About Kirin


Photo by Lydia Hudgens

Perhaps the only cellist to have ridden a bicycle across the continental United States, Kirin McElwain has a knack for finding cellos to practice on in the unlikeliest of geographic locations. That said, she is still searching for a travel cello small enough to fit on the back of her touring bike. When not out on a cycling adventure, Kirin enjoys a musical career as diverse as her non-musical interests. She recently gave the world premiere of composer Jeff Beal’s ballet, “Almost Morning” at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater with the Claudia Schreier Company. Since June 2015, Kirin has been the cellist for the string-powered indie rock band Miracles of Modern Science, and joined them on their 2015 US/Canada tour.

An advocate for performing both really old music and really new music, Kirin also performs on viola da gamba and was the founding cellist of the Sawtooth String Quartet, a Philadelphia-based ensemble specializing in pop, jazz, and original tunes. Kirin has performed with pianist Judith Gordon, John Vanderslice, Boyz II Men, vocalist Anna Winthrop, and has been featured on Indiana Public Radio, the University of Rochester’s WRUR, Portland’s XRAYfm, and UC Berkley’s KALX. As an orchestral musician, Kirin has been the principal cellist of the Contemplum Ensemble, the assistant principal cellist of the Wayne Oratorio Society and the Opera Libera Orchestra, and has performed with the Southeastern Pennsylvania and One World symphonies. Dedicated to introducing new audiences to “classical” music, Kirin has performed outreach lecture recitals for various community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity in Philadelphia, Pompanook Retreat Center in New York, and the Veterans’ Hospital of Northampton in Massachusetts.

Kirin was the prizewinner in the 2006 Smith Concerto Competition, the 2009 Commencement Concerto Competition, and received the Susan Rose Fellowship for Music Study in 2007 and in 2009. Festivals Kirin has participated in include the Lake George Music Festival, the Music from Salem Cello Seminar, and the Encore School for Strings.

Kirin is a graduate of the Philadelphia School for the Alexander Technique and holds a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance from Temple University, where she studied with Jeffrey Solow. She has a degree in Economics from Smith College. In addition to her work as a cellist, she also teaches the Alexander Technique, specializing in music performance, mindful eating, and teaching people how to walk in high heels without pain. Kirin lives in Brooklyn with her two cellos and her partner, Ellis.