Robert Irvine was born in Glasgow, and at the age of sixteen was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London, where he studied with Christopher Bunting and Amaryllis Fleming. While there he won most of the major prizes in chamber music and solo playing. After leaving the RCM, he studied with William Pleeth and Pierre Fournier, before joining the Philharmonia Orchestra as sub-principal cello. He also worked extensively at Aldeburgh,
forming the Brindisi String Quartet and working closely with Sir Peter Pears as continuo cellist and as principal cellist of the Britten Pears Orchestra. At this time he toured much of Europe with the Brindisi Quartet, making numerous festival appearances and broadcasts. He left the Philharmonia in 1988 to take up the position of principal cello with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, touring extensively. In 1990 he returned to Scotland to take up the post of principal cellist with Scottish Opera Orchestra, and founded the Chamber Group of Scotland with Sally Beamish and James MacMillan, performing and broadcasting a wide range of both solo and chamber music.
Robert is artistic director of Red Note Ensemble, which specialises in contemporary repertoire and has a busy schedule of projects throughout the UK and Europe. He has broadcast frequently as soloist and chamber musician on BBC television and BBC Radio 3, including several live performances on the latter station’s In Tune programme. He is a founder member of the Da Vinci Piano Trio, who play and broadcast widely in the UK, and also performs regularly with guitarist Allan Neave. Robert has performed concerts and recitals throughout the UK, including the Cheltenham, Aldeburgh, Gloucester, Norwich, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and St Magnus festivals, as well as at several European festivals and at the International Musicians Seminar (IMS) Prussia Cove. He has recorded several critically acclaimed CDs, including the complete cello works of Sally Beamish for the Swedish label BIS, and for Delphian, solo works by Dallapiccola (DCD34020), the cello music of Giles Swayne (DCD34073) and of William Sweeney (DCD34113), and the Rachmaninov and Shostakovich sonatas (DCD34034), as well as three further discs with Red Note Ensemble: portrait discs of the composers John McLeod (DCD34155), Eddie McGuire (DCD34157) and David Wilde (DCD34179).
Robert Irvine is a senior professor of cello and chamber music and Head of Cello Studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He plays on a fine cello by Melvyn Goldsmith, a copy of a 1695 Rugeri, and uses a superb bow made in 2015 by Howard Green.