The Pianovers Meetup held on Sunday, 4 February 2018, was like none other. It was one which marked another milestone in ThePiano.SG’s history. This evening’s Meetup was conducted at Tanjong Pagar Centre, a new commercial and residential complex located above Tanjong Pagar MRT. It comprises not just an office tower, Guoco Tower, but also a luxury residence known as Wallich Residence, as well as Sofitel Singapore City Centre hotel. Completing the complex are Tanjong Pagar Park and several premium F&B and retail outlets.
What made the event special was that ThePiano.SG had been invited to unveil two pianos placed at Tanjong Pagar Park, a large, sheltered space in front of Tanjong Pagar Centre. The two pianos were from Play It Forward Singapore, a community arts movement that saw used pianos in good condition donated by kind owners, refurbished under the skillful hands of artists and designers, and placed in public places for the benefit of the public. "Play It Forward Singapore" made its debut in September 2015, when two pianos were placed at Aliwal Street. Today, "Play It Forward Singapore" was into Season 7, from where the two pianos placed at Tanjong Pagar centre originated.
The first piano was nicknamed “Mellow” and was donated by Chen Xinran and designed by Chu Hwai. In the words of Chu Hwai, “Listen not only to the music, but see within this piano the instrument that creates the melody. Love not only the appearance, but reach beyond to find that inner beauty to fall in love with.”
The second piano was nicknamed “Tōru”, and was donated by Chia Chin Yin and designed by Billy Soh. Tōru was inspired by the wonderful elements of nature, like forests, streams, mountains and water, and everything else that is beautiful. These was the idea of delicate beauty as defined by the Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu, whose works were perfectly embodied in cyanotype photography, a process in which images are exposed on paper, which are then washed away to reveal bluish hues. To lend his support to the unveiling of the pianos this evening, one of the co-founders of the Play It Forward Singapore movement, Lee Yan Chang, was present this evening to witness the event.
As the Meetup was conducted in an open space outside the eateries at Tanjong Pagar Centre, we were in full visibility of diners as well as passers-by. This gave us an excellent opportunity to promote the idea of the Pianovers community. Throughout the evening, as the programme went on, passers-by stopped to listen to the music. Some even sat in to join us. It was such a wonderful evening, being located in the heart of the city centre and promoting our love of piano music!
To mark the special occasion, Tanjong Pagar Centre kindly sponsored 50 vouchers, worth $10 each and good for spending at the participating retail outlets, to the first 50 Pianovers attending the Meetup! The early birds that evening certainly received a treat!
Soon, it was time to start the most important segment of the evening, the Mini-Recital. Gwen was the first to go up to the stage, where she played Expectation Waltz by Herold Lavrentievich Kittler and Grand March by Verdi. The second piece that was played, Grand March, was from the opera "Aida". Among the other pieces by the same composer were "La donna è mobile" (Woman are Fickle) from 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.
Lenice Tan went up to the piano next and she played Laputa by Joe Hisaishi. This piece was used in the film of the same title. This film, from Studio Ghibli, recounts the mystical adventure of a young boy and girl in search of a floating castle. While looking for the elusive castle, they must also prevent a magic crystal from landing in the wrong hands. Lenice came with her dad, who had been invited to Pianovers Meetup by Ricky at the previous weeks Pianovers Meetup. This week, he came with his daughter Lenice on their own, as well as with Lenice’s mum. To make the visit more memorable, it was Lenice’s first performance at the Meetup!
Siew Tin, our regular Pianover known for her Chinese classics, played two pieces tonight. The first was 康定情歌, and this was quickly followed by 在那遥远的地方 by 王洛宾. "在那遥远的地方" was written in 1939 and was inspired by an encounter he had with a village girl. 王洛宾 was then filming the movie "民族万岁" at a local village and he had to choose a girl to participate in the filming. 萨耶卓玛 became the lucky one and she left a deep impression on 王洛宾. As he returned from the village, he composed this song.
Jovan was up at the piano next and he played Skater's Waltz by Émile Waldteufel. This piece was composed in 1882 and has been used in movies and games. A small part of it is even played in the TV series "Daredevil". This piece is also featured in Nintendo’s 2005 video game, "Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix". In this game, it has been remixed and it is played when Mario escapes an avalanche. "Skater's Waltz" was inspired by the "Cercle des Patineurs" or 'Rink of Skaters' at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. The song conjures images of a skater’s poise and the dreamy scenes of winter. Following "Skater’s Waltz", Jovan played Country Dance by Beethoven.
Zhi Yuan performed Sonata Op. 26 No. 12 in A flat major (Funeral March), Movt. 1 by Beethoven. This song was played during Beethoven's own funeral procession in 1827. There was a scandal related to Beethoven. Mamoru Samuragochi, a Japanese composer, falsely claimed that he was totally deaf, and that by 35, he had completely lost his hearing. Because of his condition, the media nicknamed him “Digital-age Beethoven”. However, this false front was blown in 2014 when it was revealed that most of the works attributed to him had in fact been written by Takashi Niigaki. Niigaki could not bear seeing figure skater, Daisuke Takahashi, skating with a piece that had come from Samuragochi at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and exposed the deed.
Yew Siang played three pieces, Prelude, Op. 28, No. 1 by Chopin, My Bliss and Claudia. It was great that he came this evening with his sister, Sabrina, and her boyfriend Phil to lend support to his debut performance at the Meetup. Yew Siang played two self-compositions, one of which was named after his girlfriend, Claudia. We at ThePiano.SG always welcome Pianovers to create their own compositions and play them during Meetups! Well done, Yew Siang!
