By Jeanine Matlow
Siobhán Cronin wears many hats in the music world. As a classically trained violinist, she performs regularly with top talents and touring shows, from Trans-Siberian Orchestra to Michael Bublé.
As a solo performer in the genre of classical crossover and rock violin, she’s performed in renowned venues nationwide, from Lincoln Center in New York City to the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
A few years ago, Cronin joined the cinematic rock band Starset as their touring violinist, taking her across the globe. As a studio musician, she’s been a recording artist for film and TV projects and can be heard as the solo violinist on the smash hit Netflix miniseries, “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Growing up in Troy, she attended Cranbrook Kingswood Schools where she first discovered the violin in the second grade. “I was lucky to be exposed to music at Cranbrook and in the metro Detroit area that is so rich, not just with the symphony, but high-level youth orchestras,” said Cronin, who currently lives in Miami, but also spends time in Ohio and metro Detroit.
After earning undergraduate degrees in violin performance and economics from the University of Michigan, where she also received her master’s degree in violin and viola performance, she still didn’t know she would pursue music as a career. “I thought I would transition out of it and get a real job,” she said.
Her first big break came from her experience with varied performances like classical rock and pop. “I was always into different styles of music and I had to carve my own path in a lot of ways,” said Cronin.
A fusion of her diverse interests would lead to a turning point in her career when she performed with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “It marked the first time I played a concert of that size (20,000) – and I was still in college at the time,” she said.
“Playing non-classical gigs that fuse classic rock and a huge production felt kind of liberating. I didn’t know a violinist could play with non-traditional instruments like a guitar player and a drummer.”
Known for her stage presence and classical chops, she was able to perform with Michael Bublé and other artists. “Then I picked up Starset, which is the most intensive culmination of what I dreamed about doing,” she said. That’s also how she met her husband, Brock Richards, a guitarist with the band.
When “The Queen’s Gambit” came along, the composer who wrote the score was looking for string players when working on potential film projects.
“He had me record some cues and I really liked the music,” said Cronin, who appeared in the credits. “I was involved so early on; I’m always the first one in line to do something because you never know what it’s going to turn into.”
Being a musician of her caliber may sound like a glamorous life, but it requires a great deal of discipline and hard work behind the scenes.
“You have to practice every day and learn new repertoires. It’s like being an athlete. You have to train all the time. You have to be an entrepreneur and you have to be able to put yourself out there. If you really love it, you wake up energized by it like I do.”
For her, success can be measured in different ways. “I love playing for young people that haven’t been exposed to live music,” said Cronin. “If I can make somebody’s day brighter and encourage a kid to be creative, it’s not about the money or the fame.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent