Manitoba violinist grateful for return of stolen 300-year-old violin

It's every musician's worst nightmare. A nightmare that had a mysterious but happy ending for a violinist orginally from Manitoba.

Rosemary Siemens' 302-year-old violin disappeared from outside hotel room in California late last month

Rosemary Siemens is from Plum Coulee, Man., but currently calls Vancouver home. (Supplied )

It's every musician's worst nightmare. A nightmare that had a mysterious but happy ending for a violinist originally from Manitoba. 

Rosemary Siemens had just finished playing a set at an art museum in California when her prized violin from 1714 disappeared. 

"It was really like losing a part of me," she said. "It was so heartbreaking."

Siemens, who is from Plum Coulee, Man. but now calls Vancouver home, was with a friend taking her things back to her hotel room at about midnight on Apr. 27. The violin and her wireless amp were both left just outside of the hotel room while she carried other things inside. 

"I open the door and go, 'That's weird. My wireless is just sitting there on the ground,'" she said. "In that minute or two someone had stolen it. Panic set in." 

Group starts frantic search

Siemens and a group of her friends, police and others, including an Uber driver, started searching the area around the hotel and the Santa Barbara venue where she had played. They looked in dumpsters, pawn shops and along the streets for anyone that might know something about where the instrument was but nothing turned up, she said. 

Siemens has had the 302-year-old instrument, and its 130-year-old bow, for more than a dozen years. And while she was desperate to keep searching through the night to find it, she had a 6 a.m. flight to catch in order to make another show in South Dakota. 

A man who owned a construction company also offered a $2,000 reward for the violin's safe return, she said. The man also joined her and the group she was with for a prayer in a parking lot. 

"I frantically called my mom 'cause she had a violin from university days in Manitoba," Siemens said. "I knew she could drive and meet me in Fargo and drive me to my gig." 

"When I called my mom in the middle of the night... they just started praying," she added. "It was incredible." 

Violin turns up 

Then hours later, while Siemens was waiting in Seattle's airport for another flight, she got the news she was hoping for. 

 "I get a text from my friend at the hotel," she said. "She says, 'We found your violin.'"

Siemens said a man wearing a hoodie dropped off the instrument at the hotel she was staying at and told staff that he believed someone was looking for it. 

"I couldn't believe it... I started weeping in the airport," Siemens added. "The girl at the hotel started crying." 

Siemens said she doesn't know what she would have done if the violin hadn't turned up, but is just happy it's back with her. 

"It's still a mystery in a way," she said. "I'm so thankful and feel so blessed to have my violin back."