Robert Espe
  • Instrument Second Violin

Robert grew up in Independence, IA and began his violin studies at the age of three with the UNI Suzuki School in Cedar Falls, IA.  He was briefly concertmaster of the UNI Symphony Orchestra during his undergraduate studies, before earning a B.S. in Bioinformatics, Minor in Music in 2011.

In addition to his work as a violinist, he is also a professional freelance saxophonist, regularly appearing with Turner Center Jazz Ensemble and the Des Moines Big Band, and is an on-call sideman for local and visiting artists at Des Moines’ jazz cabaret, Noce.  He is also a semi-regular horn section member of the Colorado-based, modern funk, roots, and vintage soul band Euforquestra.  He has also performed with numerous musical icons including pop superstar Katy Perry and Motown legends The Temptations.  As a mandolinist, he is a founding member of Choro Moingona, Des Moines’ premier choro ensemble.

Member of the Orchestra since


Most memorable experience with the Orchestra

After an afternoon Youth Concert, I was walking past a group of kids heading back to their school bus when I heard one of them exclaim, "That was so COOL!!!!" Moments like that are worth a dozen standing ovations.

How I got started playing my instrument

When I was two or three, my parents took me to a Suzuki recital. One of the performers must have made quite an impression, as I reportedly pointed up at her after she finished and said, "I want to do that!" My poor parents, looking for an outlet for my boundless energy, enrolled me in Suzuki lessons shortly thereafter. I blame them for everything.

Favorite composer

John Williams, Igor Stravinsky, Kenny Wheeler, Dmitri Shostakovich, Steve Reich, Maria Schneider, Philip Glass, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Other than classical music _____ is on my iPod

Robert Glasper, Radiohead, Punch Brothers, Beck, Donny McCaslin, Talking Heads, Nirvana, Snarky Puppy, Rage Against the Machine