Musical Connections Amid the Global Pandemic - Series 1

To reflect on the current world crisis, ACIAC Research Fellow Dr Nicholas Ng has curated this unique music series. A group of 12 artists connected to Chinese music and culture in Australia and abroad have made a special contribution to this series. We hope the music and messages from the artists will alleviate some of the stress we are all feeling and crate a feeling of hope for the future. This project features the poetry of the late Professor Neville Thomas Yeomans (1928-2000), former Foundation Dean of Medicine at WSU.

Biographies of Participating Artists

Jingjing Lu (Lu Xinyan) began playing the guzheng (21-stringed zither) at the age of 6. She soon began to win many competitions including the Zhejiang State Competition over 3 consecutive years, and the Young People of Art Prize (2000). She was invited to perform in Shizuoka (Japan) and represented Zhejiang province in the 50th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Republic of China. She continues to represent the Zhejiang Art and Music school at important events.

Jingjing majored in western flute at Queensland Conservatorium and graduated with a Master of Music Studies (2006). She gave her first solo guzheng and flute concert in Zhejiang Concert Hall (2003) and has since performed at the Tweed River Art Gallery (2004), Tyalgum Festival—Young Virtuosi (2004, 2005), Camden Festival (NSW) and various conferences (Griffith University) . Jingjing has also featured on ABC Classic FM and appeared with Dr Nicholas Ng (erhu) in a Sydney Chamber Choir concert.

In recent years, Jingjing has focused on composition with a series of 10 solo concerts entitled 'Xin’s music' in Brisbane and China (2017-2019). She plans to continue composing and performing in the belief that her music will help spread happiness and courage, especially for those facing hardship.

 jingjing lu

Prof Vanessa Tomlinson is an artist dedicated to exploring how sound shapes our lives. With a long history in experimental music, she has toured the world for 25 years, premiering over 100 works by significant national and international composers at major international festivals, and collaborating with improvisers, dancers and other artists.

As Head of Percussion at Queesnland Conservatorium, Vanessa lectures on a broad range of subjects from artistic methodology to percussion performance and improvisation.

Key projects include Sounding the Condamine, The Piano Mill (a purpose built structure/instrument in the Australian bush), Water Pushes Sand (Australian Art Orchestra with Sichuan Opera masters), Sonic Dreams (a series of compositions about extinct and imaginary sounds) and Here and Now (examining approaches to Australian music making).

As a Music Curator and Artistic Director, Vanessa has worked extensively at the intersection of research and performance on events such as the Australian Percussion Gathering (2010, 2016) and Tyalgum Festival (2018- ). She co-directs Clocked Out with Dr Erik Griswold, creating original music for prepared piano, percussion, found objects, and toys. Clocked Out received the APRA-AMCOS Award for Excellence by an Organisation (2011), Experimental Music (2017) and two Green Room Awards (2000).

Vanessa received an APRA/AMC Excellence as an Individual (2017), Excellence in Performance, Regional Area and Experimental Music (2018). She was a finalist in the Aria nomination in jazz for Water Pushes Sand (2017), and has received prestigious opportunities including Civatelli Ranieri Residency (Italy), Banff Residency (Canada), Australia Council Project Fellowship, and Asialink Residency (China).


Scholar-performer Dr Chai Changning is one of the most acclaimed Chinese musicians of his generation. Specialising in the dizi (transverse bamboo flute) and western flute, he graduated from the Central Conservatorium of Music and lectured there until 1988.

Chai was awarded First Prize at the prestigious 4th Annual Guan Dong Music Festival and has frequently been engaged as a soloist and ensemble member in major traditional Chinese and western symphony orchestras. In the world of film, Chai may be heard in several highly acclaimed movies including The Last Emperor (1986) by Bernardo Bertolucci, Children of the Dragon (1989), The Road to Xanadu (1988) and Mao’s Last Dancer (2009).

Chai has made a distinct mark on the Australian music scene since his arrival in 1988, playing extensively as a soloist with international legends such as James Morrison and Michael Kieran Harvey. He has toured Australia and Asia as a guest soloist with the highly regarded band Sirocco. Chai's involvement with the Australian media, in particular the ABC, has been much appreciated by Australian audiences. In 2014, he completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at Sydney Conservatorium under the supervision of Professors Keith Howard, Alexa Still, Jonathan Stock and Anna Reid.

 chai changning

Ying Liu was born in Shenyang, in China’s northeast and is now resident in Sydney, Australia. She began playing the erhu at the age of six, graduating from the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in 1994. Ying was keen to continually promote Chinese music and culture after migrating to Australia. She has since established an international reputation for her compelling performances and artistic individualism.

