On Sunday, we brought you the 74th Pianovers Meetup from the heart of the CBD. It was the Piano Park @ URA Centre, where two upright pianos from the Play It Forward Singapore arts movement had been placed. Without a doubt, this was a time that Pianovers had been eagerly waiting for. After a week of hard work, what better way to relax and unwind than to meet up with fellow piano lovers and bond over music?
Indeed, building a community of like-minded piano lovers is one of the aims of ThePiano.SG, founded by Sng Yong Meng in 2015. One of the most important events in ThePiano.SG’s calendar, Pianovers Meetup is a weekly event in which aspiring pianists and non-players alike come together to The URA Centre to perform, network and share tips with one another over music. Through selfless and open sharing, Pianovers have become a close-knit community.
Every Sunday, a group of Pianovers meets early, a full hour before the programme starts, to have dinner and bond informally. This evening, we had You Wei and Shu Jian from Singapore Polytechnic Piano Club, May Ling, as well as Janice. We are very encouraged by the support accorded to Pianovers Meetups by our newcomer friends!
6pm rolled around and the group trooped back to the URA Centre, where Pianovers had started to pour in. We welcome newcomer Hiro, who had arrived in Singapore just a week ago. Incidentally, Meetup #74 happened over the same weekend as our Pop-up Stall @ Suntec. It lasted for two days, ending at 9pm every night. Thank you, Elyn, for manning the fort while Yong Meng went over to URA Centre to conduct the Meetup!
Soon, it was 7pm and the lights at the URA Centre were turned on. This was the highly-anticipated moment for Pianovers present, as it signaled the start of the Mini-Recital. The Mini-Recital is the segment of the evening where pre-registered pianists get a chance to take to the stage and play to an appreciative crowd.
Gwen got the ball rolling with two pieces, Symphony No. 5 in E minor by Tchaikovsky and Lullaby by Brahms. "Lullaby" is one of the most famous music pieces of all time and is immensely familiar to young parents. Although it is used to lull babies to sleep today, it was originally dedicated by Brahms to his friend, Bertha Faber, when she gave birth to her second son. First published in 1868, "Lullaby" was inspired by the frequent songs from Faber, whom Brahms had been in love with. Interestingly, this composition has her counter-melody hidden within it.
Next up at the stage was Corrine Ying, who performed Writing's On The Wall by Sam Smith, and Jimmy Napes. This single, which was written for the release of the 2015 James Bond movie "Spectre", climbed the UK Singles Chart and became the first Bond movie to reach number one.
Dhafin played Misty by Erroll Garner. This was a jazz standard written in 1954 by the pianist Erroll Garner. Before tonight’s performance, Dhafin last performed at Meetup #70, held at 10 Square. Then, he played La La Land (Mia and Sebastian's Theme).
Following Dhafin’s performance, his sister, Keisha, played Rondo Arabe by Adolphe Blanc. It was certainly heartening to see brother and sister playing and learning music together!
David delighted Chopin’s fans by playing Etude Op. 25, No. 2 by Chopin. Incidentally, this piece was only the first of many of Chopin’s compositions to be played tonight! This makes tonight’s Meetup session a seemingly Chopin-themed night, not unlike the Bach-themed Meetup #72 several weeks back.
Albert played a Mandarin classic, "花落谁家" by 姚敏. This song was originally sung by 姚莉, the famous singer sister of 姚敏. She is the only surviving member of the Seven Great Singing Stars of Shanghai (七大歌星) today and is 96 years old today. Her name was a household name in the 1940s.
Janice Liew came up to play next; however, here's the puzzle. She herself did not know the name of the two pieces that she would play. All she knew was that they were originally performed by Richard Clayderman! So she did the next best thing: Invite everyone present to solve the puzzle for her. She played what she knew and after the Mini-recital, Gavin revealed the names of the songs, which turned out to be Les Larmes De Joie by Olivier Toussaint, as well as Pres du Coeur by Paul de Senneville and Jean Baudlot. Janice also played Hallelujah (from Shrek) by Leonard Cohen.
