Musician   Performer   Composer   Instrument Maker

West Australian saxophonist, instrument maker and composer, Mark Cain’s career spans world music, jazz, experimental and free improvised genres, including music he has written for dance, theatre, short film and his numerous bands. As a multi-instrumentalist and instrument maker he co-founded in 1987 the ground-breaking concept group, AC/PVC, who designed and built all their instruments. He toured internationally with Nova Ensemble (1991 - 2006); performs in the national Musica Viva schools program (approaching three decades with Nova Ensemble, Ozmosis and currently, Eastwinds) and has worked throughout Australia as a solo performer in schools with Nexus Arts (Victoria) playing instruments of his own invention from simple, recyclable materials. Over his career he has performed in countless schools. both in city and regional Australia. Formerly a radio journalist, Cain was also responsible for training Western Australia’s first indigenous radio journalist/broadcasters as part of Noongar Radio (Ab Radio) at Radio 6NR (Curtin University 1979–85).

Instrument Maker 

Cain is recognised for the instruments he makes from plumbing accessories and other recyclable industrial materials, dating back to his work in Tall Stories (with his mentor, Linsey Pollak in 1985) and AC/PVC (1987 - 91). His trademark is his use of simple, commonly available materials to create imaginative and often whimsical instruments whose surprising sounds confound their origins.

He has worked in many indigenous and regional communities among musicians and non-musicians alike, building instruments from ‘found’ or recycled materials, collaboratively devising performances that explore local themes. His 2012  Musica Viva/AIR Grant Artist-In-Residence was a collaboration  (with  a visual artist) constructing an interactive sound playground at Belmay Primary School in Western Australia. In 2014 and 2015 Cain was Musician in Residence for Tura New Music in indigenous communities on the Dampier Peninsula, Kimberley WA, working alongside community members to construct a series of musical sculptures sited at Lombadina school. In 2017-18 he was Musician in Residence at Safety Bay Primary collaborating with the school community to construct a large-scale sound playground based on a nautical theme.

Performer and Educator

As an educator, Cain has worked extensively in schools and artist-in-residence projects in communities around the country. For two decades he performed and toured variously in Australia and oversees with the Nova Ensemble (1991-2006) and subsequently, Ozmosis (2008 – 2013) in the national Musica Viva In Schools programme. His projects at this time included the duo, Windcheaters (with fellow reedman, Lee Buddle), touring as a solo artist with Nexus Arts (1992 - 2021), Victoria. Between 2014 - 2018 Cain was a WASO Teaching Artist (OKME) at Onslow Primary School (WA)  with percussionist, Paul Tanner. He has also worked with the Song Room on a school sound installation.. As a freelance musician, a former sessional music lecturer (School of Music, University of Western Australia) and producer and broadcaster (The Planet, ABC Radio National). His long-time interest in Balkan, Jewish klezmer and jazz-inflected world music led to groups: Bulgarity, Rita Menendez Trio, Crab Tango, Elastic Band, Caravan. In 2008 he shared the WAM World Music Award with his group, The Flying Carpathians.

In 2009, Cain founded the quintet, Daramad, who won the Songlines/World Music (Network Medien) international competition, World Battle of the Bands (2013) Two of his compositions (with Daramad) are released on the international Rough Guide To World Music label - Rough Guide to Arabic Jazz and Rough Guide to the Best Arabic Music You've Never Heard and Rough Guide to Arabic Cafe.  

For decades Cain has worked as a catalyst bringing together musicians from different parts of the world including his long  involvement with Kulcha in Fremantle and formerly the  North Perth Ethnic Music Centre. He currently performs with the group he co-founded in 2014, Eastwinds, featuring musicians from Iran, Estonia, Japan and Australia. In 2016 Eastwinds won the WAM Song of the Year competition (World Music) and performed at the National Folk Festival (Canberra), Fairbridge Festival (WA) in consecutive years and Nanga Music Festival (WA). Since 2018 Eastwinds tours nationally with Musica Viva in Schools. In recent years Cain has also toured playing at festivals with Indian-born sarod player, Praashekh Borkar in the Praashekh Quartet. In his various groups he has been a mainstay performer at the Fairbridge Music Festival for the past 15 years. 

