On the Job with the Eastern and Oriental’s Piano Man

  • The Belmond-run Eastern and Oriental is Asia's sole luxury train.

    The Belmond-run Eastern and Oriental is Asia's sole luxury train.

  • Pianist Peter Consigliere has been entertaining guests in the bar car for some two decades.

    Pianist Peter Consigliere has been entertaining guests in the bar car for some two decades.

Click image to view full size

Rail tours aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express ferry passengers not only through the countryside of Thailand and the Malay Peninsula,   but also back in time to an earlier, more gracious era of train travel—think wood-paneled compartments, gleaming brass, dressy dinners, and discreet stewards. Adding to the nostalgic ambience is resident Singaporean pianist Peter Consigliere, whose repertoire of swing, jazz, and ragtime classics has entertained guests in the E&O’s convivial Bar Car for 20 years now. Here, he talks about his time aboard Southeast Asia’s only luxury train. 

I’ve worked on the Eastern & Oriental most days of the week for the last two decades. In terms of rail miles, I guess I’ve ridden well over 1,800,000 kilometers.”

Most of the music I play harks back to the golden age of train travel, though of course I take requests as well—an Indian couple once asked for a Tamil song, so I played them a tune called ‘I Yoh Yoh Samy.’ A par-ticular favorite of my own is—no surprise here—‘Chattanooga Choo Choo.’

I always wear a tuxedo when I play and never get tired of dressing up. In the evenings, black tie is also worn by many E&O staff as well as by a good number of our guests, helping to set a genteel tone onboard.

I enjoy mingling with passengers when I’m not on duty. Many of our guests join us as part of a longer Asian itinerary, and it’s always interesting to hear where they have been and where they are off to next. And sometimes there’s a brush with celebrity. The E&O has hosted its share of royals and personalities since it launched in 1993, most memorably Neil Young, Bryan Adams, and Michael Palin.

For more information, visit the Eastern and Oriental Express.

This article originally appeared in the August/September print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Course Work”)

Share this Article