Ying is the founding member of Ying & Friends Chamber Music Ensemble and Oriental Trio; the first Chinese music adjudicator for Sydney Conservatorium High School; a special guest host for SBS Mandarin program “Chinese Music Appreciation Series”; composer of Association Song for the Australian Dongbei Chinese Association; a member of Australian Chinese Literature Network. She has also been hosting the Standard Grade Examination for Chinese Music in Overseas by Central Conservatory of Music in Sydney region since 2017.

liu ying

Dr Erik Griswold is a composer and pianist working in contemporary classical, improvised, and experimental forms.  Particular interests include prepared piano, percussion, environmental music, and music of Sichuan province.  Originally from San Diego, and now residing in Brisbane, he composes for adventurous musicians, performs as a soloist and in Clocked Out, and collaborates with musicians, artists, dancers, and poets.

His music has been performed in Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Cafe Oto, Chengdu Arts Centre, Melbourne Festival, OzAsia Festival, and Brisbane Festival, among others.  He is a recipient of an Australia Council Fellowship in Music, a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, and numerous individual grants. He has collaborated with musicians Steven Schick, Margaret Leng Tan, the Australian Art Orchestra, Decibel Ensemble, Zephyr String Quartet, Ensemble Offspring, and many others. His music can be heard on Mode Records, Innova, Room40, Move, Clocked Out and Immediata.

Together with Vanessa Tomlinson, Griswold directs Clocked Out, who create original music for prepared piano, percussion, found objects, and toys.  Their albums include Time Crystals, Foreign Objects, Water Pushes Sand, and Every night the same dream. Clocked Out also produces innovative concert series, events and tours, for which they have received the APRA-AMCOS Award for Excellence by an Organisation (2011) and two Green Room Awards (2000).


Performer, composer, and teacher Tony Wheeler graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1982 with a B.Mus. with Distinction. He spent two years under scholarship (1985-87) at the Shanghai Conservatory studying Chinese composition, ruan and guqin where he received a Certificate of Studies in Chinese music. In 1991 he graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Master’s Degree in Composition for Chinese instruments.

As well as maintaining a busy teaching schedule, Tony frequently performs on Chinese and Western instruments in a contemporary and or improvisatory context, and has played in major orchestras in Australia. He has had more than 20 of his original compositions published by Wirripang.

Tony wheeler

Jasmine Chen is a Shanghai-based jazz singer and songwriter. She has appeared in the As Time Goes By in Shanghai (2013) and the smash hit Crazy Rich Asians (2018). An ambassador for jazz music and culture, Jasmine has spoken on TEDx, and frequently speaks about jazz, music and the cultural context for large corporations, universities and arts organisations. She is also actively involved in charity work with Educating Rural Girls in China, the Renewal Project, and the Cambodian Children’s Fund, among others.

Born into a family of professional folk dancers and actors, Jasmine was groomed to be a concert pianist but fell in love with jazz while studying at the prestigious Leeds College of Music (UK). She returned to China in 2005 to follow this passion, bringing China’s rich musical heritage into the world of jazz.

She has since become one of China’s leading figures in the jazz scene, combining Western songs with original Chinese lyrics. Her unique perspective bridges the gap between traditional Chinese songs and jazz from the West, and between forgotten folk songs and contemporary jazz singing. This has resulted in a strong international following from the intimate stage of Shanghai’s JZ Club to the big lights of Rotterdam’s Northsea Jazz Festival.

Jasmine has collaborated with many great musicians around the world, including Grammy award nominee Jeff Peterson (Hawaiian); Filo Machado (Brazi); Jeremy Monteiro (Singapore); and Béla Szakcsi Lakatos (Hungary).

Career highlights include appearances with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Traditional Music Orchestra, and a performance for the Crown Prince of Denmark (2017). Jasmine is currently working on a new Chinese jazz album with Danish jazz pianist Nikolaj Hess, recorded in Copenhagen.


A/Prof Kim Cunio, Head of the School of Music at the Australian National University (ANU), is an activist composer interested in old and new musics and the role of intercultural music in making sense of our larger world. A scholar, composer and performer, Kim embodies the skills of the exegetical artist, showing that writing and making art are part of the same paradigm of deep artistic exploration.

A descendant of Mizrachi Jews from Shanghai, Kim is a recipient of the ABC Golden Manuscript Award for his work on traditional music. His compositions have been played internationally with performances at the Whitehouse, United Nations, and festivals in a number of countries. His list of commissioning organisations includes the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Foundation for Universal Sacred Music (USA), and many others. A number of Kim’s projects and tours have been funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Commonwealth Government.

Kim is currently working on a series of albums with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet; a project setting the sounds of space with the British Antarctic Survey and artist engineer Diana Scarborough; and a project on enforced feticide in India with writer and gender scholar Manish Sharma.

Under Kim, the ANU School of Music is entering a new renaissance, again valued by the university and the community of Canberra due to the work of its academic staff and the fearlessness of its students.


