Known for its warm and friendly people, spicy food, laid back tea houses, and the distinctive twang of its spoken dialect, Sichuan is unique in China. It is from Sichuan that, according to legend, philosopher Lao Tzu mounted a water buffalo and rode off into the sunset, never to be seen again. Sichuan music combines colours from rustic country folk, street songs and the ear splitting cacophony of gongs and cymbals.
In Water Pushes Sand, composer Erik Griswold and the Australian Art Orchestra team up with all-star musicians and performers of Sichuan to create a wild and beautiful intercultural celebration. The ten-piece band fuses Sichuan melodies and rhythms with contemporary Western composition and improvisation to produce surprising juxtapositions of music and culture.
Erik Griswold and Vanessa Tomlinson (Clocked Out) first visited Chengdu in 2000 and were blown away by the vibrant culture and friendly people of Sichuan. With the generous guidance of their friend and intrepid host, composer Zou Xiangping, they returned several times over the years to study Sichuan percussion, folk music, and street songs. Together they have produced three large scale shows – Chengdu Streetsongs, Sichuan Fantasy, and The Wide Alley – that have toured in China, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
With the support of the Australian Art Orchestra, dramaturg Tamara Saulwick, and video artist Scott Morrison, this ongoing collaboration has grown into Water Pushes Sand – a new suite of compositions by Griswold that reinvigorate the endangered music of China’s Sichuan Province and in doing so, create a vibrant and original world of sound.