Who is Helen Ayres?
Hello friends! I am a violinist, teacher and one third of the Seraphim Trio. I was born in London, grew up in Adelaide and found my feet in Melbourne. Adelaide is now my home once again and I while I am here I wish to play and share music with as many music-lovers as I can.
What would you do differently from what you do now?
I guess we all have a life unlived and any thoughtful artist has asked themselves this question a million times every day. I’d probably stop asking myself this question and just get on doing what I’m doing.
Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by ordinary people who never, ever give up. Right now I am particularly inspired by the life of Alice Waten. She was the definition of generosity, having given her whole life to her violin students. As a teacher she showed me how to play as well as I could. She gave me a hard shell but the moments I remember most were moments of love and care.
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’d put a musical instrument and an equal education into the hands of every child in the world.
Favourite holiday destination and why?
I need holidays to be a bit of boot camp to fully enjoy them. Walking through Ormiston Gorge was the most profoundly beautiful holiday experience I’ve ever had. Anyone walking that gorge will feel a connection to land that is only possible within the context of Australia’s First Peoples.
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
We would drive straight from the airport and take a morning walk from West Beach to Glenelg, just for the pleasure of that perfect, bright sand. Lunch at Magill Estate to embrace the wonderful food and view just 10 minutes from the city. A trip to Hahndorf and Bridgewater Mill, followed by a concert (with smoking ceremony) at Ukaria. The next day we would drive out to McLaren Vale for a Coriole Festival performance and equally superb wine performance at their cellar door. We would then crash the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra end-of-year violin party – you will not find lovelier people or better food anywhere else in Adelaide.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished Karl Ove Knausgard’s The Morning Star. This novel is a bizarre mix of banality and spine-tingling horror. Just like reading his My Struggle series, I’m still puzzled as to why I can’t wait to read the next installment of how the main character might put the garbage out.
What are you currently listening to?
The theme music of The Red Notice – my kids are watching it in the room next to me. The last thing I heard this afternoon was my daughter singing The Skye Boat Song while accompanying herself on the harp.
Not comparing yourself to others.
What does the future hold for you?
This week I will be playing concerts with Seraphim trio, violist Jacqui Cronin, violinist Niki Vasilakis and the soprano Lorina Gore as part of Illuminate Adelaide. If I’m lucky I’ll be playing chamber music with my colleagues for years yet – I’ll use a walking frame to get on stage if I have to. I want to teach the violin to as many passionate young violinists as I can. I’ll also be putting on house concerts for the array of talented young musicians currently studying in Adelaide, so that they can prepare for their fabulous futures.
Image: Helen Ayres – photo by Peter Fisher