For a few minutes, only the sound of a red Steinway concert grand piano could be heard in the massive National Stadium yesterday, as a hush fell over the 41,300-strong audience at the Sing50 concert.
Many looked sombre, and some even teared up a little as an elegy to the country's late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew played, and pictures of him flashed on a screen during a three-movement concerto by composer Kelly Tang.
Teacher Saleha Raj, 48, who was there with her husband, said: "I found the tribute very emotional. I felt strongly because it was like deja vu, going through that whole pe-riod of his death again."
Senior marketing executive Wilson Ng, 27, agreed, saying: "I thought it was meaningful and moving, as it was appropriately accompanied with beautiful movements by the orchestra."
The 20-minute-long concerto was performed by Chinese classical virtuoso Lang Lang, who led 50 pianists ranging in age from seven to 52. They were accompanied by the 92-strong Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.
My favourite performance was the Sing50 finale... That was beautiful. When Majulah Singapura came on, it was also a beautiful moment for everybody.
LUKE CHIA, 13, student
It really touched my heart. You could see the passion of everyone on stage. Whether they were singing or playing instruments, they used their hearts to perform. It was fantastic - and very, very Singapore.
MS CONNIE TING, 32, director of B9 Dental Centre
Getting Singaporeans together to celebrate SG50 was a very nice thing. My favourite segment was at the end when we sang Majulah Singapura, when we all got up and sang with all of our hearts. And we meant every word we sang.
MS LILY SOH, 52, who is between jobs
I found the Lee Kuan Yew tribute very emotional. It was almost deja vu, going through that whole period of his death again.
TEACHER SALEHA RAJ, 48
One audience member, Mr Kunalan, who goes by one name, said the show took him back to the past.
The 46-year-old, who works in real estate, said: "The show brought back many memories. My favourite song was definitely Home - I like it a lot. I also enjoyed the rock segments, especially Douglas Oliveiro, whom I haven't seen for a while."
For Ms Lily Soh, 52, who is between jobs, the highlight was singing along with Taiwan-born songbird Tracy Huang, who sang the English song Feelings and her signature Chinese hit, Crying Sand.
"Her vocals were just crystal clear, and she sounded wonderful," she said.
But housewife Lily Tang, 47, who attended the concert with her husband and three sons, preferred the more contemporary pieces such as JJ Lin and Lang Lang's duet, Clash Of The Souls. She said: "I enjoyed the duet because I haven't seen anything like it before but the sound system was not good as I could not hear the voices at times."
The occasional muffled audio did not mar the experience for sales director Kenny Sim, 45, who attended the concert with his 16-year-old daughter Angie.
"My favourite performance was Stefanie Sun's as her songs are very special to me, especially Cloudy Day, which brought back memories. This concert reminded me of how much talent Singapore has."