Satuday, 30 December 2017 will be remembered as a special day for Pianovers. To most people, this day might have been known as the second last day of 2017, however, for the members of the piano community, it was the day of a special Meetup session. In a departure from the usual Sunday meeting held at Piano Park @ URA Centre, Pianovers Meetup #64 was held not only on a Saturday but also at a special venue.
ThePiano.SG had chosen Fairy Point Chalet 5 in Changi for this week’s Meetup. Belonging to the Aloha Changi group of chalets, Fairy Point Chalet 5 is really a place like none other. It sports a beautiful colonial architecture, housing a vast interior and located within peaceful, picturesque surroundings. The lush greenery around this property lent a rustic feel, adding to the overall experience! This was a refreshing change from the urbanised surroundings where the URA Centre is located.
Like the usual Meetups, this evening’s session started at 5pm sharp. A halal buffet dinner was provided, and what a spread it was! As the early birds tucked in to a sumptuous dinner, they wasted no time in interacting with one another. As always, good food is a great conversation starter which eventually leads to other topics! Naturally, piano and music are two things that people talk about!
Winny, our resident baking enthusiast who has been kindly bringing tarts and cakes to our Meetups, baked a special piano-themed cake and tarts for today’s Meetup. Hon Sun, too, brought a cake from Cedele, adding to the party atmosphere of this special session. Anne, for her part, contributed bottles of champagne. Thank you, Winny, Hon Sun and Anne, for your contributions!
Even children were excited about today’s gathering. We saw how elated Brandon was when he entered the chalet. There was no reason not to, given the group of fun people he was with! To add to the fun, playing cards appeared and a group had already gotten themselves busy with card games. And what would a Pianovers Meetup be without a piano? A Casio digital piano was placed right in the heart of the chalet. One could easily see how enthusiastic Pianovers were about piano music when one noticed some had already started playing the piano while the rest were having dinner.
As more people arrived, the group started the Meetup proper. Pianovers Gee Yong and David shared about how Pianovers Meetups have built a very close-knit community of piano lovers over the past year and a half. Indeed, Pianovers Meetups have fostered priceless friendships and allowed members to make friends with like-minded people. When one is with a group of very passionate piano lovers, one does feel a sense of belonging to this community! And it is by being part of this community that makes learning the piano a lot more fun!
With the sharing over, the night moved into the next segment, the Mini-Recital! First to go up to the digital Casio was Wayne, who played La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin by Debussy. This piece came from Debussy’s first book of Préludes that was written during the early 20th century. The eight piece in the series, the French name translates to "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair”. This composition was inspired by a poem with the same name and written by Leconte de Lisle, a French poet. A special thank you goes out to Wayne, who had hosted a dinner at his place the day before. That Friday evening’s dinner was well-attended and saw eight Pianovers. They were Janice, Zafri, Jane, Grace, Wee Keng, Elyn and Yong Meng, in addition to Wayne, the host himself.
Gavin went up to the piano next and he performed Frühlingsrauschen, Op. 32, No. 3 (Rustle of Spring) by Christian Sinding. This composition was Sinding’s most popular piece of music and was published just before the turn of the century in 1896. Although this composition has been around for more than a century, because of its ability to impress and its popularity, it has a special place in many pianists’ repertoires. Also, owing to many rapid arpeggios that is played with the right hand, besides some technically challenging sections, this piece is easier to play than it sounds.
Next up at the piano were Gavin and Emmy. This duo played The Celebrated Chop Waltz by Euphemia Allen (Arthur de Lulli). This is a simple and popular waltz written for the piano and is also known by the more catchy name “Chopsticks”. Like "Rustle of Spring", this piece was also written in the 19th century, but earlier, in 1877. Surprisingly, the composer, Allen, was only 16 when she wrote this piece! There is a reason that this piece is named “Chop Waltz”. It turns out that this piece was mandated to be played in two-part harmony with special arrangements. Both hands have to be held in a vertical orientation while striking the keys. At the same time, the palms must face each other and the little fingers have to chop the keys.
Siew Tin, who has made it a point to play a different song each week, did just that tonight. The first was 花 (Hana) - すべての人の心に花を by Shoukichi Kina (喜納昌吉). Originally performed by Kina Shokichi in 1979, this Okinawan song tells a story of peace, love and sorrow. Okinawa was one of the focal points of war when World War II hit the region and tens of thousands perished in the conflict. Hana was written to promote peace and love amid the sorrow of war. A Mandarin cover version appeared in 1993. It was sung by 周华健 and titled 花心. This singer performed it in a more upbeat fashion and the song carries a new meaning, this time about troubled romance. Unsurprisingly, due to its lively tune, this modern Mandarin version is the most popular version of the song today!
Zhi Yuan went up to the piano next and played Snow White Medley. This was a multi-track medley comprising the following pieces, "With a Smile and a Song", "I’m Wishing", "One Song", "Whistle While You Work", "The Dwarf’s Yodel Song (The Silly Song)", "Heigh-Ho", "Someday My Prince Will Come by Frank Churchill" and "Mickey Mouse March by Jimmie Dodd". Although Snow White is a popular character among children today, she first appeared in a German fairy tale in 1812, having been created by The Brothers Grimm. This story, part of the collection known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, underwent several revisions, before the final one appeared in 1854. The Snow White that children today know about was created by Walt Disney in 1937, and is based on The Brothers Grimm’s story.
Teik Lee played Souvenir D’enfance, as well as another piece called Somewhere in Time by John Barry. "Somewhere in Time" appeared in a science-fiction movie that carried the same name. This movie, released in 1980, starred Christopher Reeve of Superman fame. Unfortunately, Reeve was thrown from a horse in 1995. Thereafter, he was confined to a wheelchair and required a portable ventilator. He passed away in 2004.
