If you’re an American adult, you’ve undoubtedly heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” thousands of times: before sporting events, after an Olympian wins Gold, certainly at more than a few school functions.
But you’ve never heard the national anthem performed quite like this before.
As Portland State University 2020 grad Madisen Hallberg filmed a rendition of the national anthem on the university’s empty downtown Portland campus—intended to become part of the school’s virtual commencement ceremonies—a stranger happened upon the scene.
What happened next was not only musical genius, it’s a symbol of hope and harmony for a country navigating civil unrest and a lingering pandemic.
Give it a watch for yourself and try not to get chills:
The stranger who joined Hallberg in song turned out to be Emmanuel Henreid, a classically-trained opera singer, dancer, and actor who performs with the Portland Opera Company in addition to other professional ensembles.
“As an African American male walking the park blocks, I didn’t see a white individual or a woman, I just saw what felt like music,” Henreid told NBC affiliate KGW of his thoughts as he happened upon Hallberg and the film crew. “And I was like you know what let’s just do it, just be brave and ask if she wants to sing together.”
“When you collaborate with someone and sing with someone, the most important thing you can do is listen to them,” Hallberg told the station. “And listen to what they’re doing with their voice and adapt to that and shape your tone and your pitch around them so it’s harmonious.”
“And that applies to all of life,” Henreid added. “Make sure you listen louder than you speak.”
Wise words from two talented musicians who offered more than just their beautiful voices that afternoon—they shared hope that’s contagious.