Emma Ayres’ recent interview on ABC TV’s “The Weekly” with Charlie Pickering has been roundly admired and praised. Your correspondent was as delighted as anyone to see the interview and hear Emma’s stories. There is another wonderful story of Emma’s passion along with some collaborative philanthropy which deserves also to be told. The program for last August’s Sydney Musica Viva Coffee Concert reported this story:
“For Emma Ayres, life is music. Whether riding her bike to raise money for charity, presenting popular radio shows or playing cello, Emma’s passion for music is always present. And Emma is on a mission to share music with the world.
Music is life for John Strutt, too. A long-time commissioner of new works and a patron of the arts, John’s embrace of music is as passionate as Emma’s. It’s no surprise that – following their meeting at a music festival nine years ago – they became friends; united by a shared sense of humour, a love of people and a heartfelt commitment to a musical future.
These shared qualities and values have found their most powerful expression to date in a new project in Afghanistan, where Emma is now teaching students at Kabul’s National Institute of Music. In a city marred by daily violence and overshadowed by a constant sense of danger, music provides refuge, solace and inspiration to the children who arrive in Emma’s classroom every day.
Excited by this commitment, Emma began her classes but soon recognised that the children’s eagerness to learn was hampered by instruments that were either inadequate, or simply unavailable.
So Emma wrote to John, telling him about the children whose love for music would, with help, blossom. And, with a verve and speed familiar to anyone who knows him, John set about raising money for the children in Kabul. Three months of emails and calls later, and with the help of Doug Glanville at Sydney Strings, a collection of 20 new string instruments (and one glockenspiel from Optimum Percussion) was on its way to Afghanistan.
Emma describes Kabul as a city where – despite everything – music always wins. And today, thanks to the many friends who responded to Emma and John’s appeal, beautiful music is pouring from the windows of the National Institute in Kabul.”
(Quoted with permission from Musica Viva.)