ThePiano.SG started its journey in 2015, with the aim of bringing people with a love for the piano and piano music together. It believes that regardless of their varied skill levels and experiences, everybody has something to share and everybody deserves a platform on which to perform.
One of its flagship events is the Pianovers Meetup, a weekly event held over the weekend, during which people come together and play on two refurbished pianos, kindly placed for the public’s enjoyment at The URA Centre as part of the Play It Forward Singapore community movement.
The first Meetup happened in July 2016 and since then, the network has only grown. People who attended have brought their families and friends and spread the love of music further into the community. Even visitors who happen to pass the Piano Park @ URA Centre stop by and sit in, weaving into their short stopover in Singapore a beautiful memory of music and fellowship.
This evening’s Meetup was special, as it was hosted by Casio Singapore. The meeting location was Arena at 10 Square, located in Orchard Central. Thank you so much, Casio Singapore, for hosting us on Sunday!
During previous Meetups at The URA Centre, one anonymous donor had donated two electric fans, an industry-grade battery pack, as well as several other items for various ThePiano.SG events, including Pianovers Recital and certain Meetups. The same donor again made a $100 donation today. As a result of his kindness, Pianovers got to enjoy a set of drinks. Thank you so much, our anonymous donor. We Pianovers are grateful and appreciative of your kind gesture!
This evening also happened to be the 15th day of Chinese New Year, or what is known in our local dialect as Chap Goh Meh. This day marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is a day marked by family reunions and even romance. Families come together to have a meal as the members reaffirm their family togetherness. In some cities in days gone by, red lanterns were hung all over town and matchmakers were busily finding matches for lonely men and women. Today, this festival has taken on a modern twist as the new generation regards this day as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. As the moon on the 15th night is full and round, the full moon is now a recognisable symbol of the 15th day.
As the evening started, Gregory Goh, Product Specialist of Electronic Musical Instrument at Casio Singapore, shared with us features of the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid GP-500. Casio’s Grand Hybrid digital pianos were developed in collaboration with famed German piano manufacturer C. Bechstein, and come equipped with its Natural Grand Hammer Action Keyboard technology. This one-of-a-kind mechanism includes full-length wooden concert grand piano keys, using matching materials and methods as found in C. Bechstein grand pianos. A keypress sends a hammer along the same exact vertical path as a grand piano, with accurate pivot points and scaled weighting, resulting in a true piano touch that allows the musician to play in a completely natural manner. Also featured in this line is the AiR Grand Sound Source, which recreates the sonic and physical characteristics of three legendary grand pianos, dubbed Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna.
Pianovers Meetup would not be complete without its Mini-Recital, the segment where aspiring and experienced pianists get to showcase their talents at the keyboard.
Gwen got this segment rolling when she performed Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb major, Op. 73 (Emperor Concerto) by Beethoven. During his lifetime, Beethoven had written a total of five piano concertos. The last concerto was completed around 1811. Next, Gwen played Blue Danube, a popular waltz composed by Johann Strauss II, composed in 1866. It was inspired by the Danube River, a major river in the European continent that starts in Germany and runs through a total of 10 countries.
Theng Beng played Take Me Home, Country Roads by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver. Although it has been many years since this song was published, it is still very popular today. It has sold more than a million digital copies in the United States and has become John Denver’s most popular song. In fact, it is regarded as his signature song. So popular is "Take Me Home, Country Roads" that the state of West Virginia in the United States passed a resolution in 2014 to make this song the official state song, alongside three other pieces, "West Virginia Hills", "This Is My West Virginia" and "West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home".
Siew Tin was the next performer at the stage. She is a regular Pianover and is a great member to have in our Pianovers community. Siew Tin is also a wonderful and kind lady, having noted that the list of players this evening was long and offered to play just one piece rather than her usual two even though they would be still within the five minutes each performer has. This way, more people would be able to play during today’s Meetup. Siew Tin performed 让我们看云去 by 黄大城.
