Since Pianovers Meetup started in July 2016, it has created a platform on which piano lovers have been able to meet, play and connect over music. Pianovers Meetup is a weekly gathering of like-minded people happening every Sunday evening at The URA Centre, and has been helping to forge a close piano community in Singapore. Here, two refurbished pianos await Pianovers as they gather every weekend on Maxwell Road.
Some Pianovers meet at 5pm to bond over dinner. This evening, we were pleased to have Hiro, Vincente and Elyn, join us and we headed off to Maxwell Road Food Centre where we filled our tummies with delicious local grub.
Slightly more than an hour later, we made our way back to The URA Centre and by this time, other Pianovers had arrived. It was a special NDP-Themed Meetup today, being the session just before Singapore’s National Day! Thus, it was not surprising to see most Pianovers dressed in red tonight. It was going to be a very fun evening, seeing people in a sea of red connecting and interacting with one another. Such is the spirit of Pianovers Meetups, where people are bonded by the love of music.
While waiting for Yong Meng to prepare the equipment for this evening’s Meetup, Pianovers made themselves comfortable. Jackie and Xavier were seen taking a picture, while John, Sotty and Jessica had a great conversation. Soon, Siew Tin arrived and immediately caught up with Albert, May Ling and Lim Ee Fong, who were already there. It is always heartwarming to see Pianovers interacting with one another and it was no different today.
A typical Meetup comprises two segments, the Mini-Recital and the Open Segment, and to kick off the evening, Yong Meng gives a presentation during which he shares what Pianovers Meetup is about. This was precisely what happened this evening, as Pianovers settled into their seats and welcomed a wonderful evening of piano music.
At 7pm sharp, the Mini-Recital started. Gwen, one of our youngest Pianovers, got the ball rolling with two songs, Amazing Grace and The Streamliner. Amazing Grace is a Christian hymn, published in 1779 and whose lyrics were written by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton. Although it is unclear if there was any music accompanying the verse (it may have been chanted by the congregation), today, this piece comes with the “New Britain” tune. The tune came about in 1835, when William Walker incorporated Newton’s lyrics into a traditional song named New Britain.
Next up at the piano was Gavin Koh, who performed Sunrise, Sunset by Jerry Bock. This song came from the 1964 musical "Fiddler on the Roof". In particular, this song is performed at the wedding of Tevye and Golde's eldest daughter -Tzeitel. As Teyve and Golde sing, they reveal their amazement about how their daughter has grown up. Then, Hodel (younger daughter) and Perchik sing and wonder if they will wed in the near future. "Sunrise, Sunset" is often played at weddings. This song from five decades ago got a revisit in 2011, when Sheldon Harnick, the original lyricist, wrote two versions of the song, suitable for same-sex weddings, with minor word changes. For example, for male couples, changes include "When did they grow to be so handsome”.
Next to go up to the piano was Siew Tin. She played 倩影 by 明辉, which was originally performed by 陈淑桦 (Taiwanese) in 1983. 陈淑桦 is also the singer behind the popular 明明白白我的心 with Jackie Chan.
Siew Tin performed the second piece together with May Ling as a duet - 我家在那里 by 刘家昌. After having been a regular at Pianovers Meetup for a long period, this was Siew Tin's first attempt in performing a duet. Well done, Siew Tin! We admire your progress and your continuous experimentation with new playing styles!
Albert played "一年又一年" by 姚敏. This song was originally performed by 姚莉, sister of 姚敏. 姚莉 is well known also for her popular pieces like 玫瑰玫瑰我爱你, 春風吻上我的臉 and 恭喜恭喜. She was born in 1921 and was one of the members of 七大歌星 (Seven Great Singing Stars). Do you know that she is still alive today and is the only surviving member of the group? Albert also played "回想曲" by 周蓝萍.
Rony Ang played "I Started a Joke" by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, and Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees), which was published in Bee Gee's 1968 album "Idea". Some other popular pieces by Bee Gees include: Words (1967), First of May (1969) and How Deep is your love (1977). Rony attended the last Meetup but because his daughter wasn't able to make it, he decided not to perform this piece. Rony’s intention was to motivate his daughter to perform to a public audience. This evening, however, his daughter was around, and he wanted to lead by example.
John played All For You by Lee Jae-hoon, Cha Hyun-ok, and Kim Sung-soo, who are from the band "Cool" which debuted in 1994. This piece is used in the 2012 South Korean television series known as "Reply 1997" that centers on the lives of six friends in Busan who relive their memories of their school days. John plays like no other Pianover. He puts on his earphones and watches a music video playing on his mobile phone before him. As he listens to the music, he plays the same tune on the piano. Effectively, John plays off the music video rather than a music score! This brings “play by ear” to a whole new level!
Joseph Lim played All or Nothing by Steve Mac and Wayne Hector. This song was used during the audition of The X Factor UK (a British reality TV music competition). Specifically it was used as the background during most of the shows. It was great to see Joseph join us today. He joined us in the early days of the Meetup and had been sorely missed. Welcome back to Pianovers Meetup, Joseph!
Hiro played 南屏晚钟 by 王福龄 and 方謠齡. Hiro is a Japanese gentleman who is currently learning the Chinese language. What better way to understand it further by learning Chinese songs? Hiro’s performance of these Chinese songs was a break from his usual performance of classical pieces. Hiro had recently bought a book on Chinese classics. Pianovers can surely look forward to hearing more Chinese songs from him!
Jessica played Claudine by Tonci Huljic. This song was originally performed by Maksim Mrvica. This song has a Chinese lyrical version written and performed by Hong Kong singer Edmond Leung. When Edmond first heard Maksim's performance of "Claudine", he loved it so much that he approached Maksim and proposed a lyrical version in Cantonese. In 2004, they released the fruit of their collaboration: the bittersweet ballad called 信望愛 (Trust Hope Love).
As tonight’s Pianovers Meetup is NDP-themed, there was definitely a section on National Day songs! We had a number of Pianovers queueing to play! These familiar patriotic tunes definitely brought us together even more. The following is a list of pieces played this evening:
- Gavin Koh
- Adrian Huang's medley of
- Stand Up For Singapore
- We Will Get There
- Reach Out for the Skies
- Janice Liew
- Chris Khoo
- Theng Beng
- Sooty Heng
- Teh Yuqing's Mashup of
- One People, One Nation, One Singapore
- Lim Ee Fong
Theng Beng's medley included "Battle Hymm of the Republic", and "We Are The Champions" too. As the Pianovers present that evening enjoyed listening to these National Day songs, we could certainly feel a sense of belonging to Singapore. Well done, Pianovers! Happy 53rd National Day, Singapore!
Following the conclusion of the Mini-Recital, we moved into the Open Segment. This is a time of open jamming, bonding and connecting! This evening saw lots of activities by Pianovers. This evening, we took a very different group photo. Rather than having it taken indoors at the Piano Park, as usual, we moved out into the open. We sat in format in front of the Ministry of National Development (MND) Building, with dovetail flag banners draped down the side of the building.
Following the photo-taking many Pianovers continued to jam on the pianos. More National Day pieces could be heard emanating from the two pianos, accompanied by vocals from the Pianovers! Such was the spirit during that evening! Mr Tan joined in the jamming as well. Mr Tan is the gentleman whom we mentioned in the last Meetup Digest – the silent hero who helped tirelessly with the leaf-picking and setting up of the equipment on so many occasions! Thank you once again, Mr Tan!
It was such an enjoyable night that all of those present could not bear to leave when the Meetup ended later in the night. Finally, we packed up and left, albeit with fond memories of the event.