Daily dose of sweetness: St. Paul violinist puts on tiny balcony concerts

Not even a global pandemic can stop the music. That’s especially true in St. Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood where a Minnesota Opera violinist has been putting on tiny balcony concerts from her home.

Like other musicians, Emilia Mettenbrink has been out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. In mid-March many arts organizations canceled or rescheduled events in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Mettenbrink missed connecting with audiences so she decided to put on mini performances for her neighbors and anyone walking by the intersection of Portland Avenue and Kent Street. She’s been playing every evening at 6 p.m. over the last month (barring rain or snow). She’s performed pieces by composers like Bach and William Grant Still and dedicated a song to her Minnesota Opera colleagues, who she misses. 

“I love playing for people,” said Mettenbrink, who also plays with the chamber ensemble Sphinx Virtuosi. “And I wanted to share something — some emotion, some piece of myself — with others in this time when we can't really share [with] each other as much as we might want to.”

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She’s heard from strangers who stumbled upon a performance who said they were having a bad day and hearing the music made them feel better. One neighbor said they cried the first night when they saw a couple across the street who were holding each other as they listened.

Sharing music during this time is uplifting and spreads hope, Mettenbrink said. It feels like a way to not give up when things are uncertain.

From acts of kindness and sweet gestures to inspirational signs, these are some of the ways Minnesotans are lifting one another during the coronavirus pandemic.

Discover something that brightens your day? We may include it here. Email it to nyang@mpr.org.