Mara! Big Band EPK

Mara! Big Band 2023

 Photography by Grant Leslie
Mara! Big Band Biography
Mara Music is excited to announce the newest development for Australia’s leading World/Jazz ensemble Mara!.
For over 3 decades the Mara! Quintet has been developing a new genre of contemporary Australian music, exploring the intersection between jazz and world music. Their albums have won two ARIA awards plus 2 final ARIA nominations and taken them across the globe many times with tours to 23 countries.
Now they’ve expanded to form the Mara! Big Band, a 13-piece ensemble that sits between an Eastern European Gypsy brass band and a jazz Big Band, with the addition of brass, piano accordion, percussion & vocals.
Mara! Big Band premiered their ground breaking world/jazz suite Zashto? in 2022 with support from Create NSW and the Australia Council for the Arts. In September 2023 they released a CD of the work. 

Who are they?
Mara Kiek (voice & percussion) founder & co-director Mara! Band, Martenitsa Choir, Trio Zora; has sung with Girls In Your Town, Humming Birds, Early Music ensembles Sinfonye, Renaissance Players; directed and performed in dance/theatre works with Meryl Tankard’s ADT “Songs with Mara”, MAD, Pearl, Toulouse; sung on film soundtracks - The Navigator, Pig in the City, Passion, Happy Feet.
Llew Kiek (plucked strings) co-director Mara! Band and Martenitsa Choir, has performed with Kim Sanders & Friends, Marais Project, Renaissance Players, Gondwana Voices; producer of over 50 world music and classical CDs; composed and performed for Marais Project, Voxy Lady, Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, One Extra Company, Legs on the Wall, Meryl Tankard Australian Dance Theatre, Sean Parker and Australian Theatre of the Deaf; motion pictures “Babe -Pig in the City”, “Passion” and “Three Dollars”, “An Unfinished Sky”, “The December Boys”, and “Wog Boy 2”.
Sandy Evans (saxophones) leads Sandy Evans Trio and Sextet, and co-leads Clarion Fracture Zone and GEST8, plays with The catholics, Mara! ,the Australian Art Orchestra, austraLYSIS, and Waratah; awards include Australia Council Fellowship, Churchill Fellowship 2014; Order of Australia Medal, Australian Jazz Bell Award, 3 ARIA Awards, APRA Award, 2 Mo Awards.
Paul Cutlan (clarinets & saxophones) is a multi-instrumentalist specialilsing in contemporary classical music, world music and jazz; has played with the Tasmanian and Sydney Symphony Orchestras and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, concerts with Gurrumul and the SSO,; Lou Reed, Bobby Previte, Jim McNeely, Ólafur Arnalds, Jerry Lewis and Michael Bublé, the Australian Art Orchestra Mara!; theatre productions Birth of the Cool “Diary of a Madman” “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”.
Andrew Robson (saxophones) dual ARIA and Freedman Jazz Fellowship winner, Andrew has perfomed with the Paul Grabowsky Sextet, Mike Nock’s Big Small Band, Ten Part Invention, the World According to James, Andrew Robson Trio, Mara!, Jackie Orszaczky’s Grandmasters, Marcia Hines, Tim Finn, You Am I, Renee Geyer, Jon Stevens, Josh Pyke, Vince Jones Ed, Kuepper, Alex Lloyd, Briggs and The Whitlams, plus American artists Terry Evans, Cornell Dupree (Aretha Franklin) and Jon ‘King’ Cleary.
Lloyd Swanton (double bass) has played with The Necks,The catholics, Dynamic Hepnotics, The Benders, Clarion Fracture Zone, Mara!, Sydney Symphony, Vince Jones, Alpha Centauri Ensemble, the Mighty Reapers, the Seymour Group, Tim Finn, Stephen Cummings and Wendy Matthews, Bernie McGann Trio and Quartet.
James Greening (trombone) has played with Ten Part Invention, Wanderlust, The catholics, The Umbrellas, the Australian Art Orchestra, Archie Roach & Ruby Hunter, Jackie Orszaczky, Bernie McGann, Tim Hopkins, Mike Nock, Chris Cody, Steve Hunter, Monica Trapaga, Vince Jones, Katie Noonan, Renee Geyer, Tina Harrod, Judy Bailey and James Morrison & his own ARIA award winning ensemble The World According to James.
Sam Golding (trumpet) freelance specialist in Jazz, Central and Eastern European Folk, West African & Mexican plays with The Sousaphonics and Teranga.
Gary Daley (piano - accordion) resident piano player at the Basement, has played with Renee Geyer, Kristen Cornwall, Lily Dior, Doug Parkinson, Jeff Duff, Kristin Berardi, James Valentine and runs his own ensemble Bungarribee.
Jess Ciampa (drums & percussion) multi-instrumentalist, Jess is one of the busiest musicians in Sydney working in a variety of musical genres including orchestral, jazz, Latin, and commercial. He has performed with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Brandenburg Orchestra, Synergy Percussion, Seymour Group, Sydney Dance Co. among many others.
Silvia Entcheva (soprano voice) former member of Bulgaria's famous Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares choir, Silvia has performed as a soloist for Martenitsa choir since migrating to Australia in 1994. Silvia is the director of Silvia Entcheva Trio and Trio Pippero releasing albums with both ensembles.
Jenny Dornan (soprano voice) soloist and head chorister with Martenitsa Choir, Jenny was a founding member of a cappella ensemble Mešana Salata upon which Martenitsa Choir was built. She is an expert on Balkan music and dance and has been critical to the success of the Martenitsa choir throughout its 30 year history.
Jarnie Birmingham (alto voice) founding member and soloist Martenitsa choir, Mešana Salata, Trio Pippero, a cappella quartets Girls In Your Town, Humming Birds; theatre performances “People Like Us”, “This show is about People”; film soundtracks “Babe Pig in the City”. 
New Work  - Zashto? 
 The theme of the Mara! Big Band’s new 60-minute musical suite “Zashto?” (“Why?” in Bulgarian language) is the experience of migration to Australia and the spectre of incarceration (physical and psychological) that has hovered over each wave of migration in the past 230 years.

 Through the stories of three women who arrived in Australia at very different times in our history, we investigate the fact that deprivation of liberty or trauma has scarred the migration experience of many in our community and we pose the question “Zashto?

 The ‘protagonists’ are a young female convict who was arrested in Ireland at the age of 16 and transported in 1803, a Bulgarian migrant and an Iranian refugee. The libretto is drawn from poetry and texts written by or about them in their native languages (Irish Gaelic, Bulgarian and Farsi) giving a window into their experiences of displacement, hope, longing, despair and resignation in their struggle to forge a new life in this ‘lucky country’.

 The work was commissioned by Mara Kiek in 2020 with support from CreateNSW and features compositions by current and former members of the Mara! band - Sandy  Evans, Paul Cutlan, Andrew Robson, Tony Gorman and Llew Kiek and scored for the 12-piece line-up of the new Mara! Big Band.
Mara! Big Band recorded Zashto? at Sydney's Studio 301 in 2022 and released it in September 2023.

Mara! Big Band Zashto? Promo


Mara! Big Band composite - Grant Leslie Photography

Mara! Big Band Riverside Theatre - Grant Leslie Photography


Stage Plan Large Venues


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