Twenty-two people turned up, and we had a really fun afternoon. The piano playing was in a way secondary to the whole event. It was more an excuse to get some people together to have a good natter, some good food, and also some music.
There was a rather eclectic mix of non-musicians (some close friends of mine), classical pianists, a jazz pianist, and a violinist. The range of ‘real’ occupations was interesting. They included piano tech, piano dealer, economist, computer scientist (ex-academic), mechanical engineer (academic), music teacher, professional musician, IT project manager, HR officer, IT systems analyst, marketing executive, student (forensic science), school teacher, finance director, IT sales rep, and lawyer.
The professional musician was the violinist, Lynette Seah, co-leader of the Singapore Symphony. She was kind enough to attend, and was thoroughly delightful. She even obliged with a couple of short excerpts from Bach and Bruch. Sadly the cheap violin and shrill steel strings were not up to scratch. Lynette said that she would have gladly brought her own violin if I had told her that she had to play for her lunch!
The caterer arrived at 11.05h to set up the buffet table and start warming up the food. Shortly after that Alvin arrived to (a) fix a clicking damper pedal; (b) touch up my tuning; and (c) change the una corda from 2.5 strings to 2 strings.
Lunch commenced at 12.45h, and people kept eating from the buffet throughout the whole afternoon. For the record, here’s the full menu:
- Crabmeat/Chicken Ball Soup
- Nonya Cold Dish Platter
- Nonya Mee Siam
- Nonya Fried Rice
- Ayam Buah Keluak
- Itek Sio
- Spicy Grilled Prawns
- Ikan Chuan
- Nonya Chap Chye with Black Mushrooms
- Assorted Nonya Kueh
- Lime Juice
Of course, sambal belacan was provided as well. The food was pretty good on the whole. The only let-down was the soup — it was deliciously flavourful, but a little on the salty side. Lynette is no slouch in the kitchen with peranakan food, and she made approving noises while eating. So, for those who want to know, the caterer was Chilli Api Catering, a subsidiary of the Chilli Padi peranakan restaurant in Joo Chiat.
Myself and several guests played during the afternoon. Some were initially too shy to play, but eventually it became clear that everyone was there to enjoy themselves and not be music critics or snobs. It didn’t matter whether you played well or not. Everybody was welcome to have a go.
Now for a few pictures.
The caterer had just left, and Alvin had finished tidying up my tuning.
Right after I snapped this shot the first visitor arrived. It was my neighbour Jonathan with wife and young daughter.
Jon has fantastic facility on the keyboard. I can sometimes hear him pounding out Rachmaninov and Chopin (the ‘Military’ polonaise mainly) on his Yamaha upright. He says he plays loud to relieve stress. 🙂 Jon did a lot to help me relax the guests. He got me, Wzkit and Roxane to play duets of solo pieces with him. Interesting. It turned out that Jon and Wzkit have known each other for many years, since the time when they were members of the Piano Ensemble at NUS.
Lynnette always looks glamourous, even when dressed casually! Clarence is a close friend who lives nearby with his family. His whole gang (plus extras) came over to enjoy the company, music, and food (not necessarily in that order!).
Some of the people in this shot are PW members, but I won’t associate person with PW nick, other than to say that in this shot you see snoopycar, cmk, and Roxane.
I led off the playing (not that I had any choice). Started with two Chopin preludes — #7 in A major and #20 in C minor — followed by the first movement of Beethoven’s sonata #12 in A-flat major, op. 26. Here I had just screwed up (one of several times) and I blamed it on the camera flash popping during Variation II of the Beethoven.
She played short excerpts from Bach’s ‘Loure’ (Partita #3), and the second movement from Bruch’s 1st violin concerto.
And Jonathan was humming loudly!
One of these ladies is the PW member ‘Warus‘. All the PW members present had thought that Warus was a guy. We were very wrong!
He’s great company, and a really good pianist. Here he’s playing Tchaikovsky’s ‘Octobre‘.
Here he was playing Bortkiewicz’s ‘Consolation‘. The microphones in the foreground show that I had actually set up to record the piano. But mild stage fright caused me to forget to start recording before my stint at the keyboard. After that we collectively decided to just forget it this time around.
So how do we finish all this food? The prawns weren’t touched at all the whole afternoon, probably because shelling them would have been a nuisance. So a few of us sat around and nibbled at the food until about 20.00h. Then I packed some to take to my parents for their dinner. We ate some more at around 21.30h (when the prawns were completely polished off!) and then some more late in the evening. We never did finish up all the food.
How long did people stay? Well, Roxane left around 18.30h while Wzkit left at 20.15h when I stepped out to take some leftovers to my parents for their dinner.
By all accounts the afternoon went well. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. I certainly did!
Will there be more? Maybe. I suggested to Lynette that if there is another piano afternoon that she bring her violin and an accompanist with her and play a violin sonata. Well, why just stop at violin, she said. How about having different instrumentalists visit on each occasion? Now that’s a thought, isn’t it.
One more thing I forgot: Norman, the jazz pianist, also played for us. To be honest, I am personally jealous of jazz pianists and their great musicianship skills.