The URA Centre was abuzz with activity on a Sunday evening again. Every Sunday, without fail, passionate piano lovers – affectionately known as Pianovers – converge here to meet, gather and bond over piano playing. Here, two refurbished upright pianos, placed here as part of the Play It Forward Singapore community project, sit ready for passionate pianists to lay their hands on their keys. Known as Pianovers Meetup, this weekly session organised by ThePiano.SG offers a platform for pianists to come together to perform and learn from others. Even people who cannot play but love to listen to music are welcome to join in. It is really heartening to see people of all ages and coming from all walks of life coming together weekly. Some, having enjoyed the benefits of attending, return with families and friends in subsequent Meetups!
The Meetups start at 6:30pm, however, some Pianovers come early to have dinner. This evening’s session was no different. ThePiano.SG’s Founder, Sng Yong Meng, was joined by Sally and Hiro, and the trio trooped off to Maxwell Road Food Centre for some local delicacies. Over a delicious dinner, old bonds were reinforced and new bonds created! Soon, it was time to head back to Piano Park @ URA Centre, where they were joined by more Pianovers.
We were so happy to see not just the regular group of Pianovers who never fail to show their support but also some new members. All those present chatted and exchanged tips about piano music. As Yong Meng chatted with Steven, Markov was seen having a conversation with Zafri. Then, Gavin, Steven, Jonathan and Zafri got together for their own discussion. Jonathan and Markov also had their chance to get to know each other better, as they held their own conversation. Connecting people is what we do best and it is certainly heartening to see Pianovers having lifelong friendships!
As Yong Meng was busy setting up the equipment to get the evening started, Pianovers indulged themselves in the snacks that Siew Tin had brought along. We all enjoyed M&M chocolates, nuts, as well as many other goodies. Thank you, Siew Tin, for your kind gesture!
As a social movement, Meetup is not just about connecting people in the piano community and allowing people to network and bond. Meetup also helps to build social cohesion and promote racial harmony as people of all races, languages and religions come together to indulge in this communal space to make music. At the core of Pianovers Meetup sessions is the desire to strengthen the Singapore Spirit. It certainly helps to spread the joy of playing the piano!
Yong Meng took the opportunity to share recent events with people present.
We had just held our Popup Stall @ Serangoon Gardens Community Club, as well as Pianovers Sailaway #2, the day before. We are always looking at ways to bring the piano closer to all of you, and these two are just part of our efforts in doing so. We saw a wonderful crowd at Serangoon Gardens Community Club, who walked away with many interesting piano-themed items on sale.
We also had the opportunity to play host to those who joined us on Eagle Wings, the 67-foot yacht that brought them out to the open sea on a journey. This was a magical voyage, complete with 4 pianos on board, a piano recital, open jamming, a wonderful buffet dinner and fireworks! Thank you, Pianovers, for your support for these two events!
The Registered Players segment began with Jia Hui, who played us her rendition of Close To You (from Long Vacation), composed by Cagnet. This song was used in the 1996 Japanese television drama, a series that was very popular among Japanese viewers.
Following Jia Hui’s performance, Gavin came up and performed Aegukka by Kim Won-gyun as well as The Star Spangled Banner by John Stafford Smith. These are the national anthems of North Korea and the United States respectively. Gavin decided to play two national anthems as he was inspired by Janice's performance at Meetup #79, when she played "State Anthem of the Russian Federation". Further, this week was going to see the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore, the first contact between the two Presidents of the United States and North Korea.
Siew Tin, our regular Pianover, came up to the piano next. This evening, she played 午夜香吻 by 上官流雲. The composer wrote this piece of the eve of Japanese invasion in 1941. Then, 上官流雲 was in Penang, Malaysia and he composed it in memory of his first love. This song was first performed by Singaporean singer 巫美玲.
Albert performed "秋水伊人" by 贺绿汀. This song was used in the 1937 movie "古塔奇案". Here, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to both Albert and Siew Tin for turning up early for our Pianovers Sailaway #2 event and staying back after the yacht docked at night, to volunteer your time to help Yong Meng out with the logistics. Thank you so much for helping us make the event a successful one!
