Robin Ashwell is well known as the viola player of the Sacconi Quartet, one of the UK’s finest string quartets. With the Quartet, he made his Wigmore Hall debut in 2004, and since then has performed at all of London’s major venues, broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3 and appeared on numerous CDs.
His formative years of study were at the Kent Centre for Young Instrumentalists, where his teacher was Marguerite Wilkinson. After school he studied for six years at the Royal College of Music, first with Ian Jewel and then with Andriy Viytovych as an Associated Board scholar. Whilst at the College, he was awarded all the major viola prizes including the Cecil Aronowitz Prize, and the Tagore Gold Medal, the College’s highest prize in recognition of achievements and contribution to College life. He also studied baroque and classical viola there with Jan Schlapp, Catherine Mackintosh and Annette Isserlis.
With the Sacconi Quartet, Robin has collaborated with some of the world’s finest musicians, including Mark Padmore, Pekka Kuusisto, Melvyn Tan, Guy Johnston, Alasdair Beatson, Tom Poster, Bellowhead’s Jon Boden and actor Timothy West, and has premiered works by Jonathan Dove, John McCabe, Graham Fitkin, György Kurtág, Paul Patterson, Simon Rowland-Jones, Robin Holloway, John Metcalf and Alun Hoddinot.
Robin has made many recordings, including five CDs on the Sacconi Records label and three world-premiere CDs of works by Dove, Fitkin and McCabe for Signum Records. He has performed alongside his quartet colleagues on Paul McCartney’s 2009 hit Come Home, Rox’s 2010 hits My Baby Left Me and No Going Back, and the penultimate Poirot episode The Labours of Hercules. He has performed concertos by Walton, Berlioz, Mozart and Elis Pehkonen, and last year he collaborated with Roger Chase, Garfield Jackson, Yukiko Ogura, Douglas Paterson and Andriy Viytovych in a concert of viola-ensemble music entitled Viola Invasion.
Robin combines his work in the quartet with a love for and dedication to teaching. He is Head of Strings at Westminster School, teaches at Sevenoaks School and privately, and coaches chamber music at the Royal College of Music. He is indebted to Ellen Solomon, whose beautiful Sacconi viola of 1934 he is privileged to play, and Simon Rowland-Jones, whose guidance over the last few years has been invaluable.