Sunday is the time when friends and family come together after a long week to share in laughter and joy. For the Pianovers at ThePiano.SG, Sunday is the time for piano lovers to come together, unwind and enjoy a music-filled night in great company. Since July 2016, Pianovers Meetups have successfully brought talent of all ages, backgrounds and countries together. This week was certainly no exception.
Early at the event were some new faces that included Anaiiis (from France), EJ (from Korea), Shawn and his wife, who happened to pass by and joined us throughout till 9pm, as well as all newcomers. Together with ThePiano.SG founder Sng Yong Meng, they had a great dinner at Maxwell Road Food Centre where they got to know each other better. It is always good to bond over food and this is what the group did!
Following dinner, we made our way back to The URA Centre to greet the rest of the excited Pianovers, who included Peiyun, Tiffany, and Yong Meng (another person with the same name!), Kevin and his wife Jean as well as their children Javier and Jaymee, as well as Meng Yang. While waiting for the event proper to commence, Pianovers started interacting with one another and exchanging tips about piano playing. On his part, Yong Meng greeted the newcomers and spoke to them, making them feel at home in the Pianovers community.
The Mini-Recital started with the piece Overjoyed Stevie Wonder, which entertained the crowd with environmental percussion including sounds of nature like crickets, bird calls, ocean sounds, pebbles and crushing leaves. "Overjoyed" was first written by Stevie Wonder for the 1979 album "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants", but was not published until 1985, when it was re-recorded for the album "In Square Circle" in 1985. This evening’s rendition was presented us by May Ling, our regular Pianover.
Next up was Grace Pang, who played Solfeggio in D Major by Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach. Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach was the fifth son of Johann Sebastian Bach and was the child of Bach and Anna Magdalena. Bach had 20 children in all, with his two wives. His first wife bore him 7, while his second, Anna, gave birth to 13.
Siew Tin went up to the piano next and performed her renditions of 巧合 by 翁清溪 , as well as 三年 by 姚敏. "三年" is featured in the movie "一夜风流". The original singer is 李香兰, who also goes by the name of Yoshiko Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi was a Chinese-born Japanese actress and singer. She had a fulfilling career in China, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States before passing away in September 2014.
Janice Liew also kept the audience on their toes with two compositions this evening, Fairytale (soundtrack from Shrek) by John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams, as well as Sukiyaki, a Japanese piece which is also known by the formal name Ue o Muite Arukō (I Look Up As I Walk). The name “Sukiyaki” is a misnomer as it means the Japanese hot pot dish of cooked beef. Although this name has no relevance whatever to the song, it was chosen as it is short, catchy and easily recognisable and remembered by Westerners.
Jovan played two pieces this evening. The first was La Cumparsita (which means “the little parade”) by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez. This was a tango written in 1916 and it is one of the most famous tangos known around the world. There are various versions of this song. The first was an instrumental version and this was followed by another version, also by Rodríguez, which had lyrics. La Cumparsita is very popular and it is traditionally played as the last dance of the evening. Following this piece, Jovan played Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Hot on the heels of Jovan was Gavin Koh, who played Concerto in F by George Gershwin. Because it was April Fool's Day, Gavin had first jokingly said that he would be playing 4'33'' by John Cage, a piece that would involve sitting by the piano doing nothing, and letting the audience listen to 4 min and 33 seconds of silence, or rather, the ambient sounds around them. This piece has been “performed” over the years in various forms. In an apparent show of the widespread appeal of 4’33”, this infamous piece has given rise to an interesting global movement. This exercise involves having people from around the world contribute their own 4’33” recordings. The results have been as varied and colourful as highway noise and the chime of bells in a subway carriage. True to the essence of leaving things to chance, no two contributions are ever the same.
Uncle Albert played his 90th piece at Pianovers Meetups today, since he started performing at Meetup #21 (18 Dec 2016). He played "江水向东流" by 姚敏. That represents a total playing time of 200 minutes! It is even more amazing that he does not repeat his pieces!
Following Albert was Theng Beng and this evening, he played a medley of Greensleeves, and Love is Blue. "Greensleeves" is a traditional English folk song and alludes to a Lady Greensleeves, which was a nickname, not a title as one would have thought. This referred to the green sleeves that were part of women’s clothes during the 15th century (known as the Tudor era). Interestingly, the sleeves then were of a different colour from the main clothing and attached with lace, rendering them special importance.
Waiting to entertain us with Mandarin pop was another of our regular Pianover, Gee Yong. He played 等你下课 by Jay Chou. This song was released as recently as January 2018 and with the beautiful lyrics that read “轻人暗恋女孩，苦苦追求、每天等对方下课的心情”, it tells the story of teenage love, complete with a boy who admires the girl of his dreams as he waits for her to dismiss from class. So popular is this song that the YouTube music video has already achieved 44 million views!
Pauline Yong came up to the stage and played Nocturne in C sharp minor (Op. posth) 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.
After Pauline played her piece, it was time for her daughter, Yap Huan Ching, to go up to the piano. She played Staccato Beans by Tan Dun. This piece is part of the 2017 - 2018 ABRSM G5 List C. It was heartening to see both parent and child learning the piano together. Not only does this lend support for each other, it also allows the family to bond further. In addition, bringing the child out of the classroom and receive exposure in the real world environment definitely helps with the learning.
Pianovers were in for a treat as the next player, Henry Wong, played Prelude in C Major by JS Bach. "Prelude in C" is from "The Well Tempered Clavier", a collection of two series of Preludes and Fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, making a total of 48 compositions. In particular, "Prelude in C" is in the first book. The first set was compiled in 1722 during Bach's appointment in Köthen; the second followed two decades later when he was in Leipzig. We at ThePiano.SG were so happy to have Henry back with us! He just recently joined us, and has performed twice, including today. We look forward to seeing you more often, Henry!
Last but not least, Chris Khoo performed I Am by David Clydesdale. "I Am" is a musical setting associated with Christianity, as it recounts the suffering and resurrection of Jesus through the events of Holy Week. "I Am" was arranged, compiled and composed by David Clydesdale. Chris decided to play this piece because this is an Easter Sunday.
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, we moved into the Open Segment. This is the time when Pianovers interact, exchange ideas and generally bond. What ensued were lots of jamming on the two pianos, as well as a duet between Pianovers. These interactions between passionate Pianovers were exactly what we at ThePiano.SG want to achieve. Not only does Meetup bring together piano lovers, it helps to build a cohesive community and enhance the Singapore spirit.
You’ll never know what to expect at each meeting, which is the true beauty of the Pianovers Meetup.