As evening arrived on another Sunday at Piano Park @ URA Centre, Pianovers from all over the island gathered for the 71st Pianovers Meetup. Unique talents and piano lovers of all ages and skills are always present at the Meetups, this week being no exception. The event started with a dinner at 5:30pm and this evening, joining us for dinner were Daryl Chan, Henry Wong, Jonathan, Gavin, as well as a family comprising Winny, Hiro and their daughter Erika.
Following dinner, the group made its way back to The URA Centre, where it was joined by more Pianovers. We had a big group this evening, amongst them parents with children, probably owing to the impending school holidays. Welcome to Pianovers Meetup! We are glad that you joined us!
We believe that making new friends, talking to other pianists and interacting with a lively pianist community helps grow one’s passion and sustain one’s interest in the piano. We just love how parents bring their children to our sessions. It is truly beneficial to expose children to music, especially in a group setting, at a young age, whether to allow them to hone their playing skills or build their confidence. Indeed, we are very happy that we have children as part of our community!
Thank you, too, to the various Pianovers who brought food for all to share. Pianovers present enjoyed a session of feasting before the programme proper began. Soon, it was 7pm and the lights at The URA Centre were switched on. The most important segment of the evening began, the Mini-Recital.
Kicking off the Mini-Recital was Jeremy Foo, who played two pieces this evening, Träumerei ("Dreaming") from Kinderszenen Op. 15 No. 7 by Robert Schumann and Ue o Muite Arukō (I Look Up As I Walk) by Hachidai Nakamura. The latter is a Japanese piece, and in Western countries, this song is known by the more popular name, "Sukiyaki". However, this is a misnomer as the name “sukiyaki” means the Japanese hot pot dish of cooked beef. Although this name has no relevance whatever to the song, it was chosen as it was short, catchy and easily recognisable and remembered by Westerners.
The inspiration for this song came when Nakamura walked by a public demonstration against the presence of US Army personnel in Japan. He was frustrated at the lack of efforts to end this occupation, however, rather than target this event in this song, Nakamura left the lyrics generic, so that it could convey the meaning of lost love, too. There is an English version of this song, recorded by "A Taste of Honey". However, it should be noted that this song is not a translation of the original Japanese lyrics. Instead, it is a totally different set of lyrics arranged to the same melody.
Debashis was next at the piano and he played two pieces, Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Billy Corgan and Theme from Iron Man 3 by Brian Tyler. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" is a song performed by the American alternative rock band "The Smashing Pumpkins" and first published in 1995. It won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance and was featured as a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero 5 released in 2009.
Following Debashis, Siew Tin performed her Chinese classic 蜗牛与黄莺鸟 (The Snail and the Oriole) by 林建昌. This is a nursery song that was published in 1979. Although the nature and title of this song title looks trivial, the lyrics tell an important story. The song tells the story of an oriole, who laughs at a snail that has to lug a heavy shell on its back as it makes its way up a grapevine. Despite the excruciating climb, the snail displays the attitudes of perseverance and resilience.
Teik lee was next at the piano. He performed 听海 by 涂惠源. This song originally appeared in 张惠妹 A-Mei’s 1997 album, "Bad Boy". A-Mei is an established Taiwanese singer, having sold more than 50 million records and won the golden Melody Awards for Best Mandarin Female Singer for each of her albums, Truth (2001), Amit (2009) and Faces of Paranoia (2014). These awards also made her one of the singers who won this category the most number of times.
Janice played Do You Hear the People Sing? by Claude-Michel Schönberg. This song appeared in the musical "Les Misérables" and is a call for people to overcome adversity. An important part of the musical describes a scene in which rebel students demonstrate in the streets of Paris. In a bid to overthrow the government, they draw the National Guard into combat and institute a civilian uprising. Alas, their rebellion fails.
Albert, our regular Pianover who is known for his Chinese classics, played two pieces this evening. He performed "良夜不能留" by 姚敏 and "花非花" by 黃自. "花非花" was performed by Elise in her debut album, known as “Elise, The Piano Girl”, released in December 2005. Her album seeks to create a fusion of classical, pop and heavy metal genres by blending the piano and other modern instruments.
Yong Meng took the opportunity to share with Pianovers present that the Pianovers community has a wide diversity of piano lovers. The youngest Pianover is I-Wen and the most senior is Uncle Albert himself. This evening, we have another senior, Henry Wong, who joined us for dinner earlier. Uncle Henry stopped learning the piano at age 15 but picked it up again only eight months ago, after a 55-year-old hiatus. Both Uncle Albert, and Uncle Henry exemplify the quality of 活到老，学到老 (One is never too old to learn)!
Following Albert closely was I-Wen who performed two pieces tonight - Honeybee March and Easy Waltz. I-Wen is the daughter of Jenny, who is a piano teacher. Jenny represents an inspiring Pianover who believes in exposing her students to the real world of piano-playing. Jinci who would perform later, is Jenny's student. While one certainly picks up playing skills in the classroom, it is only in real-world situations where students get to interact with more established players, observe them and pick up good tips. Jenny brings I-Wen to Pianovers Meetups regularly, where she gets to build her confidence and her interest in piano. Last August, I-Wen even participated in the Pianovers Recital, an event held in an auditorium-like environment where two dozen Pianovers played on a bigger stage for an encouraging audience. Well done, I-Wen!
