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Laura Seitz, KSL

Meet the mother-daughter duo playing pop-up porch concerts for their neighbors

By Kyle Dunphey, KSL | Posted - Apr. 5, 2020 at 11:07 a.m.


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MILLCREEK — Self-isolation can be, for lack of a better term, isolating.

But since mid-March, a handful of Millcreek residents have been the lucky recipients of their own, private concerts.

Kelly McConkie Stewart and her 13-year-old daughter Vivian have been serenading their neighbors with pop-up porch concerts for much of the past two weeks. Usually around 2 p.m., the two walk through their Millcreek neighborhood — Stewart with a cello and Vivian with a fiddle — in search of their next venue.

After placing a portable speaker on the front porch, Stewart and her daughter perform on the lawn, usually for about 15 minutes, as one of their neighbors listens gleefully behind a screen door.

The performances offer Stewart’s elderly neighbors a much needed break, albeit short, from the throes of self-isolation.

“They’re always really happy to see someone, because they don’t usually see people in their home,” Vivian said.

Some of the venues include the front lawns of a man who recently turned 100, and an elderly woman who hasn’t stepped foot outside of her house in two weeks.

Vivian Stewart, 13, and her mother, Kelly McConkie Stewart, perform for Helen Gygi in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. The mother/daughter duo have been performing concerts to not only lift their neighbors’ spirits, but their own as well. (Photo: Spenser Heaps, KSL)

“We usually call, because they don’t text, and say, ‘Is it OK if we come to your house? We have a little present for you, and we promise to stay 6 feet apart,’” said Stewart, who teaches at the Gifted Music School in Salt Lake City. “It’s always just pleasant to have an excuse to talk to people, even from a distance.

“It’s a chance for us to get out as well because by 2 p.m., we’re pretty bored.”

Sometimes a small crowd will gather — staying at least 6 feet apart, of course — as people biking and walking through the neighborhood stop and listen to the mother-daughter duo. While they usually plays folk songs and hymns, the real crowd-pleaser is “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the theme song to the old “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show.

“That’s the song that’s always the most fun, that makes people laugh,” she said. “They love it.”

Stewart said she doesn’t know how long she and her daughter plan on holding the pop-up concerts, although it doesn’t sound like the duo is planning on stopping anytime soon.

“I don’t know how long, I guess we just kind of think, ‘Are we bored today? Who could use a visit?’”

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Kyle Dunphey

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