Teik Lee came up to the stage next. He played 蒲公英的约定 by 周杰倫 (Jay Chou). This piece was written in 2007 for Jay Chou's movie "不能说的秘密" (The Secret), and his album "我很忙". It is interesting to note that in the movie "不能说的秘密", there is a piano battle scene. In this duel, Ye Xianglun, played by Jay Chou, is engaged in a battle against The Prince of Piano, played by Zhan Yuhao (詹宇豪).
Next to play at the Mini-Recital was Wesley, who played Ballade Pour Adeline by Paul de Senneville. Paul had dedicated this piece to his newborn, Adeline. When Senneville was looking for a performer for this composition, 21 hopefuls arrived for the audition. Eventually, Philippe Pagès’ soft touch on the keyboard, his reserved personality and his good looks, won him the coveted spot. Pagès uses the stage name Richard Clayderman. Till today, "Ballade Pour Adeline" remains Clayderman’s signature piece.
Albert was up at the stage next. Albert is another regular Pianover and he played "爱人是蜜糖" by 姚敏. Like Siew Tin, Albert is a helpful member of the community. He had asked if he could offer to help with anything this evening and offered to arrive at 4pm if necessary. On hearing that we needed drinks, he proceeded to buy four large sets of drinks for us (24 individual packs in all). What was amazing was that instead of buying the drinks from the Orchard area, he actually purchased them near his home, where they were cheaper, and transported them all the way by train to Orchard Central. Thank you so much, Albert, for your thoughtfulness and your kind effort!
Jovan performed Yankee Doodle Boy by George M. Cohan. This song, not to be confused with Yankee Doodle, was inspired by a horse named Yankee Doodle and has garnered quite a following. Not only is it a patriotic song from the Broadway musical Little Johnny Jones, it has also been made the theme song by the Hawthorn Football Club. Following Yankee Doodle Boy, Jovan performed Polka Mazurka.
Jia Hui performed 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart) by 翁清溪 (Weng Ching-hsi). Like Siew Tin, Jia Hui played one piece instead of two to accommodate to the short timeframe and long playing list this evening. Given that today was the 15th of the Chinese New Year, this piece was very apt for this Meetup session! 月亮代表我的心 was the first piece related to the moon at this Meetup. This piece was played in a refreshing style, never seen during Pianovers Meetups. "The Moon Represents My Heart" became one of the first popular foreign songs (called " gangtai songs”) in China under the new Open Door Policy, which was instituted in the late 1970s. This marked a dramatic change in the local music scene as foreign music was now allowed into the country for the first time.
Following Jia Hui’s performance, Vanessa and Mitch came up to the piano. They performed Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Khalil Walton and Khari Cain (that is a long list of writers!). This musical collaboration between the five gentlemen and performed by Bruno Mars, who released it in his debut studio album "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" (2010). This song is a pop and R&B song and compliments a woman’s beauty. Mars once revealed that he was a fan of romantic songs and that was what inspired him to write Just The Way You Are. He had recounted during an interview, “I'm a big fan of songs like Joe Cocker's 'You Are So Beautiful' and Eric Clapton's 'Wonderful Tonight' - songs that go straight to the point. You know, there's no mind-boggling lyrics or twists in the story - they just come directly from the heart.”
This song is so popular that it has been covered by various artistes. It also provided inspiration to Meghan Trainor, who came up with the debut single "All About That Bass”. This song has also won several awards. It was given the Platinum award nine times by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and nine times by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). This song also has the distinction of being the best-selling digital single of 2011, having achieved more than 12.2 million copies. To date, it has sold over 13.7 million copies worldwide. Thus, it has become one of the best selling digital singles of all time!