David was up at the piano next and he performed Air on the G String by JS Bach. This composition appears in Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068. Bach’s 333th birthday celebration will take place between 21 and 25 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.
Jinci performed Intermezzo No. 5 Op. 118 by Brahms. Intermezzo came from the compilation "Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118". This compilation is very much beloved in the classical music circles and was dedicated to Clara Schumann. It was the second last composition to be published while Brahm was still alive. Interestingly, Clara was the first to perform publicly any Brahm’s work.
May Ling performed 我要的幸福 by 李伟菘. This piece was first performed by Stefanie Sun and released in December 2000. Stefanie has come a long way, having first learned music at the LWS School of Music, where she was discovered by founder and teacher Lee Wei Song. Subsequently, Lee introduced Sun to Warner Music Taiwan, where her career took off. She became a mother in 2012.
Gavin played Elegy for the Victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011 by Nobuyuki Tsujii. A regular Pianover, Gavin also composed a Prelude to the Elegy, and added that to the front of the Elegy, playing both together as one piece. "Elegy for the Victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami" was composed and performed by blind pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii in March 2011.
Herman came up next and performed Spring by Joe Hisaishi. "Spring" was included in "Freedom Piano Stories 4" album, which was released in 2005. Hisaishi is a talented Japanese composer and musical director and is responsible for more than 100 film scores and solo albums. He is associated with animator Hayao Miyazaki and composed the scores for most of the latter’s animated films. Some of Hisaishi’s famous works include "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" (1986), "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988), 'Kiki's Delivery Service" (1989), "Spirited Away" (2001), "Howl's Moving Castle" (2004), "Ponyo" (2008) and "The Wind Rises" (2013). Herman is a piano teacher and recently subscribed to ThePiano.SG’s teacher's listing.
After Herman, Erika came up to the stage, where she performed Nocturne in C# minor, Op. Post. by Chopin. This piece was meant as a dedication by Chopin to his sister, Ludwika Chopin, as an exercise before she began to study his second Concerto. There is a history to this piece as well. This nocturne was also famously played by Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp, who was sent to a Nazi concentration camp after the death of her husband in a bomb raid in 1943. Amon Göth, the commandant, ordered her to play for him on his birthday and was very impressed by her performance of this nocturne. He spared both her and her sister's lives.
Daryl Lim performed Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2 by Chopin. This piece was composed in 1847 and was dedicated to his student, Charlotte de Rothschild. Chopin was well-known for his waltzes, which totalled 36. Sadly, out of this total number, only 18 to 20 are usually published. The rest are either in private hands or believed to be destroyed or lost.
Ashley played Waltz in B minor, Op. 69 No. 2 by Chopin. Chopin completed the piece in the year 1829, when he was just 19. Sadly, this piece was published posthumously in 1852, three years after he passed away. It is said that Chopin die probably due to tuberculosis, after living a life of poor health.
Shi Yun played Waltz in A, J. 146 by Carl Maria von Weber. Weber had written an opera, known as Euryanthe, which brought the Leitmotif technique to a whole new level. Shi Yun also played Tarantella: No. 6 from Miniatures, Op. 33 by Samuel Moiseyevich Maykapar. Given that this was Shi Yun’s first Meetup and she gave her debut performance, she did very well! Congratulations, Shi Yun!
Shernise played Cool by Stephen J. Wood. Going up to the stage right after her sister Shernise, Amber played Allegro: first movement from Toccata No. 8 in F by Carlos de Seixas. Both "Cool" and "Allegro" appeared in the ABRSM 2017 - 2018 Grade 5 syllabus. Shernise and Amber were attending Meetup for the first time, and were also giving their first performances. Kudos to them! We are very proud of Shernise and Amber and wish them all the best, not only in their upcoming piano examinations but also their musical journey!
Chris performed Over the Rainbow by Harold Arlen. "Over The Rainbow" was written for the movie "The Wizard of Oz" and became so popular that it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Apart from this, the song reached No 1 status in the "Songs of the Century" list. This song also had the honour of being listed as the greatest movie song of all time on the list of "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". Another feather in the cap came when Garland’s rendition of this song was earmarked for preservation in the National Recording Registry.
Jesse was the final player this evening and played Pirates of the Caribbean Theme Song by Klaus Badelt. Though Klaus received most of the acclaim from the soundtrack of the film, it was Hans Zimmer who wrote most of songs. Other writers involved in the orchestrating effort, too, although they are not given recognition. Jesse is a tourist and hailed from California, USA for a week. He happened to walk past our Meetup and joined the proceedings till it ended! He even played for us!
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. Pianovers could be seen interacting with one another and having a fun time, playing and learning together. As is customary for every Meetup, a group photograph is taken. We had a treat this evening, when Shi Yun’s father - Wei Ting, who is also a pianist, played something for us!
A gentle reminder that there is no Meetup on 18 March. The next session, Pianovers Meetup #72, happens on 25 March. Remember that this will be a Bach-themed session to commemorate JS Bach’s 333th birthday. See all of you then!