Robert Elder was born and raised in Westfield, NJ, where in third grade, he started violin lessons, originally as an excuse to leave class. Shortly there after, he began studying privately. When in the ninth grade, he attended a viola recital by the renowned virtuoso Emanuel Vardi. He became instantly enamored with the instruments’ sonority, and switched to the viola. The following year, Robert began studying with Vardi and enrolled in Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. Two years later, he was accepted into the M.S.M. Conservatory. Robert received his Bachelor of Music degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. While studying at T.U., he served as principal violist with the Haddonfield and Bridgeton Symphonies, in NJ, and played the viola da gamba and vielle with the Temple University Early Music Ensemble. Robert went on to earn a Master of Music degree from Ball State University in Muncie, IN, where he was the winner of the 1999-2000 Graduate Concerto Competition.
In addition to Vardi, Robert’s teachers have included Leonard Davis, former principal violist with the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Mogill, former associate principal with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Paul Frankenfeld, assistant principal with the Cincinnati Symphony. Robert has served on the faculty in capacities including viola instructor, chamber ensemble coach, conductor, and instructor of conducting at the Interlochen Center for the Arts (MI), the Hartwick College Summer Music Festival (NY), and the Encore Music Camp of Pennsylvania. Summer festivals in which he has been a participant are the International Congress of Strings (NY), the American String Teachers Association (NJ), and the Down East Chamber Music Center (ME). Other orchestras of which Robert has been a member include the National Repertory Orchestra (CO), the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra (PA), and the Missouri Chamber Orchestra, where he was the assistant principal.
In his spare time, Robert enjoys hiking, cooking, and drawing cartoons.