Paul Kelly in Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds


Melbourne Recital Centre in arrangement with GWB Entertainment is proud to present Paul Kelly in Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds at the iconic venue for two performances only this June.

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. What better way to honour them than by sending songs out into the air?

In a new song cycle that stemmed from an idea of pianist Anna Goldsworthy, Australian music legend Paul Kelly and leading composer James Ledger have written 13 new songs and soundscapes inspired by birds. Using the words of John Keats, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickson, 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.

When asked about Paul Kelly, James Ledger told Limelight magazine, ‘Paul is the principal singer, he is the one that has to bring the songs into world – some of the poetry is really profound and quite touching.’

Paul Kelly and James Ledger are joined by celebrated chamber ensemble Seraphim Trio – 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. The artists create an evocative soundscape, laced with the quintessentially Australian vocals of Paul Kelly.

Paul Kelly says:
‘Anna Goldsworthy approached me two years ago about the possibility of doing a show with her Trio, Seraphim. She suggested a collaboration with our friend James with whom we’d both worked before. We started tossing poems, old and new, back and forth and James and I set to work. Long distance mostly, sending sketches between Melbourne and Perth with a few face-to-face, mano-a-mano sessions. We recruited Alice Keath for her distinctive singing and instrumental skills on banjo, auto-harp, glockenspiel, percussion and synthesizer. James fired up his electric guitar with effects pedals, and at our first workshop in July 2018 we sensed a hybrid winged beast emerging from the pages of our poets via our muscles, brains, hearts and mouths.’

‘Paul Kelly melds literature and music like no other Australian musician.’ The Guardian (Aust)

‘Part art music, part poetry reading, and part folk-rock oratorio, it was by turns profoundly moving, playful, and darkly atmospheric’ The Age


Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds
Friday 14 June 6pm & 8.30pm
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (85-mins no interval)
A reserve $69
B reserve $59
Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre in arrangement with GWB Entertainment

Click here for more information and to book tickets.


Di Rolle
di@dirolle.com | 0419 001 068