Erika was up next and she played Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430, Air and variations (The Harmonious Blacksmith) by Handel. This is a series made up of four movements. The particular piece that Erika played is the 4th movement, Air and variations (The Harmonious Blacksmith). This movement is made up of a Theme and five variations. The origins of the name "Harmonious Blacksmith" is a mystery. Till today, no one knows who gave this movement its name.
Albert played "みちづれ (Michizure)" by 遠藤実, followed by 望春風 by 邓雨贤. 望春風 was first performed by 純純 (劉清香) in 1933. Then, in 2000, during two popular competitions, “歌謠百年台灣” (“Taiwanese Songs Over The Years”) and “百年十大金曲” (“The 10 Greatest Taiwanese Songs”), it was awarded “Most Popular Taiwanese Song”.
Jia Hui, a Pianover and music teacher, played 担心 by 梁文福. This song was originally performed by popular Singapore singer 陈洁仪 (Kit Chan). The songwriter 梁文福 is a household name in Singapore, having contributed much efforts to the 新謠 (Xinyao) scene. It is said that 新謠 (Xinyao) is representative of the Chinese culture in Singapore. One of 梁文福’s famous pieces is 细水长流, released in 1987.
Melody, who hails from Hong Kong, is a friend of Pianover David. She played Preludes, Book 2, No. 12, Feux d'artifice by Debussy. This was a set of 24 Preludes meant for solo piano, divided into two books of 12 preludes each. Melody played No. 12 (the last piece) in Book 2. The titles of the preludes are regarded as significant, due to the way that they described the pieces in question, as well as their placements in the musical scores. While usual compositions show the titles before the notes, Debussy’s Preludes are the opposite. Placing the titles after the music removes undue influence performers might experience and allows them to play with just the notes.
David performed Italian concerto BWV 971, 1st movt, Allegro by JS Bach. BWV 971 consists of three movements. David played the first tonight. Bach had an interesting history. He was orphaned at a young age, having lost both his parents when he was just 10 years old. When he became an adult, he fathered seven children with his first wife and 13 with his second (Anna Magdalena). That made him a father of 20 children!
Next to perform in the Mini-Recital was Jennice. Jennice played a Mandarin song "挥着翅膀的女孩" by 陈光荣. This song was originally published in 2003 and performed by 容祖儿 (Joey Yung). This song was the most popular of all songs that Joey has performed. Although she performed several new songs after this, they could not beat the record achieved by 挥着翅膀的女孩. Joey became famous because of this song. Owing to its popularity, this song has also become one of the more popular songs sung in karoke sessions!
I-Wen, daughter of Pianover Jenny Soh, played two pieces tonight. She performed Good Morning, followed by May Song. I-Wen is our youngest Pianover in our community, being only four years old. However, she has already performed 19 times since she came on board! We are all happy for her that she started playing at a young age. We hope she will continue her musical journey and discover her passion in time to come.
Brandon, a young Pianover, played Old MacDonald Had A Farm and Long Long Ago. "Long Long Ago" was written by Thomas Haynes Bayly in 1833. This song had the original title of "The Long Ago", however, upon its release after Bayly’s death, the editor of Philadelphia magazine, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, renamed it. Nevertheless, this song gained much popularity and became one of the most popular songs in 1844 United States. This song was updated in 1942 as the United States got involved in World War Two, and took on the new name "Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)". It was recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra and spent 13 weeks on the Billboard charts.
Yuchen played 夜之向日葵 (Yoru no Himawari) by Fuminori Matsumoto (szak). This was a song from Subarashiki Hibi ("Wonderful Everyday"), a visual novel of the interactive game genre. Subarashiki Hibi is a Japanese story comprising seven chapters, with each chapter told as a narrative by its five main characters, all high school students. While each chapter is different, the essence of the story was concerned with the end of the world.
Following 夜之向日葵, Yuchen played Pour Le Piano, L.95, Toccata by Debussy. "Pour Le Piano" means “For the Piano” and this piece is a suite written for solo piano. It has three parts: Prélude, Sarabande, and Toccata. The final segment, the Toccata, was dedicated to Nicolas Coronio, Debussy’s student.
Darren played A Tender Feeling (Lisbeth’s Theme) by Kajiura Yuki. This song was featured in the Japanese light novel series "Sword Art Online". This is story set in the near future and focuses on virtual reality worlds. Interestingly, this novel is so popular that it has created spillovers, including manga adaptations, anime television series and video games. There are plans to product a live-action television series based on this novel.
Last but not least, Julia came up to the piano. She performed White Christmas by Irving Berlin. White Christmas is a song that brings back memories about old-fashioned Christmas. While there are many versions of this song, the best-selling one is the version performed by Bing Crosby. It is estimated that more than 100,000 copies of this song have been sold globally.
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, the customary group picture was taken. Then, it was time to pop the champagne! Gee Yong did the honour and soon cheers were all around us! Amid the casual environment, we had so much fun tonight and Pianovers were making merry. Of course, Pianovers could not resist having more fun with music and proceeded to jam on the piano, making music as they did! Then, it was time for Round Two of the buffet.
As Pianovers ate, jammed and chit-chatted, lots of socialisation and interaction were going on. It was a happy occasion and it was gratifying seeing Pianovers bond over a casual Meetup. Indeed, Pianovers Meetup is a platform where like-minded people bond and network. It is also part of the vision of ThePiano.SG, which is to build a closely-knit community of piano lovers!
This very fun gathering, with food, music, sharing and lots of interaction, was the perfect way to end the year on a high note (pun intended)! We will no doubt celebrate in style again in December 2018. However, for now, let us wish our Pianovers and readers Happy New Year 2018!