Robin Ashwell : viola

Robin has played the viola since he was twelve, having started violin at age six. Up to age eighteen, almost all of his spare time was spent playing viola, violin, recorder and piano in just about every Kent county group that he was eligible for. For all this, he has his parents to thank: their commitment to his music-making (and his brother's) was second to none.

His formative years of study were at the Kent Centre for Young Instrumentalists, where his teacher was Marguerite Wilkinson. Even since her passing, she continues to inspire him. After school he studied for six years at the Royal College of Music, first with Ian Jewel and then with Andreij Vijtovitch 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.

In more recent years Robin 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, most recently in a “viola-fest” programme with the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra.

He combines his work in the quartet with a love for and dedication to teaching. He is Head of Strings at Westminster School - one of the country's top music departments outside of the specialist music schools - and he has a wonderful class of viola students at Sevenoaks School. He also teaches privately, and coaches chamber music at the Royal College of Music.

Robin is indebted to Ellen Solomon, whose beautiful Sacconi viola of 1934 he is privileged to play, and Simon Rowland-Jones, whose coaching and guidance over the last few years has been invaluable. He lives in the Kent countryside with his wife and daughters, and enjoys muddy walks and playtime whenever possible.

Robin Ashwell