Birds have fascinated poets for centuries, not just for their song and flight but as symbols: of hope, freedom, love, communication, peace, luck good and bad, and migration. And what better way to honour them than by sending songs out into the air?
In a new song cycle commissioned by the 2019 Adelaide Festival from an idea by Anna Goldsworthy, Australian music legend Paul Kelly and leading Australian composer James Ledger have written thirteen new songs and soundscapes inspired by birds. Using the words of John Keats, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Judith Wright, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Gwen Harwood, A.D. Hope and others, each poem is its own world - delicate and intimate at times, colossal and soaring at others, with all states in between.
For two performances only, Paul Kelly and James Ledger will be joined by celebrated piano trio Seraphim (Anna Goldsworthy – piano, Helen Ayres – violin and Tim Nankervis – cello) and singer-songwriter Alice Keath to create a unique marriage of electronics, acoustic instruments and the human voice, celebrating winged creatures from the barn owl to the nightingale, from the thornbill to the falcon, from the magpie to the swan.
For the audio version of this event page, click here.
You can also see Paul Kelly, James Ledger and Anna Goldsworthy speak in the Festival Forums on Monday 4 March at 12:30pm.
James Ledger has established an impressive reputation as a symphonic composer.
(Paul Kelly’s) voice - sly and warm, laconic and sometimes frail - may be the closest thing we have to a national one.
Event additional information
Commissioned by Adelaide Festival and Perth Festival Creative Development assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc.
Composed by James Ledger and Paul Kelly Piano Anna Goldsworthy Violin Helen Ayres Cello Tim Nankervis Electric Guitar, synthesizer and glockenspiel James Ledger Acoustic guitar, vocals and percussion Paul Kelly Banjo, auto-harp, glockenspiel, synthesizer, percussion and vocals Alice Keath
Lighting Design and operation Christopher Petridis Sound Design and operation Bob Scott Associate Producer Zac Tyler Production Coordinator Paige Goodwin