Nurse Elizabeth Ho has been living and breathing music every day for the past two months. This is because the 37-year-old is among 50 pianists who will be sharing the stage with renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang at the Sing50 concert on Friday.
Lang Lang will lead the pianists in Concerto In Three Movements, an original composition by Kelly Tang. They will be accompanied by the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra. The 50 pianists will also be performing in the grand finale. Ms Ho, who has played for the choir at nursing events and memorial services, is understandably nervous about playing with Lang Lang.
She says: "I'm afraid I will make a mistake. The timing has to be correct and if any of us plays the wrong note, the whole thing will be ruined."
She has been rehearsing the piano scores every chance she gets, even on the bus and on the train on her way to and from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, where she works as a senior clinical educator.
"I'm aiming for perfection. Even without a piano, I will rehearse in my mind the parts I am going to play. I imagine I have a keyboard and will practise my fingering," she says.
Most of the 50 pianists, aged seven to 52, were selected from more than 300 applicants. They will be playing on Steinway- designed Lang Lang baby grand pianos in front of 45,000 people at the National Stadium. The concert is organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times.
Ms Ho says she is grateful for the help that Mr Clarence Lee, who stands in for Lang Lang during rehearsals, has given her.
She says: "When I first got the score, I thought I would not be able to handle it. But Clarence helped me break down the difficult parts so I could understand them."
Mr Lee, 24, who is pursuing his Master of Music Degree at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, says: "It's really big shoes to fill as Lang Lang is famous."
Indonesia-born piano teacher Joseph Frederic says he auditioned to play at Sing50 because he wants to give back to Singapore for granting him citizenship in 2010.
Mr Frederic, 34, who won first prize in the Open Piano Category at the 5th Romania International Music Competition in 2009, says: "I'm happy to be part of the big SG50 family."
Being one of the youngest pianists in the group, Isaiah Hui, 10, admits that it was initially intimidating to rub shoulders with older musicians at rehearsals.
The Nanyang Primary School pupil says: "I felt a bit scared at the first group rehearsal because the rest were so tall and big. But so far, I have spoken to a few other pianists older than me and they have been nice."
Isaiah, who is the elder son of a private banker and a housewife, will be sitting his Grade Eight piano examination next month. He has a younger brother who is learning to play the electone. He says he is impressed with how the 50 pianists have played so well together.
"So far, it has been quite neat. We have to work together to be in time, otherwise it will be messy." He adds: "When it's SG100, I want to perform at the age of 60 ."