2022: Mara! big band takes off!!
The Mara! Big Band dream was finally made possible through an initial invitation to perform from the Live At the Village Organisation in Springwood and the generous support of CreateNSW and the Australia Council for the Arts.
Early in 2020, we received funding from Create NSW to commission the Mara! composers Evans, Gorman, Robson, Cutlan, Kiek and Kiek to create a new suite of music, 'Zashto?' for the new group.

'Zashto?' (meaning 'Why?' in Bulgarian language) is a series of musical snapshots of refugee and migrant experience in Australia, with librettos by Marcia Malinova-Anthony, Maryam Rad and Mara Kiek. The work explores the fact that deprivation of liberty (physical and psychological) has been a spectre hovering over many migration experiences throughout our social and political history and poses the question ... “Zashto?”

The Mara! Big band expands the Mara! quintet's world/jazz sound with elements of a Gypsy brass band and Balkan wedding band supporting an amazing vocal trio, covering Anglo/Celtic, Balkan and Middle Eastern sonic worlds. Expect some intricate textures, wild improvisations and riveting vocals.
We were extremely fortunate to receive financial support from the Australia Council for the Arts to mount an initial tour of the new suite, which will take the group to venues in Parramatta, Wollongong, Bathurst, Canberra and Springwood.
The tour was initially slated for September and October 2020, but was rescheduled twice in two years because of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
The premiere performance at Riverside Theatre was able to go ahead on 2 March 2022 but we were again forced to cancel the remaining three dates of the March tour because of COVID.
Thankfully, due to the unfailing support of the venues and our amazing musicians, we were able to reschedule all concerts.

Since then we have performed Zashto? three more times, first at Canberra's Street Theatre and then at the Live at the Village Music Festival in August and finally at Wollongong Town Hall for the Jazz Department Wollongong Conservatorium of Music in partnership with Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. For the band, each performance has been more amazing than the last and this has been borne out by the reactions of audience members who have found the power and passion of the music to be all consuming. 

The band:

Sandy Evans (saxes)
Paul Cutlan (clarinets, saxes)
Andrew Robson (alto and baritone saxes)
Sam Golding (flute, bari sax, trumpet, tuba)
James Greening (pocket trumpet, trombone, tuba)
Lloyd Swanton (double bass)
Llew Kiek (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, ba─člama)
Gary Daley (piano accordion)
Jess Ciampa (drums and percussion) 
Mara Kiek (mezzo, tapan, percussion)
Jenny Dornan (soprano)
Jarnie Birmingham (alto)
Everyone sings!!!! 

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