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Australian Art Orchestra

Water Pushes Sand

Australia / China

‘A liberating performance showing the beauty and strength of two cultures intertwining.’ Planet Arts

 ‘A masterful musical montage.’ Sydney Morning Herald

Water Pushes Sand is a major new musical work that sees virtuosic Chinese and Australian musicians reinvigorate the endangered music of China's Sichuan Province to create an entirely new sound world. Traditional Sichuan melodies and rhythms are fused with modern jazz improvisation in a wild intercultural celebration.

Composed by Erik Griswold with video shot on location in Chengdu, Water Pushes Sand evokes the tea-houses, streets and rivers of Sichuan and explores the changing faces of Chinese and Australian culture.

The Australian Art Orchestra, led by artistic director Peter Knight, is renowned for creating work that merges musical styles and cultures in a thrilling way. Australian Art Orchestra Associates Erik Griswold and Vanessa Tomlinson have been travelling to Sichuan for 15 years and their collaborations with musicians from Sichuan have produced three large-scale shows – Chengdu Streetsongs, Sichuan Fantasy, and The Wide Alley – that have toured in China, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  

Arrive at the theatre early and enjoy an exhibition of traditional Chinese calligraphy by master calligrapher Chunfang Li.


Composer & Piano Erik Griswold
Artistic Director Australian Art Orchestra, Trumpet & Electronics Peter Knight
Min Dong bamboo flute player
Scott McConnachie sopranino saxophone
Tim O’Dwyer saxophone
Shengli Zheng vocals/Changing faces dancer
Kaizhi Zhong Chinese percussion
Tamara Saulwick Director
Scott Morrison Video Artist
Robert D Jordan Production Manager
Lee Cumberlidge Director, Insite Arts
Tam Nguyen Executive Producer, Insite Arts
Kylie Maslen Operations Manager, Insite Arts

Supported by the Australian Government through the Australia International Cultural Council, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Victoria.
Australian Art Orchestra supported by