Since ThePiano.SG was founded in 2015, it has been actively bringing together people with a deep passion for the piano. Through various activities like the weekly Pianovers Meetups, Pianovers Sailaway and Pianovers Hours, it has created a platform on which both experienced and aspiring pianists are able to perform and practise together. It is always a very happy moment when the group of Pianovers meets at Piano Park @ URA Centre every Sunday. Each time we meet, we know we are going to welcome an evening of excitement, fun and connection. This was precisely what happened on 19 August 2018.
Before the Meetup proper started, some enthusiastic Pianovers met earlier for dinner and bonding. This evening, we welcomed Hiro, Gavin and Gia. Gia came together with her family, comprising her brother and her parents. Dinner was had at the Maxwell Road Food Centre, just across the road from The URA Centre. Upon our return to The URA Centre, we found the rest of the Pianovers already waiting for us. As Yong Meng set up the equipment, Pianovers promptly start connecting with one another. Alexandria had come with her parents and grandparents. Meanwhile, Corrine had brought some goodies to share with all present. It was nice to see Pianovers being so passionate about sharing with and caring for one another!
There is a feature wall – an art installation – that has been stationed at Piano Park. A striking grey and yellow device, it features pins that can be moved in and out, thus forming patterns. Many times, people have walked into the wall, pushing the pins and forming pictures of themselves. Today, however, for the first time, we saw musical notes appearing among the pins!!
Following announcements from Yong Meng, Pianovers resumed their connection and chats. This happened until 7pm, when the lights were turned on and the Mini-Recital started. The Mini-Recital is the main segment of every Pianovers Meetup, as this is when pre-registered Pianovers play for the audience. This is a valuable time for Pianovers, as they have a chance to perform in public. Indeed, at ThePiano.SG, we aim to give ordinary pianists a platform to perform, and help them build their performing profiles.
Grace Pang was the first to go up to the piano. She performed River City Blues by Martha Mier. This piece was compiled in "Jazz, Rags & Blues, Book 5" by Martha Mier, a well-known independent piano teacher and composer. Mier is known for her Seventh Street Blues, found in her songbook "Jazz, Rags & Blues Book 1", as well as the "Romantic Impressions" series of solo piano books.
Next up at the piano was Amos Ng, who played Prelude in A flat major, WTC II, No. 17, BWV 886 by JS Bach. Amos was joining us for the first time and he made his debut performance on this first visit. Incidentally, Amos is going to take his DipABRSM exam soon. We wish you all the best for your upcoming examination! Amos’ friend, Phoebe, was present tonight to support him.
Siew Tin performed next and tonight, she played 安娜 by 近田春夫 (Haruo Chikada). This is a Japanese song with the original title of 安奈. There are several versions of this song and the earliest Chinese version was used as the theme song in the TV series 风尘泪. Another well-known cover version was that by 费翔.
Albert performed two pieces this evening: 落花流水 by 姚敏 and 隨想曲 by 顾家辉. Born in Guangzhou, China, 顾家辉 composed many popular songs which are now regarded as classic Cantopop. From among his more than 1200 compositions, many were well known and memorable TV drama theme songs, including titles as 小李飛刀 (theme song from 1978 TV series of same title), 倚天屠龍記 (theme song from 1978 TV series of same title), 上海灘 and 用愛将心偷.
Chia I-Wen, our young Pianover, performed three pieces tonight: Red Indian Dance, Mickey Waltz and March of the Little Bears. I-Wen was sick and Jenny, her mum, had informed Yong Meng that she would not be able to make it for the Meetup. However, I-Wen kept asking to attend and perform for everyone. We were all surprised and touched by little I-Wen’s passion, and she received a resounding applause from all of us.
Gavin Koh played Jason's Song by William Joseph, whose musical journey started when he played at a charity event and met David Foster. Foster loved Joseph’s playing and they started writing songs together. These songs were featured the following year in Joseph’s album called 2004’s Within. Joseph has come a long way. When he was only eight, he won a full music scholarship. This scholarship offered by the Boys Clubs of America gave him the opportunity to study piano with renowned Russian pianist Stella Saperstein.
Gia played Kataware Doki by Radwimps. This song came from the movie “Kimi no Na wa (君の名は)”, which means “Your Name” and was released in Singapore in early November 2017. It recounts the story of two high school students: A girl in rural Japan and a boy in Tokyo. They swap bodies and this led to a romance story intertwined with time-travel and adventures.
This movie premiered at the Anime Expo 2016 convention in Los Angeles in July 2016 and in Japan in August 2016. Its animation and play with emotions earned the respect of critics and it became a commercial success. "Your Name" became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time in Japan. Following its success, the producers are putting together a live-action remake.
Teik Lee performed a mashup of two pieces this evening: Zombie by Dolores O'Riordan and Apologise by Ryan Tedder. Teik Lee gave a riddle to everyone present. He did not announce the names of the songs he would play, leaving the audience to guess them after he had finished his performance. Teik Lee jokingly added that the first piece was somewhat related to the Seventh Month; he was alluding to the ongoing Hungry Ghost Festival. It is always fun to have quizzes during Pianovers Meetup, to liven up the mood and make the performance more interesting.