Albert, another supportive Pianover, played two pieces tonight, "花咲く旅路" by 桑田佳佑 (Keisuke Kuwata), and "你怎么说" by 司马亮. "你怎么说" was originally performed by Teresa Teng in 1980. In 2013, during the 摩天伦演唱会 concert, Jay Chou performed a “duet” with Teresa, who had passed away in 1995. This was achieved by digitally projecting her images onto a big screen. The songs performed included not only "你怎么说" but also "千里之外" (2006) and "紅塵客棧" (2012). The next song played at the Mini-Recital was also one made popular by Jay Chou. This was "听见下雨的声音" by Yingyu, her debut performance with us.
Theng Beng played two pieces, "We Are The World" by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, as well as "Heal The World" by Michael Jackson. "We Are The World" was used in a charity event in 1984. This event was a large-scale event that brought together the most famous artists in the music industry in a bid to raise money for humanitarian aid in Africa and the US. The next song, "Heal The World", was from Michael Jackson’s album "Dangerous" (1992). Michael Jackson also created the Heal the World Foundation, a charitable organization aimed at improving children’s lives. Another aim of this charity was to teach children how to help others.
Chris Khoo played three pieces of Asian origin, "Rasa Sayang", "Burong Kakak Tua", "Chan Mali Chan". "Rasa Sayang" and "Burong Kakak Tua" (which means Cuckatoo), are popular traditional Indonesian songs. "Chan Mali Chan", on the other hand, is not only a traditional Malaysian song, but is also among the list of Singaporean patriotic songs. Due to the familiar and catchy tune, the audience was gamely following Chris’ performance. This was especially evident during "Chan Mali Chan", when Pianovers clapped with gusto and followed up with the familiar “Oi Oi!” It was great to see the audience fully participating in a Meetup performance!
After Chris’ performance, Gavin performed Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16, Movt. 1 by Edvard Grieg. This was one of Grieg’s most popular works and also ranks among the most popular piano concerti – solo compositions belonging to the Classical music genre that are technically challenging, composed for piano players and typically involved an orchestra - of all time. Incidentally, "Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16, Movt. 1" was the only concerto that Grieg completed.
The next two performers, David and Jin Ci, played compositions from Johann Sebastian Bach. David played Air on the G String while Jin Ci performed Prelude & Fugue in D major, BWV 850. Bach was a famous German composer hailing from the Baroque era. He was born on 31 March 1685 and every year, events are held that celebrate his birthday. Bach’s 333th birthday celebration will take place between 21st to 25th March 2018 and will tie in with the global Bach In The Subways movement. Past participations from Singapore are archived. At ThePiano.SG, we will be celebrating Bach’s 333th birthday too. On 25 March 2018, we will have a Bach-themed Pianovers Meetup. Our Meetup will reserve the Mini-Recital period of 7pm-8pm for the performance of Bach’s compositions. Participants must register an account and the composition to be played, and will have their names on the movement’s website.
Next, May Ling came up tot he stage and performed Someday by Alan Menken. Someday is a song from Disney's 1996 animated feature film "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". It was recorded by all–male R&B group All-4-One. The film is based on the French novel of the same name. This film is about Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame, and his attempts to be accepted by society. Several changes were made from the original source material, however, the film is still considered as a dark film, due to the negative themes. Nevertheless, it was a box office success. May Ling also performed Somewhere by Leonard Bernstein.
Debashis performed Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. This song climbed the Billboard Hot 100 and ranked high on industry charts throughout 1991 and 1992. Apart from performing for us, Debashis brought along a GoPro camera and placed it on the piano Tōru for today's Meetup. Some footages were captured on the camera and we have reproduced it in May Ling’s video. Debashis shared with us how to record footages from various angles so we can improve as we watch our performances!
Next up at the piano was Janelene. Janelene played Even Now by Barry Manilow. This piece was from the 1978 album of the same title, which also included another song, "Can’t Smile Without You". "Even Now" reached #19 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1978.
Melody Yao performed Kiki's Delivery Service by Joe Hisaishi. This piece was used in a film of the same title by Studio Ghibi. This song tells the story of a young witch who uses her flying ability to earn a living. At ThePiano.SG, we were excited to welcome Melody to our family of piano lovers. We were also elated that tonight was her first performance and that she had many friends supporting her at Pianovers Meetup!
Grace Wong played "Étude, Op. 10, No. 9 (Black Keys)" by Chopin. This song features rapid playing of the black keys by the right hand. Interestingly, this piece is known as the "Black Key Étude" as its right-hand part is entirely on black keys, except for one note. In 2017, Artur Cimirro recorded the first complete arrangement in double notes, which was first published in 1922. This song was also given a modern treatment in Jay Chou’s 2007 "The Secret" movie. This song was part of the Piano Battle scene, which saw the pianist play the Black Keys first, followed by a transposed all-white-keys version.
A group photograph was taken, and it was such a coincidence that some Pianovers had arrived in a sea of red. We concluded that they had donned this colour to attract luck and prosperity, in line with the 立春 event! Even after the Meetup had concluded, some Pianovers stayed back to jam and have fun on the two pianos.
Please note that Pianovers Meetup #69, happening on 11 February 2018, will be Chinese New Year-themed. All Pianovers are encouraged to play pieces related to the festival! Due to the Chinese New Year holiday, there will be no Meetup on 18 and 25 February 2018. See you at Meetup #69!