Cultural Crossroads: Asian-Australian Programming in Contemporary Sydney

Dr Nicholas Ng1

1Western Sydney University, Parramatta, Australia

In September 2019, a group of five hundred spectators flocked to Ashfield Town Hall in celebration of the Moon Festival. For the first time in local history, members of the Asian Australian community came together in mutual celebration of what is often known as the Chinese ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’ through an eclectic program of music, dance, story-telling and visual art. The program avoided the China-centric focus often assumed at similar events still produced by the City of Sydney, in light of the Korean, Vietnamese (and to a certain extent, Japanese) observation of the festival. Specially curated as part of the 9th Sydney Sacred Music Festival, much emphasis was placed on the creation of new intercultural sounds through music, particularly through a commissioned work for traditional Asian instruments, 18 cellos and a live DJ. This paper examines the intricate processes involved in the creation of this unique program supported by Inner West Council and Western Sydney University. My analysis reflects on the overall success of the festival in representing the various performers engaged, many of whom who are neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ in the ongoing negotiation of their respective identities as Asian Australian artists.


Dr Nicholas Ng is composer/performer/researcher specialising in Australia-China musical exchange. Published by Orpheus Music, he has toured to prestigious festivals around Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada and Europe. His life as a researching artist has been documented on SBS Mandarin Radio, ABC Music Show, and in the ABC Compass TV program, ‘Divine Rhythms’ (2018).


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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