I was one of the dozen or so invited guests to this special concert jointly organised by
The partnership of this unique concept is the brainchild of the General Manager of Steinway Gallery Singapore, Ms Celine Goh. At the Oakwood Studios all over the world, guests can choose to stay in a room with a Steinway piano (actually, an Essex upright piano, designed by Steinway) at an addditional S$30 a night.This would be good for pianists who travel round the world for masterclasses and music festivals, like the performers today.
First to perform is 8-year-old Chen Jing, who has won many prizes in International Piano Competitions (from Kota Kinabalu to Paris) since 2015. She has also performed in ChildAid locally, Carnegie Hall in New York and Opera Bastille Hall in Paris. Her rendition of Grande Valse Brillante Op 18 by Chopin is simply amazing. A few slips notwithstanding, she displays a level of maturity that surpasses many good pianists a decade older than her. Her second piece is Sunflowers by Wang Yu Shi. The nimbleness of her fingers, the fluidity of the music, and the brilliance executed is rare in someone so young.
The second to perform is 8-year-old Tristen Ng, who started playing the piano when he was 6. He has participated and won many awards at several festivals and competitions, and will make his debut at the Byzantine Museum in Athens next month. He also plays the violin. The level of sensivity and maturity in his 6 Romanian Dances SZ. 56 by Bela Bartok is awesome. His touch is wonderful and his fingerwork exudes much confidence. Even Celine, who was seated next to me, was apparently entranced by his performance. His Minute Waltz Op64 No 1 in D Flat by Chopin is perfect, and is of a standard usually only achieved by an adult professional pianist.
My favourite pianist of the day is 9-year-old Toby Tan. He started formal lessons just before turning 7, and was selected to perform the theme song for the movie 7 Letters at the Gala Premiere screening. He has won piano competitions in Singapore and Japan and more. He also composes, and recently won 1st prize in New York with his Sorrow of Love, which he performs today. He will be performing in Greece, Vienna and New York over the next few months.
Toby’s oufit today is similar to the one above (taken when he was younger) – a bespoke suit and a hat. If his appearance has charmed some in the audience, his playing has won everybody over. The medley of Mozart’s Alla Turca by Fazil Say and Bumble Boogie by Jack Fina based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight Of The Bumble Bee really brought the house down. It is animated and lively, with jived up energy and rhythmic execution. Both Celine and I thoroughly enjoyed this consummate performance. Then, he followed this with another gem – his own composition, Sorrow Of Love. This piece, dedicated to his grandfather, is vivid, colourful and beautiful and paints memories like in a movie. I marvel how such a young boy can come up with such an amazing composition. I feel very privileged to have witnessed a preview perfomance by a prodigy. (He will perform this in New York.)
Next up is 10-year-old Jessie Meng, who also has a long list of accomplishments: winning many piano competitions locally and overseas, performed in ChildAid (twice), President Star Charity, Sing50 50 pianos concert, represented Singapore in an Asian Pacific competition and performed in Paris Opera Bastille. She has also attended masterclasses in Italy, Paris and all over the world. And all these she has achieved with only two hours of practice a day. Her flying fingers in the Sonata in F Op 46 No 3 (1st Mvt) by Kabalevsky must be seen to believe. Her Etude in C Sharp Minor Op 19 No 4 by Chopin is incredible.
The finale is the cutest piano duet in the world that Celine has seen – there’s so much fun in their fourhand performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Hight’s Dream : Wedding March. This is a seamless collaboration between Toby Tan (Primo) and Cheng Jing (Secondo).
I really enjoyed myself watching and listening to these talented young musicians perform on my favourite instrument. On top of their great gift, they are also very enthusiastic and creative. I’m happy to see that there are parents who are so supportive of their children’s interests and love for music.
I look forward to seeing more such Rising Stars in the series.