Based in Ultimo, Martenitsa is modelled on the magnificent Bulgarian state choirs, and has become one of the most highly regarded and innovative choirs in Australia. Martenitsa's repertoire was inspired by the folk song arrangements of Bulgarian maestro Philip Kutev and his contemporaries and successors. Kutev took traditional village songs and added extra vocal parts, creating a new genre in Bulgaria which has been popularised worldwide through groups such as the Radio Sofia Choir, Le Mystère de Voix Bulgares, Philip Kutev Ensemble and Trio Bulgarka. Many original compositions have now been created in this style.
In 1988 Mara Kiek travelled to Bulgaria with grants from the Australia Council and the Alfred White Trust to study folk music, choral music and conducting at the Plovdiv Higher Institute of Music. She also attended singing lessons in Sofia and at the Istanbul Conservatorium. On her return home in 1989, Mara recruited about 40 Sydney singers around the core group, Mesana Salata, of which she was a founding member. Mesana Salata, formed in May 1983, were an all female multicultural choral group pioneering the new wave of Australian a capella. With further assistance from the Australia Council, Mara trained Martenitsa for 12 weeks, and presented an inaugural concert season. Everyone was so enthusiastic that Martenitsa continues to the present day, with several of the original choristers and Mesana Salata members still there!
Since their formation, Martenitsa has performed in many major concert halls in eastern Australia, toured with legendary Trio Bulgarka and Balkana and recorded a number of CDs. Martenitsa has worked on collaborations with Mara!, Clarion Fracture Zone, David Hobson and David Hirschfelder; commissioned works by Ivan Spasov (Bulgaria) and Sandy Evans (Aust); and broadcast live and prerecorded for many ABC Radio and TV programmes. As well as the commissioned works, Martenitsa has also performed original works by Llew and Mara, Tony Gorman, Alistair Spence, Stephan Kozuharov, Silvia Entcheva and Marcia Malinova-Anthony.Martenitsa performance history
Tra Parole E Silenzio
Homeland and Sezoni
"Canticle" with Clarion Fracture Zone
CDs from Martenitsa Choir