Dr Nicholas Ng

Nicholas NgDr Nicholas Ng is an ethnomusicologist and musician specialising in Australia-China musical exchange. He was Associate Lecturer in Music at the Australian National University (2004-2008) and Research Fellow at Queensland Conservatorium (2009-2012) before joining the Chinese Music Ensemble program at Sydney Conservatorium (2016).

In July 2019, Nicholas began a new term as Research Fellow at the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture (WSU). At WSU, Nicholas’ main research project documents the lives of Australian-Chinese musicians through a major publication, podcast, and various non-traditional research outcomes. This project builds on his earlier Australia Council-funded research exploring the 200-year history of the Chinese in Australia through sound and art in partnership with the National Museum of Australia. In particular, he interested in developing the 'Western Sydney sound' in collaboration with the Sydney Sacred Music Festival and is organising the festival's first symposium at WSU. Much of Nicholas' practice-based output takes the form of original music for the concert hall, film, theatre and dance. Published by Orpheus Music, Nicholas has written for The Song Company, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Art Gallery of NSW and various internationally recognised organisations and ensembles. He has also collaborated with Sydney Asia-Pacific Film Festival (2002), QL2 Dance, Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP), Griffin Theatre and Carriageworks. He works closely with photographer William Yang and is the musical director of 'Slow Boat' (Playmoves), a physical theatre piece supported by Queensland Theatre (2019) and Playlab Theatre (2020). A performer on the Chinese 'erhu' (2-stringed fiddle) and 'hulusi' (gourd pipe), Nicholas has toured to prestigious festivals around Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada and Europe. These include KunstenFESTIVALdesarts (Brussels), Alkantara Festival (Lisbon) and Sydney Festival. He was invited to perform in Gareth Farr’s 'The Bone Feeder' (New Zealand Opera) (2017) and recently appeared in Annette Shun Wah’s touring production 'Double Delicious' with Benjamin Law during the Sydney Festival. Nicholas currently features on ABC TV and iView showcasing the erhu in the program 'Lah-Lah's Big Live Band' on ABC Kids. Passionate about Chinese music, Nicholas obtained his PhD on diasporic Chinese music from the Australian National University (2008), where he established the ANU Chinese Music Ensemble (2003). He later curated the festival ENCOUNTERS: China (2010), which inspired his first edited book 'Encounters: Musical Meetings between Australia and China' (2013). His Chinese music research may be accessed in various leading and high profile journals. Nicholas' life as a researching artist has been documented on SBS Mandarin Radio, ABC Music Show, and in the ABC Compass program, Divine Rhythms (2018).


  • PhD, 2008, Australian National University, Australia
  • Bachelor of Music, 2001, University of Sydney, Australia

Awards and Recognition

  • 2005: Orpheus Publications Composition Competition Prize
  • 2004: De Viana Liturgical Music Prize from St Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra
  • 2003: Australian Postgraduate Award (PhD Scholarship)
  • 2001: Sarah Theresa Makinson Prize for Composition
  • 2000: Young Composer’s Salon of the 11th Sydney Spring Festival at Sydney Opera House
  • 2000: Frank Albert Prize III for Music
  • 1999: Donald Peart Memorial Prize for Music

Selected Publications

Ingram, C, Liu L and Ng, N 2021, 'Falling leaves and new roots: Informed practice within the Sydney Conservatorium of Music's Chinese Music Ensemble', in A Reid, J Carrigan & N P da Costa (eds), Creative research in music: Informed practice, innovation and transcendence (1st ed.), New York & London: Routledge, pp. 73-81.

Ng, N 2013, ‘“Sounds Chinese”: musical meetings with China in contemporary Australia’, in N Ng (ed.), Encounters: Musical meetings between Australia and China,  Australian Academic Press, Toowong, pp. 92-112.

Ng, N (ed.) 2012, 'Encounters: Musical meetings between Australia and China', Toowong, Australian Academic Press.

Ng, N 2012, ‘Musical meetings’, in N Ng (ed.), Encounters: Musical meetings between Australia and China, Australian Academic Press, Toowong, pp. i-ix.

Ng, N 2009, ‘Domesticating the foreign: singing salvation through translation in the Australian Catholic Chinese community’, in A Chan & A Nelson (eds), Sounds in Translation, Canberra, ANU Press, pp. 111-144.

Ng, N 2020 (forthcoming), ‘Fallen leaves, new roots’, Asian Musicology.

Ng, N 2013, ‘Cultural sustainability and loss in Sydney’s Chinese’, S Wild, D Roy, A Corn & RL Martin (eds), Humanities Research, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 111-124.

Ng, N 2011, ‘Foreign spaces, hybrid places’, Olivia Khoo (ed.), Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 529-546.

Ng, N 2011, ‘I love the starry-sky at night-time: singing and signing in the Buddha’s Light International Association, Sydney’, I Russell & F Wilkins (eds), Musik√©: Sacred Singing and Musical Spirituality, vol. 5/6, pp. 19-54.

Ng, N 2011, ‘Chinese shadows: The amazing world of shadow puppetry in rural northwest China’, Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 503-506.

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