You're already familiar with violinist Robert Spates since you hear his violin 'round the clock on radio and TV. He's on countless commercials for Food Lion, Walmart and other national clients, and you often hear him in documentaries on National Geographic, Discovery, and the Learning and History Channels. He's even on the Weather Channel.
Formally trained by some of the best (he studied with the Guarneri String Quartet on a graduate scholarship, and received personal instruction from Arnold Steinhardt, David Nadien, Ruggiero Ricci, and Aaron Rosand, among others), this Maryland native also enjoys a unique stylistic versatility. He is at home in ancient or modern classical music, jazz, many types of ethnic folk music, rock, R&B, bluegrass or country. In addition to recording work and classical concerts, he is in great demand and performs live with many pop artists including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Barry White, Texas legend Ray Price, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Manheim Steamroller, Christina Aguilera, and Clay Aiken (to name only a few!)
In his teens he supported himself by playing bluegrass, and played with a number of legendary artists. His traditional fiddle and mandolin playing is featured prominently on the PBS series The Appalachians, as well as his more formal violin with an orchestra in the score of the award-winning film Paperclips. He appears before the camera in a cameo appearance playing the viola in the Chris Rock/Bernie Mack film Head of State, and in a number of varied roles in the NBC TV series Homicide. He was held over at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and regularly travels to Ireland and Scotland to play traditional Celtic music in festivals there. For years he was a fixture in the Kennedy Center cranking out ballet, opera, and orchestral concerts with some of the world's finest classical musicians.
While on tour in Europe, he met some very interesting Baroque musicians in Holland, who encouraged him to try his hand at using an original Baroque violin and bow in historically informed style.
Robert Spates is Principal violinist and soloist with the Ama Deus Ensemble and Camerata Ama Deus orchestras in Philadelphia. These ensembles specialize in Baroque and Classical repertoire performed on period instruments. He is very fond of Baroque violin concerti, and the Bach Concerto for violin in g minor BWV 1056 is one of the finest. [See Calendar 'Baroque Christmas' Dec 20&21, 2008]. He designs and builds his own high-tech hybrid violins but also plays a 300 year old Baroque violin for his ancient music concerts. Recently he joined the faculty at Maryland's prestigious Landon School, where he spearheads a newly created integrated music and educational program that uses software to hone the skills of young musicians.