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Water Pushes Sand (2015)

Ex. 1 "Joy at the Sunrise" (4:47)
Ex. 2 "Water Pushes Sand" (3:09)


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 colourful collage of winds, piano and percussion. The ten-piece big band fuses traditional Sichuan melodies and rhythms with modern jazz improvisation to create a wild intercultural celebration. With dramaturgy and direction from Tamara Saulwick and video shot on location in Chengdu, Water Pushes Sand  evokes the tea-houses, streets, and rivers of Sichuan.


ZHENG Sheng Li 郑胜利 (Voice / Changing Faces 歌手 / 变脸表演)
SHI Lei 石磊 (Bamboo Flute 笛子)
ZHOU Yu 周宇 (Suona / Chinese Violin / Bamboo Flute 唢呐 / 板胡 / 笛子)
Timothy O’DWYER (Saxophones 萨克管)
Peter KNIGHT (Trumpet / Laptop Electronics 小号)
ZHOU Tao Tao 周桃桃 (Gu Zheng 古箏)
Erik GRISWOLD (Piano 钢琴)
Vanessa TOMLINSON (Percussion 打击乐器)
ZHONG Kai Zhi 钟开志 (Percussion 打击乐器)
Samuel PANKHURST (Contrabass 低音提琴)


Aria Award Finalist, Best Jazz Album, 2017.

APRA AMCOS Art Music Award Finalist, Jazz Work of the Year, 2016.


“a masterful musical montage...full of fascinating juxtapositions...the musicians…juggle ancient and contemporary disciplines to create something startlingly new.” - Jessica Nicholas, Sydney Morning Herald

“a liberating performance showing the beauty and strength of two cultures intertwining” - Victoria Mantynen, Planet Arts

“a meaningful step towards unpacking the possibilities that exist in Asian-Australian orchestral collaboration.” - Nithya Iyer, Peril Magazine

“This is edgy work. This is not everyone’s cup of tea. But make no mistake: this is genius.” - Tracey Korsten, Glam Adeliade

“Folky and melodic to urbane and chaotic, it was a delightful and rewarding experience for the rapturous audience…a fine example of all that is possible when art and those who practice it are given the great gift of time to develop deep and generous relationships.” - Kristian Pithie, Performing Arts Hub

Performance History

• Commissioned by the Australian Art Orchestra. 

• Premiered 2 October 2015 at OzAsia Festival, Adelaide.

• Recorded by Australian Art Orchestra for release by Jazzhead, 2017.

• Featured on a New Waves podcast, Australian Broadcast Commission, 2017.

• Premiered by Australian Art Orchestra at OzAsia Festival, Adelaide, 2 & 3 October 2015.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Melbourne Festival, 9-10 October 2015.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Darwin Festival, 17 August 2017.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Jazzlab, Melbourne, 22 August 2017.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centre, Canberra, 23 August 2017.

• Australian Art Orchestra at DueWest Festival, Melbourne, 24 August 2017.

• Australian Art Orchestra at MONA, Hobart, 26 August 2017.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Zhenghuo Art Centre, Chengdu, 22 October 2019.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Shanghai International Arts Festival, 23-24 October 2019.

• Australian Art Orchestra at Shaanxi Grand Theatre, Xi’an, 26 October 2019.

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