Paul Kelly’s song cycle Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds has taken out Best Classical Album in the 2019 ARIA Awards. The singer-songwriter’s collaboration with Alice Keath, James Ledger and the Seraphim Trio – Anna Goldsworthy on piano, Helen Ayres on violin and Tim Nankervis on cello – marks the first time the Decca Classics label has taken out the Best Classical Album category.

Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds, James Ledger, Paul Kelly, Seraphim Trio, Anna GoldsworthyPaul Kelly, Anna Goldsworthy, Helen Ayres, James Ledger, Tim Nankervis and Alice Keath in 13 Ways to Look at Birds. Photo © Kate Pardy

“Thanks to Anna Goldsworthy for planting the seed in the first place,” Kelly said, “to James Ledger for taking me by surprise so often, to the rest of the flock – Alice, Helen and Tim – for their fun and talent, to Bob Scott for wrestling us onto tape, to the folks at Decca and One Louder for their support, to the poets for their words, and finally to Siân Darling for opening my eyes and ears to the amazing world of birds.”

“I am genuinely surprised and thrilled at this,” Ledger said. “Huge thanks to everyone involved. Special thanks to Paul. It has been an extraordinary collaboration and this award is a reflection of that.”

The album beat out the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Nigel Westlake’s Spirit of the Wild oboe concerto and Steve Reich’s The Desert Music, as well as the Grigoryan Brothers’ Bach Concertos album, soprano Nicole Car’s Heroines with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey’s recording of the Telemann Solo Fantasias, all on ABC Classic.

“A deserving achievement for all involved in this extraordinary music project,” said President of Universal Music Australia and New Zealand, George Ash. “A song cycle which brought together this eclectic mix of musicians has been recognised with the highest award for a classical album in this country. Congratulations!”