The Singapore Symphony Orchestra plays West Side Story

west-side-story

On 13th April, my friends and I attended a truly dazzling film and music evening at the Esplanade Concert Hall. We watched the 1961 movie production of West Side Story, with the SSO playing the score, live. The orchestra was conducted by Joshua Tan, and led by Lynnette Seah. Read the programme notes.

6 responses

  1. This is off-topic, digitus. I’ve followed your blog some time ago and knew that you’re knowledgeable wrt piano maintenance. I’m going to get a grand piano and put it in the living room. My living room is not enclosed (free air flow). Besides switching on the heater rod 24×7, are there any other things I can do to maintain the condition of the piano? is putting a dehumidifier in a exposed environment useful at all?

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for writing.

      The most sensitive parts of any piano, upright or grand, are the action and the pin block, and they are pretty much taken care of by the heater bar. The soundboard is varnished, and therefore somewhat less of a problem when it comes to tropical humidity. Having said that, humidity in the tropics can vary a lot. If you are near a heavily wooded area (such as any of the central catchment areas) or by the coast, the relative humidity can get pretty high. Generally, if you can keep the RH of the piano’s micro-climate around 80% (wet bulb) then all should be well.

      As for standalone dehumidifiers, they are of limited use in a room that is open to the outside. They are also noisy and output heaps of hot air. What you might want to consider instead is to use the dehumidify function of the room’s aircon. It’s the mode with the symbol that looks like a drop of water. Close up the room during the night just before you retire to bed, and set the aircon (in dehumidify mode) to turn off after a few hours. One pleasant side effect of using the aircon’s dehumidifier is that the room’s air temperature will drop a bit too! If you do this then there is less of a need to use the heater bar.

      You might want to get a hygrometer from GMM Technoworld or Alibaba.com. Your local hardware store might carry them too. In fact, I strongly urge you to get one. They aren’t expensive, and at least you aren’t ‘flying blind’ when it comes to looking after the piano.

      /B

  2. Thanks for the advice, B. I lived between 2 nature reserves and the RH in my living room peaks at 83% on non-rainy nights. I gathered from your earlier posts that the ideal RH is between 40-70%.

    I got a Shigeru Kawai so I’ve less worries about its action due to the carbon parts. I’m more concerned with the soundboard (external-facing side). Unfortunately RP does not sell full skirt grand piano cover. I’m thinking of getting one custom-made. I’ve bought a small ‘intelligent’ dehumidifier that will only kick in when RH rises above 60%, and will stop when it falls below 55%.

    I’ll intend leave it under the piano and cover the latter with a full skirt cover at night. Of course I’ll switch on the air-con when the piano is played at night so that the air is less humid before I cover it up for the night. It’ll be interesting to see if the RH drops to the ideal range in the morning using this method.

    Under the circumstances, I think this is the best I can do. Btw you are right, switching on the humidifier in an exposed area did nothing for the RH. Even switching on the air-con in an exposed area for an hour only caused the RH to drop from 83% to 77% (didn’t drop further after 15 min).

    • You are welcome! RH between 40-70% is ideal, but really 80% is fine. What you want to avoid are (1) prolonged exposure (weeks, months, years) to very high humidity, especially in poorly ventilated rooms; and (b) large prolonged swings in RH.

      What you intend to do (dehumidifier under full skirt) is fine. In which case consider not using the heater bar all the time, if at all. You will have problems with the piano keeping a tuning if the pin block dries out too much.

      Don’t lose too much sleep over this issue. The wood in high-end pianos is actually better able to handle tropical humidity than people think. A friend of mine has had his Shigeru Kawai located in his un-airconditioned (but well-ventilated) living room for years without any problems.

  3. If RH of 80% is fine, then I think I will do without the full-skirt piano cover. I’ll just depend on the heater bar and redeploy the dehumidifier to the other room where my upright is kept. Thanks for the tips, B.

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