Masumi Tsuchiya, who had joined us at Meetup #70, held at Orchard Central, played two pieces tonight. A lover of classical piano pieces, she played Prelude and Fugue in C minor, WTC II, No. 2, BWV 871 by Bach, as well as Étude, Op. 10, No. 2 by Chopin. The second piece is special in that it allows the pianist to work on the weaker fingers on the right hand. This is achieved by getting the pianist to use the third, fourth and fifth fingers as they work on the rapid chromatic scale figures. The short chords and single notes, meanwhile, are played by the first two fingers, as well as all fingers of the left hand. When Chopin composed this piece, he painstakingly indicated the fingering for almost 800 notes.
Gavin Koh played an interesting piece tonight, Thème varié, Op. 89 by Cécile Chaminade. Chaminade, who was born in Paris, had a tough beginning in her music career. Her father had frowned on her pursuing music; however, she persevered and experimented with music composition in her early days. When she was eight, she played some of her own works to an impressed Georges Bizet, who was then an accomplished musician in Paris. A decade later, she gave her first concert!
Jing Wei surprised us this evening with two original compositions, Last Life Cycle and Lluvia Oscura - Dark Rain. Both were written by Jing Wei herself and published under her private label "Tamsin's Lighthouse". At ThePiano.SG, we encourage Pianovers to play their own compositions and hone their creative skills. Well done, Jing Wei! We support you in your creative journey and hope to hear more original compositions from you!
Grace Wong treated Pianovers to the next of Chopin’s musical pieces when she performed "Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op 52". Chopin’s Ballade series are considered to be some of the most challenging pieces in the standard piano repertoire. Of the four Ballades, No. 4 is deemed the most difficult, both technically and musically. Ballade was inspired by Adam Mickiewicz's poem The Three Budrys. This poem tells the story of three brothers sent on a quest to seek treasures but returned with three Polish brides instead.
Hiro, a newcomer to Pianovers Meetup, played the last Chopin composition for the night, Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 by Chopin. Also known as Heroic Polonaise, this composition is one of Chopin's most admired compositions. Playing this pieces not only requires a high level of skill but is also physically demanding. Nevertheless, Polonaise is a favorite of the classical piano repertoire. The polonaise features many difficult technical aspects, including fast ascending chromatic perfect fourths, rapid, difficult octave scaling, trills with the weaker fingers, quick scales, fast arpeggios, broken chords, chords with wide fingering and use of a wide range of the piano keyboard. Playing this piece definitely calls for a high level of skill!
The next pianist to come up to the stage was Ee Fong, who played 情已逝 by Takao Kisugi. This song is a cover of the Japanese song グッドバイ・デイ ("Goodbye Day") and is also compiled in Jackie Cheung's 1985 album "Smile". This song became so popular that after it was launched by Jackie that it won the 1985 Hong Kong Top Ten Mandarin hits and Ten Best Songs awards! Ee Fong also played another Mandarin oldie, 城里的月光 by 陈佳明.
Gee Yong delighted the audience with a modern Mandarin hit 彩虹 by Jay Chou. The melody used in "彩虹" was originally the theme song used in the movie "不能说的秘密". Jay loved the song so much that he had always wanted to re-interpret this song. When he was given a chance to work on the ending theme of the movie "命运呼叫转移", Jay thought this was a good opportunity to work on the song, and so "彩虹" was born.
Chris Khoo played I'll Never Fall in Love Again by Burt Bacharach. This song was written for the 1968 musical "Promises, Promises", a musical based on the 1960 film "The Apartment". The musical recounts a story of a junior executive working in an insurance company who allows his apartment to be used by his married superiors for private rendezvous, in a bid to rise through the ranks.
A Pianovers Meetup would not be complete without a group photograph, and that was what we took! The Pianovers certainly interacted well between themselves, as they shared playing tips and knowledge about music between themselves. Following the earlier request for help for Janice’s puzzle, Gavin went up to Janice and helped her with the music names. What followed was certainly heartwarming, as they could be seen chatting happily. It was also certainly a happy occasion to see Zafri again, after a long break. What made his appearance all the more endearing was that he had been at our Pop-up Stall @ Suntec earlier, where he bought some items and subsequently decided to come over to URA Centre to join us!