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Emma Ayres on The Viola: A big violin, a small cello, or just a joke?


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As the old joke goes, the definition of a gentleman is someone who can play the viola, but chooses not to. So, what is a viola? Why did all the most famous composers play it, including Jimi Hendrix? And why is this beautiful instrument the laughing stock of the orchestra?

Emma Ayres is a classically trained musician and the darling of ABC Classic FM Breakfast. Today, she lets loose on the viola haters in a classical-music rant that will make everyone sit up and listen. To dispel any final doubts, she will also play.


We love exploring ideas at the Wheeler Centre, and encouraging others to do the same. That’s why every Thursday lunchtime we hand the microphone over to the great thinkers, dreamers and orators of our time.

With a dazzling range of passionate speakers and unusual topics, our soapbox provides a platform for the eclectic, topical and enlightening stories you won’t hear elsewhere. This is the most memorable lunch break you’ll have all week.

If you’re in need of sustenance of body as well as mind, the MOAT lunch cart will be serving delicious $15 lunchboxes in the performance space from 12.20pm.



Eddie Ayres

Eddie Ayres is a writer, music teacher and broadcaster. He was born on the White Cliffs of Dover and began playing violin when he was eight years old. He studied music in Manchester, Berlin and London, played viola professionally in the UK and Hong Kong and moved to Australia in 2003. Eddie is the p... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.