A cinematic odyssey exploring the waterways that have shaped our world, in all their majesty and fragility.

★★★★★ “This richly conceived and persuasively presented plea for the life of the planet demands serious attention.” – The Age

★★★★★ “a powerful, spellbinding marriage of music and image” – Limelight

For millions of years, rivers shaped landscapes and sustained communities. In flow, flood and drought, rivers gave life and carried it away. In two short centuries, humans have begun to re-shape rivers. We build dams upstream to sustain our cities. We alter flood plains and vary flows. Downstream, the changes can be catastrophic.

ACO Artistic Director Richard Tognetti and Director Jennifer Peedom follow their acclaimed Mountain with this cinematic exploration of the waterways that have shaped our world. On screen, the rivers flow in rhythm and harmony with music from outstanding composers. The result is an awe-inspiring combination of timeless music, captivating cinematography, and distinctive narration from award-winning actor Willem Dafoe.

The score features iconic works by composers including Bach and Ravel, music by Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead, and new original music by Richard Tognetti and peerless Indigenous composer William Barton. The soundtrack won ARIA & AACTA awards. Performed live by Richard Tognetti and the ACO, alongside Jennifer Peedom’s astonishing visuals, the effect is even more powerful.


River: film live in concert featuring music by Bach, Vivaldi, Mahler, Sibelius, Ravel, Thomas Adès, Pēteris Vasks, Richard Tognetti, Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood and William Barton.


Richard Tognetti, Musical Director, Composer & Violin
William Barton, Composer, Vocals & Didgeridoo
Additional Composition by Piers Burbrook de Vere
Satu Vänskä, Vocals & Violin
Australian Chamber Orchestra

Jennifer Peedom, Writer & Director
Robert Macfarlane, Writer
Jo-anne McGowan, Jennifer Peedom, John Smithson, Producers
Joseph Nizeti, Co-Writer & Co-Director
Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Ben Knight, Sherpas Cinema, Renan Ozturk and Pete McBride, Principal Cinematography
Willem Dafoe, Narrator
Nigel Jamieson, Staging Director
Damien Cooper, Lighting Design

CONCERT duration
Approx. 80 minutes, no interval
Playlist by the ACO
Listen to River
Pre-concert talk times

Fri 2 Feb, 6:45pm

Sat 3 Feb, 6:45pm

Mon 5 Feb, 6:45pm

Sun 4 Feb, 1:45pm

Wed 7 Feb, 7:15pm

Sat 10 Feb, 6:15pm

Tue 13 Feb, 7:15pm

Wed 14 Feb, 6:15pm

Sun 11 Feb, 1:15pm

Mon 12 Feb, 6:15pm

Fri 16 Feb, 6:45pm

Richard Tognetti performs in River

Dive deeper

A mediation on evanescence

Artistic Director Richard Tognetti on the nature of rivers.

Discover more

Deep Waters: interview with William Barton

Indigenous writer Tristen Harwood yarns with didgeridoo player William Barton about the profound roles of rivers.
LICENSED FOR PR - Yann Arthus-Bertrand - 637418834 - Copy

Long Read

Rivers of Paradise.

Environmental writer Huw Kingston explores why humanity needs to fight to keep our rivers alive.
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