Keisha was up at the piano next and the piece performed was Sostenuto in E flat, KK IVb No. 10 by Chopin, which is used in the ABRSM 2017-2018 Piano Grade 5 examination. When it was written, it had no title and no dynamic markings, except for the date 20 July 1840 and a dedication to Émile Gaillard. The composition was written in Chopin’s own hand, on a scrap board belonging to Gaillard. Similar to the works of Bach and other famous Baroque music masters, the performer attempting this piece has to use his or her own judgment to come up with the dynamics and timing to make this a meaningful place to the listening ear.
After Keisha’s performance, Dhafin played Mia and Sebastian's Theme (La La Land) by Justin Hurwitz. This music was used in the musical film "La La Land", which was released in December 2016. This film, which stars Ryan Gosling (a jazz pianist) and Emma Stone (aspiring actress) who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles, was an award winner. It garnered the Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for "City of Stars”. This film also received 14 nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Chris was up at the piano next and he played Air on the G String by JS Bach. This piece is an arrangement from violinist August Wilhelmj and originated from the second movement in Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068. To perform this piece, Chris used a preset on the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid GP-500, which added string accompaniment to his arrangement. Sporting features that an acoustic piano does not have, a digital piano allows performers to do much more. Adding string accompaniment is indeed one of the fun things one can achieve with this digital piano!
Next up at the piano was David, who played Italian concerto BWV 971, 1st movt, Allegro by JS Bach. This is a three-movement concerto composed for the harpsichord solo and was published in 1735.
It is fitting that both Chris and David played compositions by JS Bach. Bach was a famous German composer hailing from the Baroque era, who was born on 31 March 1685. This year, his 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.
Zhi Yuan played Prelude No. 1 (Danseuses de Delphes) by Claude Debussy. This is a set of 24 Preludes meant for solo piano, divided into two books of 12 preludes each. "Danseuses de Delphes" refers to Dancers of Delphi, also known as the Acanthus Column. The three figures are perched on an acanthus column, an archeological piece discovered in Delphi. Debussy had not seen the real Acanthus Column, although he did see a replica.
Erika played Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy. This is the third and most famous movement of Suite bergamasque, in D Flat major, by Debussy. This song was inspired by Verlaine's poem Clair de Lune, ("moonlight" in French). This piece belonged to the era of French Impressionism, the 19th century art movement and was written in 9/8 meter, marked andante très expressif (very expressive), and played mostly pianissimo (very softly). It was supposed to be included in Walt Disney’s Fantasia, however, it was left out due to running time issues. A work print of this piece was rediscovered in 1992 and included as a bonus feature in some later releases of Fantasia. This piece is not to be confused with Au clair de la lune ("By the Light of the Moon"), a French folk song of the 18th century. Its composer and lyricist are unknown.
May Ling played Nessun Dorma (from Turandot) by Giacomo Puccini. This piece is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. In this opera, Calaf, the unknown prince, falls in love with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot. The challenge that meets any man who wishes to wed Turandot is a set of difficult riddles that must first be answered, failing of which the man will be beheaded. In this area, Calaf sings to his confidence that he will win the princess.
The final person to play during tonight’s Mini-Recital was Gavin, who performed Embraceable You by George Gershwin. This was a popular jazz song with lyrics by his brother, Ira Gershwin. It was written in 1928, however, the operetta, named East Is West, was not published until 1930. It was included in the Broadway musical "Girl Crazy".
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, the next segment was the Open Segment. This is a time for Pianovers to jam on the piano, to exchange tips and to bond. This evening, Pianovers had a chance to jam on both the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid GP-500, and another stage piano. Pianovers could be seen interacting with one another and having a genuinely fun time together. As is customary for every Meetup, a group photograph is taken. This evening was no different. In today’s group photograph, we had a group of almost 50 people.
Thank you once again, Casio, for hosting this Meetup session, and for sharing the features of the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid GP-500! We certainly had a most enjoyable time!
See all of you again this Sunday, 11 March 2018, at 5pm at The URA Centre, for Meetup #71!