Yap Huan Ching played Ninette's Musette by George Nevada. This song is included in the ABRSM Piano 2017-2018 Grade 4. It was originally compiled in Romantic Impressions, which is an impressive collection of Nevada’s compositions arranged for solo Piano, published in 1978.
Cherelle Wong was up at the piano next and she performed "Hero" by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff. This song was released in 1993 and it has remained one of Carey’s most performed pieces. This is because many fans relate to the content and meaning in the song. Because of continued fan requests, Carey still performs this song till today, and it is regarded by many as her signature song. Incidentally, "Hero" was the subject of plagiarism cases. These happened soon after the song was released and were filed by Christopher Selletti and Rhonda Dimmie.
Jennice Ong Hui Yi delighted the audience with her rendition of "The Clown, Op. 39, No. 20" by Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky. After that, Jennice played "Berceuse" by Stephen Heller and "Akvareller, Op. 19, No. 1, Elegie" by Niels Wilhelm Gade.
Gade was a Danish composer and regarded as the most important Danish musician of his time. In his earlier days, he submitted his first symphony to be performed in Copenhagen but was rejected. Not wanting to give up, he sent it to Felix Mendelssohn, who viewed the composition positively. Mendelssohn conducted it in Leipzig in March 1843. The performance was well-received. Then, Gade made his way to Leipzig and taught there. He also worked as an assistant conductor at Gewandhaus Orchestra, and befriended Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann and became acquainted with Cornelius Gurlitt. As time passed, Mendelssohn came to have an important influence on his music. When Mendelssohn passed away in 1847, Gade was appointed as chief conductor of Gewandhaus Orchestra. Do you know that Gade was the teacher of Edvard Grieg?
Alexandria Tan played two pieces this evening: Dans la Foret Lointaine (“In the Distant Forest”) and When The Saints Go Marching In. This was Alexandria’s first attendance at Pianovers Meetup. It was also her debut performance! There was a slight hiccup during her performance, but everyone cheered her on and she received loud applauses from fellow Pianovers. She revealed a smile when told that she now has a fan club here. Great effort, Alexandria! We certainly want to hear more from you!
Next on the list was a duet by Teh Yuqing and Jeremy Foo. They played Sonata for Piano Four Hands in D major, Op. 6, 1st Movt by Beethoven. During his lifetime, Beethoven wrote a total of 32 sonatas, which were considered "The New Testament" of music, compared to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier being "The Old Testament". Beethoven’s sonatas are often heard during both private and public performance, and are known to form "a bridge between the worlds of the salon and the concert hall”!
Jonathan Lam went up to the piano next and played Tales of an Old Grandmother, Op. 31, No. 1 and No. 2 by Sergei Prokofiev. This piece was composed in 1918 and comprised four movements: Moderato, Andantino, Andante assai and Sostenuto. When listeners hear this piece, they feel like they are listening to an old grandmother recounting stories to her grandson, who is listening intently. This piece is certainly one that evokes nostalgia.
Hiro came up next and delighted the audience with Étude, Op. 10, No. 5 (Black Keys) by Chopin. This song features rapid playing of the black keys by the right hand. Interestingly, this piece is known as the "Black Key Étude" as its right-hand part is entirely on black keys, except for one note. In 2017, Artur Cimirro recorded the first complete arrangement in double notes, which was first published in 1922. This song was also given a modern treatment in Jay Chou’s 2007 "The Secret" movie. This song was part of the Piano Battle scene, which saw the pianist play the Black Keys first, followed by a transposed all-white-keys version.
John was up next and he played Eine kleine Nachtmusik, 1st Movt by Mozart. This is a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble. "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" is a German name and it means "a little serenade". There is no recorded history about this piece. All that is known is that this serenade, like most of Mozart’s other pieces, was commissioned by somebody. Unfortunately, the origin and the date of the first performance are not known. Although this work was written in 1787, it was not published until 40 years later, long after Mozart had passed away. Today, this piece is widely performed and recorded.
Charlotte played Arabesque, Op. 100, No. 2 by Johann Friedrich Franz Burgmüller. During his lifetime, Burgmüller wrote a total of 25 etudes for the piano. Usually, new pianists do not fancy finger technical exercises. However, in Burgmüller's 25 Etudes, the compositions inspire creativity in the players. This makes playing interesting and fun and pianists are willing to do the exercises. This evening, Charlotte decided to perform impromptu for us. We really loved Charlotte’s enthusiasm and needless to say, we are very happy to have such a passionate Pianover amongst us! We hope to hear Charlotte perform for us again soon.
Following the end of the Mini-Recital, we moved into the Open Segment and took the customary group photograph first. Pianovers then continued to interact, exchange ideas, bond, and jam on both of the pianos. Not only does the Meetup bring together piano lovers, it helps to build a cohesive community and strengthen the Singapore spirit. In fact, some Pianovers stayed even longer, well after the lights at The URA Centre had been switched off.
Here, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Siew Tin and Albert for always so kindly helping to dismantle the equipment after the Meetups. Thank you once again, Siew Tin and Albert!