The Pianovers Meetup held on Sunday, 24 June 2018, was a much-anticipated event. This evening’s Meetup was conducted at Urban Park @ URA Centre and like the earlier events, saw a big group of piano lovers congregate. What makes this weekly event different from other gatherings is that Pianovers Meetups gather piano lovers, affectionately called Pianovers, from all walks of life. Here, piano lovers connect, learn from one another, and perform before a live audience.
The two pianos used here are from Play It Forward, a community arts movement that saw used pianos in good condition donated by kind owners, refurbished under the skillful hands of artists and designers, and placed in public places for the benefit of the public. Play It Forward Singapore made its debut in September 2015, when two pianos were placed at Aliwal Street.
Every week, different compositions are explored. Throughout the evenings, as the programme goes on, passers-by stop to listen to the music. Some even sit in to join us. Pianovers Meetup has now attracted 10,000 followers on our Facebook Page.
Some Pianovers come early and join Yong Meng for dinner. Food is always an interesting way to bond people with and this evening, we had Yong Meng, Zafri, Zong Lin and Hiro in the dinner group. They trooped to the Maxwell Road food centre for some local fare, and got to know one another better. Soon, it was time to return to The URA Centre and meet the rest of the Pianovers for what would turn out to be another fabulous evening of everything piano!
This evening’s session was a joyous one, for it featured the Hari Raya theme. Hari Raya marks the end of the fasting month for Muslims and here at Pianovers Meetups, we do not forget to celebrate with our fellow Muslims! This evening, Elyn and Siew Tin brought goodies to share with fellow Pianovers. Siew Tin bought delicious M&Ms chocolates, while Elyn brought cake, chocolate wafers, sweets and many other snacks! Thank you, Siew Tin and Elyn, for your generosity! As today’s Meetup was Hari Raya-themed, we encouraged everyone to play songs related to this festival. Here, we wish to wish all our Muslim Pianovers and readers Selamat Hari Raya!
Soon, it was time to start the most important segment of the evening, the Mini-Recital. Gwen was the first to go up to the stage, where she played Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel, as well as Ballet Air by Christoph Willibald Gluck. Over the years, this gentle, soothing piece has been used in a variety of situations, including weddings, romance movies and even advertisements. Owing to the sentimental nature of this composition, "Canon in D" was used by a piano store in Morioka-shi in Iwate Prefecture, Japan in its television commercial. In the marriage-themed advertisement, the outflow of emotions was evident as a father played it at her daughter’s wedding reception. This certainly tugged at the heartstrings of viewers!
Emmy and Brandon were the next to go up to the piano and performed Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This was our first time seeing a duet by these two young Pianovers! Bravo, well done Emmy and Brandon!
Siew Tin delighted us with 夜来香 by 黎锦光. This song was published in 1944 and performed by 李香蘭. Listeners may be surprised to know that although it is a Chinese classic song, the original singer is not a Chinese. 李香蘭 is native of Japan and this song has been covered by many artists, including Teresa Teng. There is a piece of history to this song. After WWII ended, all Japanese nationals were sent back to Japan, including 李香蘭. Sadly, due to her background, this song was banned from public performances for a period.
Albert performed "痴痴的等" by 王福龄, who was born in Shanghai but moved to Hong Kong in 1952. There, he wrote many songs, some of which became famous. They include songs like 不了情 and 南屏晚钟.
I-Wen, our youngest Pianover, went up to the piano and played two pieces. This evening, she played Mickey Waltz and Easy Waltz. Before going up to the piano, she stood before the crowd and introduced herself, as well as the pieces that she was going to play. Pianovers Meetups are not just about performing in front of an audience. They are also a good opportunity to train Pianovers in public speaking. By standing in front of a big group, introducing yourself and sharing about the piece you are going to perform, you're actually training your confidence to speak in public. This also helps you to understand the piece better, since you would have to do some research about your piece!
A "national anthem" fever seems to be running high recently - today, there would be three national anthems. Zafri started the ball rolling by performing his rendition of La Marseillaise by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. This is the national anthem of France. The song was written in 1792 by Lisle in Strasbourg after France declared war on Austria. The Marseillaise was a revolutionary song. It was not only an anthem to freedom, it was also a patriotic call to the citizens to mobilise them for the war effort. It was, in effect, an exhortation to fight against the invaders!
Janice was next at the piano, and played the State Anthem of the Russian Federation by Alexander Alexandrov. This is the official name of the national anthem of Russia. Its musical composition and some of its lyrics were adopted from the State Anthem of the former Soviet Union.
