Since ThePiano.SG fostered a community of piano lovers in Singapore in July 2016, it has been receiving very warm response among Singaporeans and foreigners alike. Whether they are aspiring pianists or simply love to listen to piano music, these piano lovers – affectionately known as Pianovers – gather every Sunday evening at Piano Park @ URA Centre for an evening of musical enjoyment. Over the last year, friendships have been made, bonds have been formed and everyone deepened their knowledge of piano music. Through Pianovers Meetup, we have given ordinary pianists a platform in which to perform and build their confidence.
To celebrate the first anniversary of Pianovers Meetup, we decided to curate a special event. Known as Pianovers Recital, this event would bring together Pianovers into an auditorium in a true recital environment. Performers would go on stage and perform a pre-selected piece in front of an audience.
On 20 August 2017, Pianovers gathered at 10 Square @ Orchard Central for the big event. Owned by The RICE Company, 10 Square is a performing arts venue with a seating capacity for 110. Things started happening as early at 4pm. Our partner, Chiu Piano, arrived with the three pianos. The Schimmel Grand Piano, an August Förster, as well as a Young Chang. While the Schimmel Grand Piano was placed in the Auditorium, the uprights were placed in the foyer. An hour after that, the performers arrived to rehearse on the Schimmel Grand. This happened until 6:30pm, when they had to get ready for the event proper. Although the Recital was not slated to start till 7:00pm, some guests arrived early. They took the opportunity to jam on the two pianos in the foyer.
At 5:30pm, the logistics arrangements went into full swing. The registration counter that would greet the guests was set up by two Pianovers, Bryan Sng and Tan Hui Ping. Cartons of mineral water, for the enjoyment of Pianovers and guests, arrived. At the same time, Elyn Goh arrived with boxes of chocolates. Both the mineral water and chocolates were paid for with a $200 donation made by a kind anonymous donor. Incidentally, it was the same person who sponsored the two electric fans and the power generator that have helped to cool Pianovers at the Pianovers Meetups held at The URA Centre. Thank you very much! We are truly appreciative of your gesture and support towards Pianovers Meetups!
As the guests started arriving, the foyer filled up and many took the opportunity to take photographs with the large Pianovers Recital banner for rememberance. As this was ThePiano.SG’s first-ever recital event, we were truly excited about it and we were even more excited that many Pianovers and friends alike were greatly looking forward to the evening!
Apart from the banner, a large TV screen on-site showcased the various Pianovers Meetups that had happened over the past year. In addition to being a source of memory for the Pianovers who have been supporting this event, this was also a good introduction to guests who were seeing us for the first time. We also had banners of the multiple Pianovers events held over the past year placed in strategic locations around the foyer. They covered Pianovers Sailaway in December 2016, our inaugural yacht event that saw four pianos placed on board as Pianovers sailed out to the open sea, as well as Pianovers Hours in June 2017, in which Pianovers enjoyed piano music in a beautiful restaurant setting.
As the foyer gradually filled up, the two upright pianos were put to good use by enthusiastic pianists. Music filled the air as everybody got ready for an enjoyable evening. As guests mingled and chatted with one another in between taking photographs and having fun jamming, excitement was clearly in the air. Some of the guests were family members, loved ones and friends who came to support the performers. Some were members of the public who came to join in the celebration and to support the aspiring pianists.
At 6:30pm, the doors to the Auditorium were opened and guests started to fill the venue. Bryan and Hui Ping assisted with the registration and verification via QR codes, which had been emailed to the guests prior to the event. Guests were presented with the Programme Notes and a postcard by Chiu Piano, which featured a Schimmel grand piano. While the audience was getting ready for an entertaining evening ahead, the performers were themselves getting excited at the backstage.
At 7:00pm, the Recital got off to a start. Yong Meng went up on stage to thank everyone present for their support for the aspiring pianists. With the aid of a slide show on the screen, he shared with them what Pianovers Meetup is all about and how we have all grown to become part of a community and part of a big family of piano lovers.
We warmly welcomed the latest member and supporter of our community, Chiu Piano, acknowledging their kind sponsorship of the 3 pianos seen tonight. Yong Meng invited Nicholas Chiu of Chiu Piano to address the crowd. As pioneers of Singapore's piano industry, Chiu Piano's instruments have found their way into countless households and institutions here and continue to delight and educate with an uncompromising focus on quality. They are a family-run business that many grew up with and continue to remain an institution in the piano community. This evening, we were very honoured to have it's fourth generation with us - Nicholas Chiu.
It was especially heartening to have had the Chiu family fully present with us at 10 Square before the start of this event to lend us their support! We at ThePiano.SG are grateful that Chiu Piano shares and supports our vision of connecting people in the community. In particular, tonight's Pianovers Recital was an opportunity that allowed aspiring pianists a platform to perform on, and we were happy to have had Chiu Piano to share the occasion with us! Thank you once again, Nicholas, for graciously providing the pianos that evening!
