Encounters: Musical Meetings Between Australia and China

Edited by Dr Nicholas Ng

Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University

Music is a revealing and significant area of exploration when examining the relationship between the western world and China. Australia, unequivocally a western nation situated in the Asia Pacific, has grappled to define and redefine its connection with the "Middle Kingdom" since the earliest times of Chinese migration. The saga of musical encounters between Australia and China continues to this very day.
Addressing the themes of: music and history; tradition versus innovation; cultural diversity/intercultural creativity; and music and the related arts; this book focuses on encounters between China and Australia from the earliest imaginings and representations to the latest cultural exchanges.
Here, the reader will find of stories of forbidden love, prejudice and deceit, of gestures of harmony and the fulfilment of dreams and wishes. Ethnomusicologists, composers, performers, historians and cultural theorists alike explore the past, present, and future of a long, complex and culturally rich interaction. Their writings, so varied and diverse, celebrate a multiplicity of identities, and present a challenging array of research avenues and perspectives through which to view the Australian-Chinese connection.

Read The Music Trust review of Encounters:

About the Author

Dr Nicholas Ng is a composer/performer and Research Fellow at Queensland Conservatorium. His music may be heard on the radio (ABC), in dance and theatre productions (Australian Choreographic Centre), and as art exhibition installations (Art Gallery of NSW, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art). Nicholas has performed at venues such as Merkin Concert Hall (New York City), 'The Studio', Sydney Opera House, and at festivals including the Chinese Gardens Chamber Music Festival (Sydney), KunstenFESTIVALdesarts (Brussels), Melbourne International Arts Festival, the OzAsia Festival (Adelaide), the Push Festival (Vancouver) and Woodford Folk Festival. Published by Orpheus Music, he has been commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Voices, and collaborates regularly with William Yang (photography), Anna Yen (circus, movement) and Julian Wong (movement, dance, music). He is a PhD graduate from the Australian National University and researches Chinese music in Australia and the greater Chinese diaspora. He curated the festival 'ENCOUNTERS: Musical meetings between Australia and China' (May 2010) and awaits the publication of his first book based on this event. He is currently co-directing ENCOUNTERS: India (9-19 May 2013) while developing two cross-art productions: tunCLOUD (National Film and Sound Archive), and Annette Shun Wah's The Serpent's Table (Performance 4a and Griffin Theatre).

Table of Contents


Emeritus Professor Colin Mackerras, AO

Griffith Business School, Griffith University



Musical Meetings

Nicholas Ng


PART ONE  — Historical Perspectives


Chapter 1      The Gangzhou Yueju Quyishe ("Gangzhou Society Cantonese Opera Group”) in Melbourne, Australia

Wang Zhengting


Chapter 2      Australian encounters with an imagined China in early musical entertainment

Aline Scott-Maxwell


Chapter 3      By the Bund and beyond: Music-making in the Shanghai and overseas Jewish communities

Kim Cunio


Chapter 4      Thirty years of Australia-China encounters in ethnomusicology — A personal memoir

Yang Mu


PART TWO — Socio-cultural Perspectives


Chapter 5      Researching Kam minority music in China

Catherine Ingram


Chapter 6      ‘The Asian Björk’ — Is Sa DingDing the voice of the ‘New China’?

Tony Mitchell


Chapter 7

"Sounds Chinese”: Musical meetings with China in contemporary Australia

Nicholas Ng


PART THREE  — Artistic Reflections


Chapter 8      Stylistic development and performance practice: From unpublished Chinese folksongs to new Australian compositions

Shan Deng


Chapter 9      Qin

Tony Wheeler


Chapter 10    Musical encounters in The Wide Alley

Erik Griswold and Vanessa Tomlinson


Chapter 11    My performance pieces — a self-reflection

William Yang


PART FOUR — Conversations


Chapter 12    Conversations with Gao Ping and John Huie

Transcribed by Michael Barkrnchev


Chapter 13    Conversations with Anne Boyd and Julian Yu

Transcribed by Jaret Choolun


Chapter 14    Conversations with Larry Sitsky and John Curro

Transcribed by Jaret Choolun


Chapter 15    Conversations with Ash Dargan

Transcribed by Nicholas Ng