Water Pushes Sand

 

Known for its brash and friendly people, spicy food, laid back tea-houses, and the distinctive twang of its spoken dialect, Sichuan is the Texas of China. It is from Sichuan that philosopher Lao Tau, according to legend, mounted a water buffalo and rode off into the sunset, never to be seen again. Its music combines colours from rustic country folk, street songs, and the ear splitting cacophony of gongs and cymbals. It is more like blues or early rock and roll than classical music. Even the opera is hard core!

Australian musicians Erik Griswold and Vanessa Tomlinson (Clocked Out) have been travelling to Sichuan for 15 years, learning about the local music and collaborating with musicians and dancers. Their good friend, composer Zou Xiangping, has introduced them to some legends of Sichuan music, like the last Jinqianban storytelling master Zou Zhongxin. Their previous collaborations have produced three large scale shows - Chengdu Streetsongs, Sichuan Fantasy, and The Wide Alley - that have toured in China, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Water Pushes Sand is a major new musical work for the Australian Art Orchestra and is central to the orchestra's 2015 program under Artistic Director Peter Knight. In partnership with the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, it explores, decontextualise and reinvigorates the disappearing and endangered music of China's Sichuan Province.