EDMONTON -- A St. Albert cellist, inspired by her community’s elders, is giving back to them with a gift of music.

“Going for walks every day, down by the river bank here, and I noticed that the residents had in their rooms put signs in the windows wishing people well and words of encouragement,” she told CTV News Edmonton.

“I really felt for them, stuck in your rooms, and I thought perhaps I could bring something back for them.”

As a member of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO), Ronda Metszies would normally be found performing within the acoustically perfect Winspear Centre. But on Tuesday’s sunny afternoon, her cello was set up on a patio of St. Albert’s Chateau Mission Court Seniors’ residence.

Rhonda Metszies

Transit buses churned down Mission Avenue, providing unconventional accompaniment, as Metszies serenaded residents with Bach concertos through an open patio door. A safe distance was kept, and the musician wore a face mask throughout the performance, but it did nothing to quell the enthusiastic reception from residents.

Having been unable to perform for a live audience for many weeks, Metszies relished the chance to bring joy with her art.

“Look how the seniors in our community come out as being leaders in terms of how to deal with things, and they’re the most vulnerable. I thought that was pretty amazing.”

The other part of the cellist’s community is her ESO family. Separation from them, she says, has been heartbreaking.

“The orchestra is like a living breathing organism, made up of many parts, and not being able to connect with each other and with our audiences is very, very difficult.”

She stressed that when they’re given their first opportunity to once again gather and perform, it will be an emotional one.

“I can’t stop thinking about that first day and that first piece together. I don’t think there’ll be a dry eye on stage.”

As difficult as she knows COVID-19 isolation has been for her neighbourhood seniors and friends, Metszies remains passionately optimistic.

“I feel extremely lucky to be part of both the Edmonton Symphony and to live in St. Albert, and in Canada frankly”, she exclaimed. “Somehow, I think those of us here, somehow we won the lottery in terms of where we get to live and perform.”

Metszies hopes to return soon to Chateau Mission for more performances, if allowed. This time, with some of her ESO colleagues or cello students, hungry to share their talents with an audience once more.