Sunday evenings are always a time that piano lovers look forward to. Pianovers – as these passionate lovers of wonderful piano music are known as – converge on Piano Park @ URA Centre for a weekly gathering. Brought together by ThePiano.SG, this group of Pianovers comes from all works of life, regardless of experience and skill level, but share a common love for music. Pianovers Meetup has been running since July 2016 and week after week, and Pianovers have been meeting to network, play music and enjoy music.
Every Sunday, the event starts at 5pm with a dinner at Maxwell Food Centre. This evening, joining Sng Yong Meng, Founder of ThePiano.SG, for an evening meal were Ying Yu, Alex and Yew Siang, all of whom were first-timers at the event, as well as May Ling, a regular Pianover. Bonding is always easier over food so this was the perfect opportunity to get to know one another better! Following dinner, the group trotted back to Piano Park, where the rest of the Pianovers were waiting.
Pianovers who attend the weekly Meetups certainly do not wait passively for things to happen. They are such a tightly-knit group that they start to interact even before the formal programme begins! Each week, the passionate piano lovers chat, network and even jam on the two pianos at the Piano Park. First-time attendees are always amazed to see such a beautiful scene of open sharing and feel a sense of friendship. Regular Pianovers sharing tips with newer members; parents guiding their children in playing the piano; teachers sharing with their students the finer tips of piano-playing – These are but some of the things that happen on a weekly basis at Pianovers Meetups. It is always so heartwarming to witness all these happening on a balmy Sunday evening. This evening was certainly no different! The closeness and togetherness materialised in more ways then one, as Pianovers chatted and exchanged ideas.
Very soon, Yong Meng went up to the stage and made two important announcements. Pianovers Sailaway is returning! Yes, ThePiano.SG’s inaugural event on the high seas, so fondly loved by Pianovers, is happening again. Just like the 2016 event, some 40 people will get to enjoy an evening out in the southern sea on a private yacht as they are serenaded by pianists. A delicious buffet dinner is in store for all and there will be beautiful fireworks to end on a high note! Watch out for Pianovers Sailaway 2018!
There is more good news in store for Pianovers! ThePiano.SG’s Online Store is now open! True to the spirit of ThePiano.SG, all the items on sale are naturally related to the piano! Stationery, ladies’ accessories – you name it, we have it! To sweeten the deal, Pianovers Rewards members get 10% off the sale prices!
After the announcements had been done, it was time for the Mini-Recital. This is the highlight of the evening, where Pianovers go up to one of the pianos and perform “live” for those present. To assure themselves of slots, Pianovers pre-register with Yong Meng before the weekend session.
This evening, Gwen started the ball rolling with her rendition of La Spagnola by Vincenzo Di Chiara. This composition, written in 1906, was written for voice. Interestingly, Chiara became famous after he released his song "La Spagnola", which means “The Spanish Woman”. This song was performed by Rosa Ponselle and became a global favourite!
Erika went up to the piano next and played Sunny Rain by Yiruma. This song came from the album "Love Scene", which was released in 2001. Korean performer Yiruma (born under the name Lee Ru Ma) is an established pianist. The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario, Canada has placed his pieces around Grade 7 in the areas of movement and reach.
Following Erika’s performance, Siew Tin played Beautiful Sunday, written by Rod McQueen and Daniel Boone. Siew Tin normally plays Chinese classics but surprised us this evening with an English song! We are happy that she is expanding her horizons.
David performed Italian concerto BWV 971, 1st movt, Allegro by J.S. 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!
Gavin played two pieces this evening, Over the Hills and Far Away, as well as Irish Tune from County Derry. Both pieces were by Percy Grainger. The former piece was written while Grainger was serving in the US Coast Guard Artillery Band (oboist). He had originally meant for the piece to be a piano solo but later arranged it for the piano and military band. Grainger believed that the lower octaves of the larger reed instruments allowed him to express his thoughts best, hence the inspiration for the piece.
Jayden played three pieces tonight. The first was The Prince of Denmark’s March by Jeremiah Clarke. This was followed by L'éléphant (The Elephant) by Camille Saint-Saëns and then Romanze by Mozart. The second piece, L'éléphant , came from a compilation known as "Carnival of the Animals". This was 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.
Emma played two pieces, The Milky Way and The British Grenadiers. Both pieces were from the same pair of composers, Nancy and Randall Faber. Incidentally, Emma came tonight with her twin brother, Marcus.
Emma and Marcus, who have been attending since Meetup #57 (November 2017), are rare siblings who play duets during the Pianovers Meetups. It is even rarer for twins to be doing that! To spice up the evening, the pair agreed to let Emma play first, then they would play together, then Marcus would play later. Emma and Marcus played Huron Carol by Jean de Brébeuf, followed by In An Old Castle by Nancy and Randall Faber.
