More than 300 people - aged between six and 85 - responded to a national search over the weekend for 50 pianists to play at an Aug 7 music extravaganza. Each pianist will play on one of 50 pianos, and they will be part of a star-studded line-up of artists, including singer-composer Dick Lee, jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro, Malay rock/folk pioneer Ramli Sarip and Indian singer-songwriter Mohamed Raffee.
Sing50, which will celebrate songs written, popularised or performed by Singaporeans, is organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times. It will be held at the National Stadium and is produced by non-profit arts and culture organisation The Rice Company.
Among the young piano talents at the audition venue Steinway Gallery at Palais Renaissance were Jessie Meng, eight, and Jarell Tang, 12. Both were confident performers who have experience in playing at piano recitals and competitions.
Jarell, a Primary 6 pupil at Tao Nan Primary School, said: "My birthday is on Aug 6 so if I get to play at the concert, it would be my birthday wish come true."
Dunman High School student Marianne Huang, 16, said: "I've never been part of something on such a large scale. It's very exciting. I practise every day for one to two hours, and I hope to be ready for Sing50."
Dr Euan Murugasu, the 52-year-old head and senior consultant of Jurong Health Services' ear, nose and throat department, quipped that going for the auditions felt like "going for exams again".
He said: "Sing50 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It also shows how far Singapore has come in the music scene."
The candidates - who must have a minimum ABRSM Grade 5 qualification - were judged on their technical skills, aural ability, musicianship and sight-reading.
Sing50 creative director Jeremiah Choy, one of the four judges at the piano auditions, emphasised that they were looking for pianists who would be able to play with others. Shortlisted pianists will be notified by the end of the month and rehearsals will start in May.
Over the next few weekends, auditions will be held for the 1,000 choir singers and 100 rappers, while 40 musicians will be chosen to be part of the 120-strong Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.
On the range of talents being discovered for Sing50, Mr Choy said: "We want to be as inclusive as possible, and it's great to have not only Singaporeans, but also those who call Singapore their home.
"The young talents have been amazing so far and it's encouraging to see good pianists in Singapore."