After months of anticipation, ThePiano.SG’s inaugural yacht event, Pianovers Sailaway, finally arrived. On 4 December 2016, Pianovers, along with support crew, descended upon the ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove for the yacht outing that would bring them out into the open sea. What would transpire in the next four hours would turn out to be the event that would become the occasion of a lifetime.
At 4:00pm, ThePiano.SG’s Founder, Sng Yong Meng, arrived with his crew, photographer Ken, videographer Rai, Wilma and Loy from a mobile photo printing company, Casio staff Gregory and their logistics partner. It was imperative they arrived an hour early to set up all the equipment on the Eagle Wings to welcome the Pianovers who would be arriving very soon.
With great care, Gregory and the logistics crew moved Casio pianos onto the boat. In the saloon, there are two CELVIANO Grand Hybrid GP-500’s. Of the two CELVIANO AP-460’s that were to be eventually housed on the flybridge, one was first installed at the berth, for a good reason. There would be a short photo shoot in which Pianovers would have the chance to have their pictures taken with the piano placed right in front of the yacht.
The photo booth vendor, too, wasted no time in setting up their equipment in a corner of the saloon, to allow the guests to print unlimited quantities of photographs during the four-hour sail. Meanwhile, Ken and Rai inspected the layout of the yacht to scout for the best angles for their respective shoots. At 68 feet, the yacht was huge and, taking into account the lighting conditions and the positions of the furniture and pianos, the visual specialists had to quickly find the optimum locations and angles that would create the best memories for the Pianovers.
With the logistics set up and equipment in place, Yong Meng headed for the pre-arranged meeting place, where he found a large group of Sailaway Pianovers already waiting. Surprisingly, a headcount revealed that everyone who had signed up for the event was punctual! Yong Meng conducted a briefing for the Pianovers, who were instructed to form a queue to for the pre-boarding photo opportunity, slated to begin at 5:30pm, in order to ensure smooth boarding amid the tight schedule. Following the individual photographs, there would be a group photograph at the same location, before boarding and sailoff at 6:00pm sharp. Much to their delight, Pianovers learned that there would be unlimited photo printing at the saloon booth. All they had to do was to capture their favourite images and send them wirelessly to the booth computer.
Pianovers were fortunate that the weather acted very kindly on that day. The sky was clear, beautiful clouds were scattered in the sky, and the view of the piano with the majestic Eagle Wings behind it made for a stunning backdrop in which to have photographs taken. Rai captured the scene of Pianovers arriving at the berth, as well as the photo-taking, on video. Taking the group photograph required some careful coordination, but when it was done, one would have to agree it was awesome one. With some standing behind the pianos, some on the yacht and others on the stairs leading up to the yacht, this was a photograph that anyone would love to be part of. Soon, the photo shoot was over and the CELVIANO AP-460 was moved onto the flybridge.
Like Business Class flyers are when embarking on their journeys, Pianovers were greeted with welcome drinks and warm towels as they stepped into the saloon. It must have seemed like a brief moment of royalty for some Pianovers, as they might not have expected this greeting. Once everyone had settled, Yong Meng formally welcomed the Pianovers on board Eagle Wings and the Pianovers Sailaway event. Pianovers were introduced to the pianos on board as well as the photo-printing booth. The Captain of Eagle Wings, CJ, too, welcomed the passengers and proceeded with a safety briefing. At 6pm sharp, the boat set sail. Pianovers Sailaway had begun!
Being piano lovers, it was inevitable that some Pianovers took to the pianos immediately. Others, however, took the opportunity to explore the surroundings they had just found themselves in. Eagle Wings is a catamaran with three levels: the flybridge, the topmost, open-air level where passengers had an unobstructed view of the surroundings and enjoyed the breeze; the saloon, the main, covered, gathering area where meals were to be had and where most of activities would take place; and the cabin level, which housed four cabins to allow passengers to rest. Without effort, Pianovers could tell at first glance the yacht was a luxurious one. Thoughtfully designed and furnished, Eagle Wings exuded an ambience and a subtle air of opulence that beckoned to all who were lucky enough to clamber on board. It was the perfect setting for Pianovers Sailaway!
With many Pianovers busily taking photographs of the surroundings and of themselves with the pianos, the photo booth started to get busy. Sheet after sheet of memorable pictures were printed, however, these were no ordinary photographs! Upon inspection, it was revealed that while the 4R sheets were in portrait mode, the photographs were really printed in a square. The images printed occupied the top half of the sheets, with the bottom half proudly displaying the name of the event, Pianovers Sailaway, along with a picture of the sea with a yacht. This idea was the brainchild of Yong Meng, who hoped that this little momento would serve to remind each and every Pianover of the wonderful moments spent on Eagle Wings. Pianovers Sailaway would truly be an experience to be savoured, long after the event was over.
With pianos at the heart of the Pianovers Sailaway, there was no doubt most of the attention during the evening centred on these musical instruments. From the four pianos on the two decks came enchanting pieces of music. If listening to the compositions at the weekly Pianovers Meetups was a great experience, enjoying the same pieces in cool, airconditioned comfort on board a luxurious yacht out on the high seas was a truly mind-blowing one. Zensen, a Pianover who had appeared in the previous Pianover Meetups, even brought along his pianica to accompany the tunes played on the piano. Those who were fortunate enough to be present and heard at first hand the high-quality sounds of the top-end piano models, felt that it was the right choice to have Casio provide the digital pianos for the event.
