlier about three decades earlier, in 1659. He is perceived to be one of the greatest English composers. To Purcell credit, renowned Polish pianist and composer Ignaz Friedman said in a 1940 interview that he considered Purcell as great as Bach and Beethoven.
Yamika was the next performer. She performed three pieces, Minuet in G by Christian Petzold (often mistaken to be a work by JS Bach), Ode to Joy by Beethoven, as well as Rondolla Aragonesa by E. Granados. "Ode to Joy" is widely considered to be one of Beethoven’s greatest works and is the first example of a major composer to have his piece made into a choral symphony. Although Beethoven was almost deaf, he displayed such great passion and directed this piece personally. When the audience applauded, Beethoven, who could not hear, was still conducting. He was stopped only when the contralto Caroline Unger turned him around to accept the audience’s applause.
Zhi Yuan, one of our regular Pianovers, played "Songs Without Words, Op. 62 No. 6 (Spring Song)" by Felix Mendelssohn. "Songs Without Words" comprises eight volumes, each made up of six short, lyrical "songs". Apart from Op. 62 No 6, another popular piece is "Venetian Boat Song" from Book 2. Mendelssohn is also the person credited with writing the ubiquitous "Wedding March" that we hear so often in weddings.
Erika played two pieces tonight, Nostalgy by Olivier Toussaint and Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm No. 6 by Béla Bartók. Béla Bartók's "Microcosm Sz. 107, BB 105" consists of 153 progressive piano pieces in six volumes, and players will notice that the pieces progress from very easy études to very difficult advanced technical pieces. Bartók had dedicated Volumes One and Two to his son Péter. Volumes Five and Six, on the other hand, were intended as pieces to be performed in concert. "Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm" appeared in the last six pieces of Book 6, the last book.
Teik Lee performed "All I Ask of You" by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This piece was written for the musical "Phantom of the Opera", the longest running show in Broadway history that became the first production to reach its 10,000th performance (this happened in February 2012). Andrew Lloyd Webber had composed this piece for the musical's premiere in 1986 and is credited for bringing this musical to its wide acceptance and success we see today.
Wen Jun performed Decretum (from "Madoka Magica") by Yuki Kajiura. This piece was used in the Japanese anime television series, "Madoka Magica", which features school girls who become magical girls and go on to battle surreal enemies.
Gavin played Transcendental Etude No. 3 ("Paysage") by Franz Liszt. This was part of the 12 Transcendental Études and is considered to be one of the easier studies. Liszt had done a series of compositions over his lifetime, starting with "Study in Twelve Exercises" in 1826, then "Twelve Grand Studies" in 1837, and finally "Transcendental Études" in 1852. Each revision was deliberately made harder than the previous one. The composer had originally intended to write 24 études, one in each of the 24 major and minor keys, similar to what JS Bach had done in his famous "Well-Tempered Clavier". However, he managed to complete only half of this.
Cherelle played River Flows In You by Yiruma. This is a very popular piece that is frequently played at Pianovers Meetups. With Cherelle’s performance tonight, we now have 13 performances of this song alone!
Heng Loong played Nocturne in E-flat major Op. 9 No. 2 by Chopin. The "Nocturnes, Op. 9" are a set of three nocturnes (musical compositions inspired by the night) that Chopin had written in dedication to Madame Camille Pleyel. The second piece, composed when Chopin was 20, is considered as his most well-known piece.
Nexus Lai performed Dear You (from "Higurashi no naku koro ni") by Kenji Kawai. Nexus is a friend of our regular Pianover Darren Sow, who had brought two friends today. Apart from Nexus, Darren also brought Victor Tan. Both were from Malaysia and were in Singapore for vacation. We are happy that Darren was sharing the joy of music and promoting the Pianovers community to his friends. Following Nexus’ performance, Victor played Melt by Ryo.
The final performer to come up to the stage tonight was Kaori Tanabe. She played When You Wish Upon A Star by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington, as well as Friend Like Me by Alan Menken. "When You Wish Upon A Star" was written for the 1940 animation film "Pinocchio". "Friend Like Me" is a song from the 1992 Disney animation film "Aladdin". It was performed by Robin Williams, who played the Genie in the film.
After the Mini-Recital concluded, the Meetup moved into the Open Segment. This is another time that Pianovers always look forward to, for they take this opportunity to network and jam on the pianos. Tonight, we had a special treat from Winny, who graciously baked cheese cake and shared it with everyone present! Lots of interaction was going on tonight, as could be seen by the amount of chatter and laughter present! Pianovers Meetup is not just about connecting people in the piano community, but also about strengthening the Singapore spirit. Pianovers Meetup helps build social cohesion; it promotes racial harmony as people of all races, languages and religions come together to indulge in this communal space to make music. It also certainly spreads the joy of playing the piano!
The indulgence in music was very evident tonight. Even after the lights at The URA Centre were switched off at 9pm, a group stayed back and continued to jam, not leaving till well after 10pm! Talk about the passion in Pianovers!
Pianovers Meetup #62 may have concluded, however, it is also time to look forward to Pianovers Meetup #63! See all of you this Sunday at The URA Centre!