Dr Gerardo Dirié’s compositions for electro-acoustic media, chamber ensembles, choir, chamber operas, and the theatre have been presented in broadcasts and by distinguished soloists and ensembles on stages internationally, such as Carnegie Hall and The Town Hall in New York, the National Theatre in Taipei –Taiwan, the Indiana Repertory Theatre –USA, the International Music Festival of Instanbul –Turkey, the Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires –Argentina, the Nezahualcoyotl Hall in Mexico, the Quito Cathedral in Ecuador, la Madelaine Cathedral in Paris, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Teatro Central in Seville in Spain, among many others.

His music appears in recordings from PARMA Recordings, Crystal Records, Melos, Indiana University, Doblemoon, Eroica Classical Recordings, Aqua, and his own Retamas Music Editions label. Further to his active trajectory as a composer and educator, Gerardo has been an experienced clarinet player, bass player, instrumental and choral conductor, percussionist, Early Music performer, and chõros cavaquinho player.

Dirié was a Fulbright fellow in the USA from 1987 to 1989, and Associate Director of the Latin American Music Centre at the Jacobs School of Music –Indiana University, USA. Since 2003 he has served for the Music Theory, Music Studies, World Music Ensembles, and Composition areas at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Dirié graduated from the National University in Cordoba, Argentina, later undertaking master and doctoral studies at Indiana University under Eugene O'Brien and John Eaton.


Dr Wang Zhengting is a graduate of Shanghai Music Conservatory. He completed a MA in Ethnomusicology at Monash University, and a PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Melbourne. He is co-ordinator of the Chinese Instrumental Music course at the University of Melbourne and has been invited as a visiting scholar to the City University of New York, guest Professor at Xiamen University, and Research Fellow at the Sichuan Conservatory of music. He is also the director of the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble. He has also been appointed Melbourne Festival Ambassador (2014, 2015).

A lecturer and solo performer on the sheng (mouth organ), he has given many recitals across the world at prestigious venues such as New York’s Lincoln Center; Melbourne Recital Centre; Schweizeriusche Musikforschende Gesellschaft, Ortsgruppe, Zürich (Switzerland); Victoria University, Wellington (New Zealand); Hoch Schule Fur Music Koln, Wuppertal (Germany); Mahasarakham University (Thailand). He has also performed with some of the world’s leading ensembles including the Venice Chamber Orchestra; New Zealand String Quartet, Wellington; Macalester College Wind Symphony, Minneapolis; Japanese Stringraphy Ensemble, Tokyo. Zhenting has also been broadcast by the Shanghai Oriental Radio Station and appeared with Christine Sullivan and Zydeco Jump at the Shanghai International Spring Festival.

His research focuses on historical musicology with topics that focus on Chinese musical history in Australia and intercultural practices.

 wang zhengting

Dr Lulu Liu (Liu Lu) is a performer, educator and researcher. She commenced her studies on the pipa at the age of six, completing her undergraduate studies in pipa performance at the Shenyang Conservatory of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She received her doctorate from the University of Sydney in 2019 for a thesis entitled The Chinese pipa and its music, from conservatory to concert hall and beyond: Case studies of pedagogues, popularisers and promoters.

Lulu is Acting Coordinator of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM) Chinese Music Ensemble, and has given numerous high-profile performances with SCM colleagues and leading artists from China in both Australia and China. Lulu also provides strategic guidance for SCM in collaborations with China, and supervises Master of Music students on pipa.

Her article, ‘Contemporary Chinese pipa music and its future’, was published in Asian Musicology in 2012; her chapter on the canonisation of pipa repertoire is in press with Routledge. She has presented at numerous conferences such as the 45th International Council for Traditional Music, Bangkok (2019); 22nd CHIME Meeting, Beijing; a symposium at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (2017); ‘Presence through Sound: Place and Contemporary Music in and from East Asia’ at Sydney Conservatorium (2016); and the 39th National Conference of the Musicology Society of Australia (2016).

Lulu has performed extensively in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Her output includes two solo pipa albums, three collaborative albums, and Christopher Gordon’s soundtrack to the movie Mao’s Last Dancer (2009).


Dr Nicholas Ng is a composer, performer and Research Fellow at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture (Western Sydney University). He has over 25 years of experience as an accompanist. A former Lecturer (Australian National University) and Research Fellow (Queensland Conservatorium), he began teaching Chinese music and western harmony at Sydney Conservatorium in 2016.

On the erhu, Nicholas has toured to festivals around Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada and Europe. These include KunstenFESTIVALdesarts, Brussels (2008), Sydney Festival (2014, 2020) and Auckland Arts Festival (2017). He has composed for The Song Company, The Australian Voices, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. He works closely with William Yang and recently appeared in Annette Shun Wah's touring production Double Delicious with Benjamin Law (2020).

Nicholas has produced a book and various articles on Australia-China exchange. He established the ANU Chinese Classical Music Ensemble (2003). After obtaining his doctorate with Prof Larry Sitsky and Dr Stephen Wild at the Australian National University, Nicholas curated the festival ENCOUNTERS: China (2010). His work has been documented on SBS Mandarin Radio, ABC Music Show, and in the ABC Compass program, Divine Rhythms.

 Nick ng