Gavin played Deutschlandlied (which means “The Song of the Germans”) by Joseph Hadyn. This was the National Anthem of Germany. Its music is the hymn "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser" (God Save Emperor Francis). This national anthem has its own unique history. This piece was written in 1797 by the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn as an anthem for the birthday of Francis II, who was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and later of Austria. This was String Quartets, Op. 76, No. 3 (“Emperor”). This piece features the nickname Emperor, because the second movement is a set of variations on "Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser". Next, Gavin played Three Pieces Op 52, No 2 ("Enigme") by Alexander Scriabin.
As this evening’s Meetup was Hari Raya-themed, there was certainly a series of Hari Raya themed songs for our enjoyment! All of us busked in the festive mood, together with our fellow Muslims. Not only did we invite Pianovers to play Hari Raya-themed songs, we also consulted Desiree and Zafri, both of whom are from our Malay community, to further understand their customs and help us in making decisions - e.g. which Meetup to plan the Hari Raya theme for.
The following is the list of Hari Raya songs that were played in order this evening:
- Zafri played Suasana Di Hari Raya by Adnan Abu Hassan
- Teik Lee performed two pieces, Selamat Hari Raya by Ahmad Jaafar and Seloka Hari Raya by Erna
- Gavin played Warna Warni Aidilfitri by Bob
- Chris Khoo played a medley of Rasa Sayang, Burong Kakak Tua and Chan Mali Chan
- Theng Beng performed Selamat Hari Raya by Ahmad Jaafar.
Theng Beng also played 漂向北方 by 黄明志.
Next, Douglas performed his rendition of Sostenuto in E flat, KK IVb No. 10 by Chopin. This piece is used in the ABRSM 2017-2018 Piano Grade 5 examination. An interesting piece of history accompanies this composition. When it was written, in Chopin’s own hand, it did not bear any title or dynamic markings. Whoever chooses to perform this piece has to use his or her own judgement and come up with the dynamics and timing, in a way that makes this a melodious piece to the listener. This is similar to the works of Bach and other famous Baroque music masters. Douglas also played "Cool" by Stephen Wood.
Jonathan played Sonata No. 5 in C Minor Op. 10 No. 1, 1st Movt by Beethoven. This piece has three movements in total and is similar to all three sonatas of his Opus 10 in that it was dedicated to Anna Margarete von Browne, who was the wife of a Russian diplomat in Vienna - one of Beethoven’s patrons.
Yan Heng was next at the piano. He performed "Tonight Stars an Easygoing Egoist (Live ver.) ~ Egoistic Flowers" by ZUN. This song was used in the game, "Touhou 15.5 - Antinomy of Common Flowers" as the Final Boss Theme.
Bing Shao played a medley of pop songs, including Faded, Symphony, 光年之外, 漂向北方, Despacito, Havana and "No Tears Left to Cry". After these, he played his original composition 珍贵 Precious! At ThePiano.SG, we encourage people to come up with their own songs. We encourage people to hone their creativity and share their creations with people around them. Well done, Bing Shao!
Last but not least, Zong Lin, our newcomer, played River Flows In You by Yiruma. This is an especially meaningful piece to him. Zong Lin had learned the piano for a while, however, he found that his interest started to fade, so he stopped. One day, he heard this piece and became motivated to learn to play it. As the days passed, Zong Lin made progress, and he decided to pick up piano lessons again. Today, he is still taking lessons and is enjoying piano playing! He is even happier that he joined us tonight for the very first time and played his debut piece at his first Meetup! Congratulations, Zong Lin, and well done. Keep going! Thank you, Clement, for introducing Pianovers Meetup to your son, Zong Lin!
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, Pianovers proceeded to take a group photograph, before moving to the Open Segment. The Open Segment is the time of the evening when Pianovers jam on the pianos, and connect with each other. This evening was no different. Pianovers could be seen enjoying the goodies and chatting, reveling in the companionship around them!
Debbie (William’s daughter and Brandon’s sister) was so well-loved by many Pianovers that they wanted to hug and play with her. I-Wen and her mum, Jenny, were seen at the piano, and so was Kendrick. Of course, the Hari Raya celebrations were still going on! People continued to come to the table laden with snacks, popping snacks into the mouths and enjoying a great time together. There were just so many friendly chats going around, one could certainly feel the warmth in the house!
As we all can see from tonight’s Meetup, ThePiano.SG has come a long way since our humble beginnings in July 2016. We have connected thousands of people, and have been thriving on kind supporters and sponsors to fund our Meetups and grow the community. We want to continue on our mission to spread the love of music to all and we will need your support. Even modest contributions help us improve the quality of our services and make a positive impact on the piano community. We sincerely appreciate your generosity.
Thank you, Pianovers, for your support. See you again next Sunday’s Pianovers Meetup!