Australian World Music at its best

Mara! Big Band receives Create NSW Regional Touring Grant in 2024

We are delighted to announce the success of our grant application to Create NSW Regional Touring Fund for Mara! Big Band Mid-Nth Coast, Southern Tablelands & Central West NSW Tour in November 2024 to promote the CD of our original Australian suite 'Zashto?'.

We are extremely grateful to Create NSW for this invaluable support and humbled to have been chosen as one of 17 successful recipients of funding in this round. More

Create NSW Grant Recipient Press Release


Mara! Big Band new album Zashto? now available

Album cover painting by Maryam Rad


Mara! Big Band launched their inaugural CD 'Zashto?' at the Great Club Marrickville on October 13, 2023 to a packed house. What a night it was!!


Digital downloads available at:



Apple Music

Album Review Rhythms Magazine March_April edition

Album Review Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

The Music

60 incredible minutes of original music by the Mara! Big Band focusing on the migrant experience in Australia and the spectre of incarceration (physical and psychological) hovering over it in the past 235 years.
Three women (Irish, Bulgarian & Iranian) speak to us from different times and different circumstances of the trauma that scarred them and we pose the question Zashto?

The Band

This dynamite 13-piece ensemble, sits between the Eastern European Gypsy brass band and jazz big band traditions.
A line-up of Australian jazz and world music royalty - on woodwinds Sandy Evans, Paul Cutlan & Andrew Robson, on brass James Greening & Sam Golding, with a killer rhythm section in Lloyd Swanton, Llew Kiek, Gary Daley & Jess Ciampa and stunning vocals from Silvia Entcheva, Jenny Dornan, Jarnie Birmingham and Mara Kiek.

Live Review

Jessie Cunniffe described the concert as "...a triumph and a treat" in her Sydney Morning Herald review of Mara! Big Band's world premiere performance of 'Zashto?' at Riverside Theatre Parramatta in March 2022.
Read full review here


Watch video Zashto? lineup


Photography by Grant Leslie

Mara! Big Band line up...

Sandy Evans - soprano & tenor saxophones

Paul Cutlan - Eb & Bb clarinets, sopranino, alto and tenor saxophones & piccolo

Lloyd Swanton -double bass

Llew Kiek - bouzouki, baglama, mandolin, acoustic & electric guitars

Mara Kiek - voice & percussion

Andrew Robson - alto and baritone saxophones

James Greening - trombone, pocket trumpet & tuba

Sam Golding - flute, trumpet & tuba

Gary Daley - piano accordion

Jess Ciampa - drums & percussion

Jenny Dornan - voice (soprano)

Jarnie Birmingham - voice (alto)


with Bulgarian soloist Silvia Entcheva

Mara! Big Band's Zashto? project has been supported by the Australia Council for the Arts and Create NSW.

For more information on Mara! Big Band click here

Mara! Big Band EPK


Mara! and Martenitsa new album


Photograph by Wayne Leatham


The new Mara! and Martenitsa album is on track for release in November 2023. Recorded at Megaphon Studios, Universal Forbes St, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, this album will showcase a wealth of previously unrecorded works composed and commissioned especially for Martenitsa Choir and the Mara! band.

Composers include Llew and Mara Kiek, Paul Cutlan, Laura Bishop and Sandy Evans in addition to Bulgaria's premier choral composer, the late Ivan Spasov. Librettists include Stephan Kozuharov, Marcia Malinova-Anthony, Silvia Entcheva and Mara Kiek.

Engineers Steve Morley, Chris Doherty and associate producer Guy Dickerson are also contributing their expertise.




Crossroads: work to continue on new album

After a three year hiatus due to the pandemic, Mara and Llew are now planning to travel to Brittany in early 2024 to complete their second album with Padrig Sicard from Quimper and Yann Cariou from Concarneau. For more news





Tra Parole E Silenzio Mara! and Martenitsa's latest CD

Tra Parole e Silenzio is a celebration of life's most precious and enduring treasures - love, home, family and friends, so exquisitely expressed in the poignantly tender poems of Eduardo Di Giovanni and stunningly interpreted by Mara! Band composers and performers Paul Cutlan, Andrew Robson, Steve Elphick, Llew Kiek, Mara Kiek and Sandy Evans, in collaboration with Silvia Entcheva, Naomi Vaughan and the magnificent Martenitsa choir. More about Tra Parole e Silenzio.

CD available from our online store.

from Froots (UK) Dec 2012

"The Sydney Morning Herald once referred to Mara! as "the Dom Perignon of (Australia's) World Music Bands", it was perhaps a touch premature, but this collaboration between the group and their Bulgarian-style choir certainly meets that unqualified success with its feeling of fresh adventure, sumptuous singing and depth of musical experience."

Read Tra Parole CD review in "The Australian" of April 14, 2012



Listen to some of the music from Tra Parole E Silenzio:

Track 1: "Prima Della Sera"

Watch video featuring "Partii Ch'era Il Giorno di Natale" studio recording (from Tra Parole E Silenzio CD), featuring archival stills and live footage from Woodford Festival amphitheatre stage on Dec 31 2011.



This month's featured videos:

M'en Allant Sur la Lande

CrossRoads, from "De Partir...C'est Mon Plaisir" featuring Llew and Mara Kiek, Padrig Sicard, Yann Cariou, Steve Elphick and Bagad Cap Caval drummers


Mara! Electronic Press Kit here




Key photographers: Karen Steaines, Regis Lansac, Steve Turner, Jo Van der Meer, Tracey Schramm and Jim Rolon. Designers Michele Turcsanyi and Ibi Szentirmay. Webdesigner Bradley Major