When it was Marcus’ time to play the piano, he played La Donna è Mobile by Verdi. This composition appeared in the opera "Rigoletto". To date, Verdi is still regarded as the greatest composer of Italy. Verdi died at the age of 87 and his funeral procession attracted 300,000 people. This illustrates the amount of respect that the people of Italy held for Verdi. That procession through the streets of Milan holds the record of being the largest public assembly of any event in Italy, even up to today. Following La Donna è Mobile, Marcus played Bouncing Billy by Joan Last.
The next piece was performed by Janice, who treated Pianovers with her rendition of Theme of Exodus by Ernest Gold. This piece was from the 1960 movie "Exodus". Not only did this movie theme song win the Academy Award for Best Original Score at the 1960 Oscars, it also helped Ernest Gold to win the Best Soundtrack Album and Song of the Year at the 1961 Grammy Awards. Till today, it is the only instrumental song to ever receive that award!
Albert, our regular Pianover known for his Chinese classics, played "杏花渓之恋" by 姚敏. This song was used for the 1956 Hong Kong movie "杏花溪之恋". Albert is our dear member who, together with Siew Tin, never hesitates to help out every Sunday. We are fortunate to have great members in our community who do not hesitate to help behind the scenes! Thank you, so much, Albert and Siew Tin!
Jun Theng played Pretty Bouquet and The Hen and Her Chicks. "The Hen and The Chicks" was last performed in Meetup #49. During that session, this piece was played by Jun Theng’s cousin, Cheng Leng. Jun Theng has now decided to pick up this piece and play it for all Pianovers' enjoyment!
In another fine example of family togetherness, Jun Theng’s brother, Heok Hwa, went up to the piano! He played Tambourin (French Melody). We find it heartwarming that family members (even cousins!) are learning to play the piano together. Apart from motivating one other and supporting one other along their musical learning journeys, they also help to spread the love of music! Well done, Jun Theng and Heok Hwa! Not only do we love your family bond, we are also happy that you have improved in your music-playing!
Following the performances by the siblings, their mum, Jinny, also went up to the piano! Jinny played The Merry Widow Waltz by Franz Lehár. "The Merry Widow" is an example of what is known as an operetta. It is similar to an opera but is characterised by its casual plot, light-hearted singing, and the absence of dancing. The composer, Franz Lehár, is mainly known for his operettas. Among his many compositions, "The Merry Widow" is the most popular one. Lehár was so popular that a street in Vienna, in addition to several towns in the Netherlands, are named after him!
This evening, Chris performed Bengawan Solo by Gesang Martohartono. This was a popular 1940 Indonesian song that described an important river, known as Solo River, that existed in central and eastern Java. This song gained popularity among the Japanese who occupied the Indonesia during World War II. Upon the soldiers’ return to Japan following the end of the war, this song was introduced to their countrymen. In 1991, a group of appreciative Japanese war veterans erected a statue of Martohartono in a park in Surakarta. Gesang, the composer of the song, died at the age of 92 in May 2010.
May Ling played Air on the G String by JS Bach. This piece was arranged by violinist August Wilhelmj and originated from the second movement in Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068.
Teik Lee, another of our regular Pianovers, played two pieces tonight. The first was Il Postino (Titoli) by Luis Enríquez Bacalov. This was the soundtrack for the 1994 Italian movie "Il Postino: The Postman". It was so popular that it won both the Academy Award for Best Music (Original Dramatic Score), as well as BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. The second piece that Teik Lee played tonight was My Favourite Things by Richard Rodgers.
Brandon, one of our youngest members, played If You're Happy and You Know It. This is a popular children’s song from the United States. Although Brandon is young, he was most comfortable facing a crowd of adults. Pianovers who were present instantly felt a rapport with him and did not hesitate to lend him their support. The only reminder that he was, after all, a boy, came when he clutched his Pikachu soft toy at the end of the performance. That aside, we could all instantly identify with Brandon! Check out how he engaged the audience, and displayed amazing showmanship!
It was time to move to the Open Segment. This evening saw lots of activities among Pianovers! Conversations were flowing freely and tips were being exchanged all around the Piano Park. Even our little Brandon, who had played the last piece during the Mini-Recital, did not feel shy mingling with the crowd! We took a picture of May Ling who was holding her treble-clef hair clip happily. She had earlier purchased it from our Online Store, and had opted for self collection during the Pianovers Meetup. Thank you, May Ling, for your support!
As the night went on and the clock struck 9pm, some prepared to leave, but there was a group who decided to stay on to mingle and chat. It is always sad to part with people who have grown so close to us! Nevertheless, let us all look forward to Meetup #67!