We had some Pianovers, who, apart from attending the regular Pianovers Meetups at the URA Centre, supported the Pianovers Sailaway. Among those present were Jerome, Elyn, Chris, Gee Yong, Zensen, Lorraine, Xi Kun, Junn and Julia. Romance was in the air as Jim and his wife, Xuefen, participated in this event as part of their wedding anniversary celebrations. We are beyond doubt that this outing, along with the romantic ambience, was befitting of the occasion and was the highlight of their big moment. Another couple present was Vanessa and her boyfriend, Mitchell. The couple truly enjoyed each other’s company, amidst the balsamic sea breeze and beautiful scenery.
Eric brought his wife and daughter along for this event. The trio spent a fabulous evening, bonding as a family in an unusual way. Eric also used the event to inspire her daughter to play the piano. Together with Karen, Cynthia also came with her daughter, Yu Tong, whom she hoped would be inspired to perform more often. Junn, another Meetups regular, came with a group of three friends. Over wine and music, the group bonded and strengthened their friendship. Mark brought his student Cai Ping for this outing, which saw both teacher and student spend their evening in a joyful and fun way. It certainly warmed our hearts to see so many people supporting the event!
Time passed so fast that soon, it was dusk. At 6:45pm, all present were enthralled by the beautiful sunset. With the orange and red hues of the sun bathing Eagle Wings in a golden light, the evening could never have been more serene. This was helped by the beautiful cloud formations in the sky high above. Pianovers took the opportunity to reach for the flybridge, where they indulged themselves in photo opportunities that seemed to last forever. While all these were going on, a drone, skilfully piloted by Captain CJ, was making its way around the yacht, fervently taking video footages and photographs of the boat, set against the open sea. A noteworthy moment happened when all those present positioned themselves on one side of the yacht and waved to the drone, exclaiming, “Sailaway!”
At 7:00pm, dinner was served. With such a wide variety of food to satisfy the most discerning palate, there was something for everyone. On offer that evening were wood-smoked salmon platter, blue swimmer crab tartlets, charred broccoli salad, spiced butter chicken, cajun spiced salmon, tom yum bee hoon, assorted fruit tarts and mixed grape syrup. Pianovers Sailaway was not just a musical and sailing experience, it was a gastronomic one too!
45 minutes after dinner commenced, it was time for the Mini-Recital! Rai had the video camera at the ready, directed at the piano, so that no performance would be missed. Yan Yu Tong played River Flows In You, by Yiruma. It turned out to be a fabulous start to this segment. Next up was Junn, who played Playing Love by Ennio Morricone and La Mer. The second piece was performed with her friend, Dorothy, singing along. Those present attested to Dorothy’s fabulous voice, which lent an air of sophistication to Junn’s piece.
Chris played Bunga Sayang from Dick Lee, while Vanessa and Mitchell, the couple, performed a duet on the popular piece Lemon Tree. Julia, who had started attending Pianovers Meetups only several weeks before, ostensibly to get to know the Pianovers whom she would be meeting at this Sailaway event, performed two pieces: Misty by Erroll Garner and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. As she played, she was visibly enjoying herself and looking around her and smiling to the listeners.
Mark and his student Cai Ping entertained the crowd with two duets: One was the theme song for the musical The Sound of Music, and another was Do-Re-Mi, also from the famous musical. Zensen, the gentleman who brought his pianica, played Those Were The Days, a Russian folk song, and Historia de un Amor, by Carlos Eleta Almarán, a Cha Cha piece. Jerome, a regular Pianover at the weekly Meetups, played Casablanca, along with its catchy tune and beat. From the look and actions of the fellow Pianovers, it seemed that Jerome managed to take everyone’s mood to a high! Finally, there was Gee Yong, another familiar face. Despite being the last to play in this segment, Gee Yong ended the Mini-Recital well with 上海滩, a classic yet evergreen piece.
In what seemed to be a case of perfect timing, the Mini-Recital ended just in time for the fireworks. Another highly-anticipated segment of the event, the fireworks would happen over Sentosa at 9:00pm and no one would want to miss it. True enough, just before they happened, everybody reached for the outer deck areas, which would promise a stunning view of the proceedings. The fireworks might have lasted only 15 seconds, however, it was a memorable moment. While some took the opportunity to take pictures for posterity, others simply revelled in the moment, allowing mind and body to indulge in the colourful display of lights ahead of them.
On the way back to Sentosa Cove, champagne was popped, wine was served, and people generally had a good time as they savoured the last few moments of the evening. Many continued to jam on the four pianos, and those on the flybridge had the benefit of the sea breeze, which added an air of magic to the special moment.
At 10:00pm, Eagle Wings docked back at Sentosa Cove. Yong Meng, the organiser of the event, expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Pianovers who had made this event so successful. As he thanked the Eagle Wings crew, partners and support staff for their effort in making this event a smooth one, he hoped that he would see the Pianovers soon again.