Eddie Ayres

Last updated

Eddie Ayres
Born1967 (age 5354)
Dover, England
  • British
  • Australian
OccupationRadio presenter, musician, teacher
Known for ABC Classic FM radio breakfast program, charity work, autobiographical books

Eddie Ayres ( /ɛərz/ ; born Emma Ayres, 1967) is a musician, music teacher and radio presenter. He is notable for his work on the Australian ABC Classic FM radio station, as well as for his numerous charitable efforts.



Born in Dover, Ayres grew up in Shrewsbury, England. [1] He graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and did further studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, where he received a DAAD scholarship, the Royal Academy in London, with the assistance of a Countess of Munster scholarship, and the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. [2]


Ayres was a professional viola player for 12 years—including eight years performing with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. [1] In 2001, he began presenting the classical music breakfast show on the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) station in Hong Kong. [1]

Ayres moved from Hong Kong to Australia in February 2003, [1] living in Melbourne and cycling to work each day. [2]

From 4 February 2008, Ayres began presenting the Classic Breakfast program on ABC Classic FM. [3] In the same year, he taught at the Melbourne Girls Grammar School [1] and taught cello to a wide range of private students. [2] In 2012 Ayres appeared on Big Ideas Talking with Professor Andrew Schultz, composer and head of the school of Arts and the Media at UNSW, and music psychologist Associate Professor Emery Schubert, on insights into composition and emotional responses to music. [4]

Ayres published his memoir, Cadence: Travels with music - a memoir, in 2014. [5] In July 2014, as Emma, he appeared on the Musica Viva channel with an interview to camera: Chamber Music & Me. [6]

On 30 June 2014, Ayres announced [7] that he would be leaving at the end of the year. [8] In October 2014, ABC FM radio's Classic Breakfast website announced that "After six years as the presenter ... Emma Ayres had chosen to hang up her headphones and move on to new adventures." [9] Ellen Fanning had been announced since September 2014 as Ayres' (temporary) successor. [10] Lunchbox/Soapbox at the Wheeler Centre in January 2015 featured Ayres presenting The Viola: A big violin, a small cello, or just a joke? [11]

In 2015, Ayres moved to Kabul where he began teaching violin, viola and cello at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music.

In 2016 he gave an extended interview on The Weekly with Charlie Pickering. [12]

In 2017, Ayres moved back to Australia, and now lives in Brisbane, teaching cello, violin and viola. In October Eddie spoke with Jon Faine at an event at the Wheeler Centre about his music and personal life and his 2017 book Danger Music. [13] [14]

In 2019, Ayres returned to ABC Classic to present Weekend Breakfast. [15] [16]

Personal life

Ayres received Australian citizenship in 2010. [17]

Ayres has been involved in a number of charitable efforts. In 2000, he raised money by making a twelve-month cycling trip from Shropshire in England to Hong Kong. [1] [2] In 2011 he raised over $11,000 for the victims of the floods in Queensland by performing a number of public buskings in Sydney and Melbourne.

Gender transition

In 2016, in an interview with freelance journalist Danielle Moylan published in the Sydney Morning Herald , Ayres came out as a transgender man. He said that he had first realised he was a man during a cycling trip in Pakistan in 2013 in a "total beam of light" moment one evening while watching the film Boys Don't Cry . He said, "I've waited a long time to do this. I suppressed this for so long, now I feel I can't wait." [18] Ayres had written about gender several times in his 2014 memoir, Cadence: Travels with music - a memoir, narrating his experiences of being thought of as a man during his bicycle travels in countries such as Pakistan. [5]


Cadence: Travels with music - a memoir

Cadence is an autobiographical story of Ayres' life and thoughts during his bicycle travels. [5] It is described in GoodReads as intercontinental cycling adventure, music guide, "provocative, intelligent, surprising and funny". It tells the story of Emma cycling his way from England to Hong Kong with a violin strapped to his back. It is also a journey through the music that inspired his. [19] It was during this time Ayres decided he was destined to be a transgender man after watching the film Boys Don't Cry. [20]

Danger Music

Danger Music [21] is an autobiographical account dealing with Ayres' experiences and feelings during his time from early 2015 at Afghanistan's National Institute of Music in Kabul, leading up to his decision to fully transition to male gender. By early 2016 at the age of 49, he'd had a double mastectomy. In his last three months in Afghanistan, after he returned from his mastectomy, he began living as a man, riding motorcycles around Kabul wearing blue jeans and a black leather jacket over a white T-shirt. The book ends back in Australia with Eddie's first testosterone injection to initiate the chemical change to a man. [18] Danger Music was launched in Brisbane at the Avid Reader bookshop in West End on 27 September 2017. [22] [23] On 17 November he appeared at Avid Reader's first Summer Reading Guide launch of the 2017 season with author Robert Whyte in presentations followed by a joint discussion. [24] Ayres wrote about Danger Music for The Guardian; "Moving to a war zone was better than living with what was in my head" appeared on Sunday 24 September 2017, essentially an except from the book (p. 5). [25]

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