15 minutes into the start of the programme, the Recital proper started. In a departure from the usual recital, where formality rules the performance, Pianovers Recital was less formal. Rather, it followed the tradition of a Pianovers Meetup. Here, Yong Meng went up to on stage after every piece to describe the history of the piece, as a form of education for the guests present.
The first to appear on stage was Yu Teik Lee, who performed the piece, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. This piece was written in 1967 and credited to Frankie Valli. Since its debut, it has attracted more than 200 cover versions. It has also been used in the plots of some films, such as when the lead characters sang the songs in the movies. In 2000, Hong Kong singer Leon Lai did a Cantonese version in his album Beijing Station. This was followed thirteen years later, during which Korean girl band Girls’ Generation performed their version of this song during their Japan 2nd Tour known as “Girls & Peace”.
Next up was Desiree Abdurrachim, a Pianover who found Pianovers Meetup fairly recently. She performed Prelude in G Flat Major Op. 23 No. 10, composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. This piece was composed in 1903 and is part of Rachmaninoff’s Ten Preludes, Op. 23. This set includes the famous Prelude in G Minor and is part of the full suite of 24 preludes in all the major and minor keys. Desiree migrated to Singapore not long ago and has been attending the Meetups regularly.
Pek Siew Tin was the third performer to go on stage. She performed 牧羊曲. This piece was written in 1981 and was notable for its use in the Chinese movie 少林寺. Siew Tin is an adult beginner and has to be lauded for her efforts in diligently taking lessons. She first joined us in Pianovers Meetup #15 at Orchard Central and has attended almost every session thereafter. Currently, she has 38 performances under her belt! We are all very proud of Siew Tin’s achievements!
Cai Ping and Li Ying were the next to perform. The duo performed "Eyes On Me" by Nobuo Uematsu, used in the video game developed for Playstation, Final Fantasy VIII. This was the first song in video game history ever to win an award at the 14th Annual Japan Gold Disc Awards. This song was performed by 王菲 (Faye Wong), interestingly, with an orchestra.
Following Cai Ping and Li Ying was another duo, Mark Sim and Wynn, who performed "Marches Militaire in D Major, D. 733, Op. 51 No. 1", composed by Franz Schubert. This Opus has a total of Three Marches Militaires and appears in march form written for piano four-hands. Not only is this March the more well-known among the three, it is also considered to be one of Schubert’s most famous compositions.
Jenny Soh came up next, with her rendition of Butterfly Lovers from He Zhanhao and Chen Gang. This piece was written in 1958 for the violin and orchestra, and used in 梁祝, one of China’s Four Great Folktales (中国四大民间传说). Apart from 梁祝, the set also comprises Legend of the White Snake (白蛇传), Lady Meng Jiang (孟姜女哭长城) and The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid (牛郎织女).
Our first child performer appeared on stage for an interesting performance. She was Chia I-Wen, daughter of Jenny Soh. With the accompaniment of Mum, I-Wen performed Going On A Picnic. We are very fortunate to have had such a young Pianover with us and by the same token, we also happy that I-Wen is able to play the piano at such a young age! When she finished the performance, I-Wen did a high-five with her mum and left the stage, but not before doing a very cute curtsy for all.
Julia Goh performed Somewhere In Time, composed by John Barry. This song was featured in the 1980 romantic science-fiction movie by the same title, about a relationship that transcends time and space. This movie stars Christopher Reeve, well-known for his role as Superman. Very unfortunately, Reeve was thrown from a horse in 1995 in a freak accident. Following that episode, he was confined to a wheelchair and required a portable ventilator, till he passed away in 2004.
Next on stage was Gladdana Hu, who performed her own composition, Waves of Clouds, 云之浪. This piece was the only one this evening that was an original composition from the performer. Gladdana shared with us that this piece was inspired by ancient Chinese music and meditation. At ThePiano.SG, we occassionally have the fortune of enjoying such original works. Composing one’s own music is true evidence of one’s passion and we support Pianovers in their composition journeys all the way! Gladdana had many friends in the midst of attendees that evening. Like us, they were very proud of her performing her own works on stage for all to enjoy!
Next, Karen Aw took to the stage with Sonata in G, K. 283 1st Movt, Allegro, a 1774 composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was a child prodigy, having written his first piece at the tender age of five - "Andante in C, K1a". He went on to compose a total of 18 sonatas for solo piano, 6 sonatas for piano four hands, as well as 1 sonata for two pianos. There are two types of piano duets where two players can perform together: four hands and piano duo. When two performers use the same piano, we term the duet “four hands”. When they perform on separate pianos, they form a “piano duo”.
The last piece we heard before the intermission was performed by Isao Nishida. Isao performed Through The Eyes of Love (a theme from the 1978 film Ice Castles), from Marvin Hamlisch. In this movie, Lexie became blind due to a skating accident. The lyrics described the strong will in her to fulfill her dreams despite her blindness. She was given great help by her boyfriend who helped her to overcome her lack of sight by looking “through the eyes of love”.
