Tugging at the Heartstrings

Meet Rose Crelli, a talented local violinist with an incredible backstory.

Electric and acoustic violinist Rose Crelli is a woman on a mission—several, actually. Between corporate gigs to playing as many as three weddings a day at San Francisco’s City Hall, she manages to find the time to organize charity benefit concerts for humanitarian causes such as the earthquakes in Turkey and the war in Ukraine. She attributes her strong sense of purpose to a unique life story, one that began 6,500 miles away.


Born in Wuhan, China, Crelli was left at a bus station before eventually being taken to an orphanage. At just eight months old, she was adopted by a loving family in Alaska, making the long journey to her new home in the small town of Fairbanks. “I grew up [with] the traditional northern lifestyle,” she says. “A small, one-room cabin without running water or electricity and with the dog team of huskies.” When her older brother began taking violin lessons, she was inspired to join him. “I was a very competitive little sister,” she laughs. “I saw him doing it and thought, ‘I want to do it!’”

However, logistics soon became an issue when her family moved from Fairbanks to the even smaller gold mining community of Dawson City in the Yukon Territories—so small, in fact, that there was no violin teacher. Once a month, her mother braved the elements to drive Crelli and her brother to violin lessons in the closest neighboring city with a violin teacher. “Sometimes during the winter, because the border was closed, she would drive us almost three days round-trip to cross the other border between Alaska and the Yukon.”


Her mother’s dedication paid off. Today, Crelli is a conservatory and classically trained musician who holds four music degrees and has performed internationally in seven different countries. At many of her performances, she moves freely around the space. She plays a repertoire of classical music, contemporary pop, and even R&B covers completely from memory, allowing her to engage with the audience. She has played sold-out shows with stars such as Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and worked with clients such as the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Athletics, Meta, and Rolls-Royce. So, what’s next?

“There are so many things on my bucket list,” she says. “I’d love to perform for the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. I’d also love to give a TED Talk or do a stadium tour with an artist like Alicia Keys.” She also says she would also like to organize a benefit that relates to adopted children, since it is such a personal part of her own journey—one she proudly owns. “The tumultuous and unpredictable beginning of my origin gave purpose to my life, because I want to honor the decision my birth mother made to give me up for adoption,” she says. “The message that I would love to give her, if I ever get the chance, would be how I forgive her for her choice—and that I want to do my best to live my life full of purpose to honor her choice.”