I-Wen, our youngest Pianover, performed two pieces, Mickey Waltz and Easy Waltz. We are very happy that she is progressing well in her musical journey. Thank you for entertaining us with two short waltz pieces this evening. To date, I-Wen has completed 35 pieces at Pianovers Meetup. Well done, I-Wen! We are very proud of you! Continue to enjoy your musical learning journey!
Janice played My Kazakhstan by Shamshi Kaldayakov, which is the national anthem of Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia. This piece was originally written as a song by the current president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and was adopted as the national anthem in January 2006.
Emmy went up to the piano next and played Brother John by Jean-Philippe Rameau, a French nursery rhyme. Interestingly, Emmy had a plushie with her on the piano. Was she motivated by Brandon’s use of Pikachu plushie recently? "Brother John" is a song about a monk, Frère Jacques, who fails to sound the bell for the matins because he has overslept. Eventually, someone wakes the friar up with this song. Although the English translation changed the meaning of the words, the song retains its original melody.
Jonathan played Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 14 No. 2, 1st Movt by Beethoven. This piece was composed in 1798 and dedicated to Baroness Josefa von Braun. During his lifetime, Beethoven composed a total of 32 sonatas. Beethoven’s set of 32 sonatas is considered the "The New Testament" of music, against Johann Sebastian Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier being "The Old Testament".
Next up at the stage was Erika, who delighted us with Waltz in E minor, B. 56 by Chopin. This piece was composed in 1830. However, it was not published until 1851, way after Chopin had passed away. It is the fourteenth and final waltz in the older editions of Chopin, however, it is widely believed to have been composed before any of the waltzes published in Chopin's lifetime.
Sally, a newcomer to Pianovers Meetup, performed Just The Two Of Us by Bill Withers, William Salter and Ralph MacDonald. This song was written in 1981 and won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song. This song was so popular that it saw a few cover versions. Notably, Will Smith released a single in 1997. Two years later, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) created a parody of Will Smith’s version in the 1999 film "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me". This performance was Sally’s debut performance. Well done, Sally! We are proud of you performing at your first attendance. We want to hear you perform again!
Grace Wong played Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, 1st Movt by Beethoven. This piece was written in 1816 and dedicated to the pianist Baroness Dorothea Ertmann. It is a four-part harmony which features the heavy use of contrapuntal texture. Moreover, it was the only one of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas that he saw being played publicly.
Chris Khoo performed My Way by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. This piece was originally published in 1967 and had the original name "Comme d'habitude" (As usual). "My Way" was popularised by Frank Sinatra. There are two interpretations. The French song is about routine in a failing relationship. The English version, by comparison, describes how one looks back at one's life without regret.
Gregory performed Sunday Morning by Jesse Carmichael and Adam Levine. This song was released in 2004 by American pop band Maroon 5. Gregory usually plays Chinese pop songs in our Meetups but decided to do something different today, and it was a really refreshing experience! At ThePiano.SG, we encourage Pianovers to try a wider repertoire and experience different types of music.
Last but not least, Brandon played Für Elise by Beethoven. Similar to last week, he appeared with his Pikachu plushie, which had pride of place on the piano. "Für Elise" has an interesting mystery, including Beethoven's probable preference of the 1822 version over the popular version today. To complicate matters, there was never a person known as Elise!
Soon, the Registered Segment ended and it was time to move into the Open Segment! Pianovers took the opportunity to connect and to bond. We took a group photograph to allow us to remember tonight’s fun event. There was also lots of jamming, as Pianovers crowded around the two upright pianos. Laughter could also be heard at the goodies table. Sally stayed behind and interacted with Pianovers, and even jammed with Jonathan till late.
As 17 June 2018 is Fathers’ Day, there will be no Pianovers Meetup that day. The next session, Meetup #82, will happen on 24 June 2018. It will be a Hari Raya-themed session, so everyone is encouraged to play Hari Raya related pieces. Come dressed in green for a beautiful group picture as well!