Birds have fascinated poets for centuries. Not just for their song and flight but also as symbols: of hope, freedom, love, communication, peace, luck good (and bad) and migration. Is there a better way to honour them than by sending songs out into the air?
Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds brings six musicians from broad-ranging backgrounds together to perform bird-inspired poems, written by John Keats, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Judith Wright, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Gwen Harwood, A D Hope and others.
The performance features Seraphim Trio with Anna Goldsworthy on piano, Helen Ayres on violin and Tim Nankervis on cello, along with composer James Ledger and singer-songwriters Paul Kelly and Alice Keath. They have created an evocative soundscape, each poem its own world – delicate and intimate at times, colossal and grinding at others, with all states in between. Banjo with pizzicato strings, synthesizer drones with piano and processed guitar with glockenspiel are just a few of the combinations to be heard.
Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds is a unique marriage of electronics, acoustic instruments and the human voice, celebrating winged creatures, from the barn owl to the nightingale, the thornbill to the falcon and the magpie to the swan.
Music: 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
Originally commissioned by Adelaide Festival and Perth Festival.
Photo credit: Shane Reid