Robert Irvine was born in Glasgow, and at the age of 16 was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he studied with Christopher Bunting and Amaryllis Fleming. Whilst there he won most of the major prizes in chamber music and solo playing.
On leaving the Royal College, he went on to further studies with William Pleeth and Pierre Fournier before joining the Philharmonia 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 all over the world. In 1990, he returned to Scotland to take up the post of principal cellist with Scottish Opera, and with Sally Beamish and James MacMillan founded the Chamber Group of Scotland, performing and broadcasting a wide range of music both chamber and solo.
He has recorded several CDs, including recordings of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich Cello sonatas, as well as the complete cello works of Sally Beamish for the Swedish label BIS, which received high critical acclaim, including CD of the month in the Gramophone magazine.
At present, Robert is a senior tutor of Cello and Chamber Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. He is also the artistic co-director of the Red Note ensemble, a Glasgow based contemporary music ensemble. With Red Note he performs regularly around Scotland, and collaborates with the RSAMD contemporary ensemble MusicLab.
Robert plays on a fine Venetian cello by Gofriller from 1725, kindly loaned to him by Renagour Rare Instruments.