Voice, tapan, darabukka, percussion
Acclaimed worldwide for her distinctive voice, Mara is an Australian authority on Bulgarian vocal technique, song and folk music.
Her 35-year musical career has encompassed performances and recordings in styles ranging from folk to early music, and rock to improvised music. Mara was female artist of the year in the Australian World Music Awards 2000, and has won 2 ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Awards).
Mara is recognised for her work as:
- Co-founder folk/jazz/world music groups Mara! (ARIA award winners) and Tansey’s Fancy. The Mara! Ensemble has toured to more than 20 countries.
- Co-founder Balkan style women’s a cappella group Mesana Salata.
- Founder/director Bulgarian style choir Martenitsa, and its Blue Mountains chapter MalkaSestra.
- Principal singer in early music ensemble The Renaissance Players.
- Principal singer/founding member of medieval ensemble Sinfonye (Jury prize winners at Brugge Early Music Festival 1987). With Sinfonye, Mara toured Europe, India, USA and Australia 1986-91.
- Co-founder a cappella quartet Girls in Your Town.
- Founder and leader of a cappella quartet Humming Birds.
- Co-founder Celtic music group CrossRoads, which tours regularly in Europe and Australia.
- A major driving force in the development of a cappella music in Australia.
- Musical director and performer in music theatre and dance productions with several major Australian companies.
Born in Melbourne, Victoria, Mara trained in piano, music theory and classical ballet as a child, then went on to study drama and modern dance at Flinders University in Adelaide. She studied classical singing in Sydney with Angela Luppino/Henry Penn and Ron Stevens and Susan Reppion-Brooke, and in London with Janice Chapman.
In 1988, with the assistance of the Australia Council, Mara spent 6 months studying vocal techniques, conducting and folk dance at the Plovdiv Institute in Bulgaria and Istanbul Conservatorium in Turkey. She has made three other shorter study tours to Bulgaria.
In 2008 she completed a Master of Applied Science (music research) degree at the Australian Centre for Applied Research in Music Performance (ACARMP) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney University. Her research was an in-depth study of the characteristics of Bulgarian Folk Singing. She has co-authored 2 original research papers published in the journal “Logopedics, Phoniatrics and Vocology” in 2007.
Mara Kiek Performances
Mara Kiek Musical Direction and Composition
Mara Education and Workshops
CDs from Mara Kiek