Following this piece was a 10-minute intermission. During this period, some attendees went up to the stage to try their hands at the grand piano. Some even had photos taken for posterity. Outside the Auditiorium, people were socialising and taking photographs. Photo-taking was happening in full force, as shots with family members, loved ones, friends and supporters were snapped with the large banner featuring Pianovers Recital in the background. As people jammed at the two pianos, drinks and chocolates were given out.
When it was time to return to the Recital, the audience was greeted by Asher Seow, who performed Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49 No. 2, 1st Movt by Ludwig van Beethoven. This was part of a set of 32 piano sonatas and was considered as one of the most important collections of works in the history of music. It was known as “The New Testament” of music, in contrast with “The Old Testament”, represented by Bach’s well-known The Well-Tempered Clavier. What's more, most Romantic period sonatas were highly influenced by those that came about from the hands of Beethoven.
Those who have been to Pianovers Meetups might be familiar with the father-and-daughter team Jeslyn Peter and Peter Prem. Because they always play songs from the Boogie Woogie genre, they are known as The Boogie Woogie Family. The duo played Tiger Rag, which was originally recorded by Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Owing to the popularity of this piece, many cover versions appeared, including one by Art Tatum. Tiger Rag was first performed at Pianovers Meetup #3, that happened in mid-August 2016.
Child performer Tejas Kurmala came on stage next. He performed "Bow-Chicka-Wow-Wow" by Ben Crosland. He was brought to the Recital by his piano teacher Jia Hui, who frequently brings her students to Piano Meetups. Apart from allowing passionate pianists a good platform in which to perform, Pianovers Meetups also gives piano students a real-world setting in which they can play the piano. By going out of the classroom and playing before a live audience, they gain public exposure and develop self-confidence. We are very heartended by teachers’ support for our events and hope to see more piano teachers and their students joining us.
Albert Chan, one of our regular Pianovers, performed on stage next. He played "瀬戸の花嫁" ("Bride of Seto") by 平尾昌晃 (Masaaki Hirao). Albert has played many pieces since he joined us in Meetup #21. Each time he arrives, he plays a different piece. Albert is also a very helpful Pianover, as he often assists Yong Meng with the setting up and disassembling of his equipment. During Pianovers School, held in Zhonghua Primary School in early August, Albert volunteered his time for all four days.
Vanessa Yu and Mitchell Chapman got married recently and many Pianovers attended their solemnisation. This evening, they played Separate Ways, a 1983 composition by Jonathan Cain and Steve Perry. This piece was perofrmed by American rock band, Journey and was used in the 2010 Disney film "Tron: Legacy". This movie was a sequel to the 1982 film, "Tron". Another popular piece by Journey is "Open Arms", released in 1981.
The 17th performance this evening was given by Tea Zhi Yuan. He performed Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13, Pathétique, II. Adagio cantabile, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1798. The composer was only 27 years old then. Ironically, this piece was not given its name by Beethoven but by the publisher. Likewise, Moonlight Sonata was not named by Beethoven but by the German music critic and poet Ludwig Rellstab, five years after Beethoven’s death.
Joshua Peter, part of the Boogie Woogie Family, the son of Peter Prem and the brother of Jeslyn, played Boogie Woogie Stomp by Albert Ammons. Following his father’s and sister’s playing of "Tiger Rag" earlier, Joshua did not disappoint in his performance. Everyone was tuned in to the catchy and entertaining piece. "Boogie Woogie Stomp" was first performed by American pianist, a player of the Boogie Woogie genre, a bluesy jazz style popular from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s. Joshua first joined us at Pianovers Meetup #2.
Last but not least, we had Teo Gee Yong, who performed Bogoshipda (Miss You) by Yoon Il-sang, a Korean composer. This piece was used in the 2003 Korean television series “Stairway to Heaven”. Like Siew Tin and Albert, Gee Yong is a very active and regular Pianover and participates in many activities and events. He is frequently seen jamming with the other regulars. One of the events that saw Gee Yong’s and others’ participation was a recent Malacca trip which the group organised themselves.
Following Gee Yong’s performance, the Recital came to an end, group pictures were taken, first of the performers, then with Yong Meng, as the organiser of the event. Next, it was the attendees’ turn, as the performers and the camera were turned around to include the guests at the seating area. It has been a wonderful of music and sharing, not only for the performers but also the guests.
Pianovers Recital had come to an end. Yong Meng thanked all the guests for their support for this event and expressed his wish to see them again soon. When the event was over, more pictures were taken at the grand piano and at the foyer. Even at this time of the night, the two pianos in the foyer were still occupied by enthusiastic Pianovers and guests. Clearly, the fun was not yet over for all present!
Although we have concluded Pianovers Recital, we all had a very enjoyable event that evening. Pianovers Recital was but a small step in our journey of connecting piano lovers. We look forward to an even better Pianovers Recital 2018!