Based in Fremantle WA, Cain plays an array of wind instruments, including saxophones, clarinets, flutes and ethnic woodwinds as well as wind and percussion instruments of his own invention, many of which are featured on his largely solo multi-woodwind recordings, Reeds and his more recent, Cameos.

Recent and Past Activity

2023   Performance and instrument-making workshops with LIMA (Launceston, Tasmania)

2023   Awesome Arts Musician in Residence - Punmu & Kunawarritji (RAWA Lands)

2022          Member, Eastwinds, MVIS NSW north metro tour

2022   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS Victorian tour

2922   Musician, Awesome Arts Gascoyne Junction PS residency

2022   Member, Eastwinds Musica Viva Pannawonica (WA) short residency

2022   Member, Zagoria Quartet, Nanga Festival (WA)

2022   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS North QLD regional tour

2022   Member, Awakenings Ensemble, concert at Duke of George

2022   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS NSW south-west/metro north tour

2022   Presenter, World Music Cafe Workshop

2022   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS Government House concert

2022   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS Pannawonica residency (WA)

2021   Released his solo cd, Cameos (Parenthèses Records)

2021   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS tour NSW Metro

2921    Member, Eastwinds, MVIS tour South Australia

2021   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS tour NSW north region

2021   Member, Awakenings Ensemble, Hemispheres Series Concert PSAS

2021   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS Government House concert

2021   Member. Eastwinds, MVIS Kalgoorlie/Meredin tour

2921   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS Yanchep schools residencies  (Yanchep Lagoon PS, Yanchep Beach PS)

2021   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS schools residency, Dudley Park P.S.

2021   Member, Eastwinds, MVIS schools residency, Falcon P.S.

2021   Member, Zagoria Trio, Perth Zoo Concert

2121   Member, Zagoria Quartet, Duke of George

2021    Member, Swara Synthesis concert with Avra Bannerjee

2021   Duo with Ilan Zagoria - Melville Midwinter Concert, Point Walter

2020   Member, Praashekh Quartet, Fairbridge Festival WA

2020   Member, Praashekh Quartet, Albany Harbourside Festival & Wolery concert (WA)

2020   Member, Eastwinds, Musica Viva in Schools - live Zoom concerts: QLD regional schools

2020   Member, Eastwinds , Musica Viva in Schools - live Zoom concerts: NSW regional schools

2020   Member, Eastwinds , Musica Viva in Schools - live Zoom concerts: Esperance schools

2020   Member, Eastwinds,  Musica Viva in Schools Metro concerts (WA)

2020   Member Eastwinds: PSAS  Hemispheres - Yasukazu Kano collaboration concert

2020          Convenor, Hemispheres (world music series): Derek Gripper (South Africa)f

2019          Member, Tapestri Tour - Albany/Denmark (Baluji Shrivastav, Lucky Oceans et. al)

2019   Member, Tapestri Tour- Ellington Jazz Club (Baluji Shrivastav, Praashekh, Lucky Oceans)

2019   Member, Praashekh Quartet, National Folk Festival, Canberra

2019   Convenor, Hemispheres (world music series): Manran, Jigjam, BandItaliana_

2019   Member, Eastwinds - Ellington Jazz Club

2019   Member, Eastwinds MVIS touring: Victoria, mid-west WA, SW WA and metro schools

2019   WASO Teaching artist, Onslow (WA) recurrent residency

2019     Member, Eastwinds MVIS Kalgoorlie region tour

2018   Artist-In-Residence, Griffyn Ensemble (Canberra): Innovative instruments project

2018   Member, Junkadelic, HonkOz Festival, Woolongong, Vic

2018   WASO Teaching Artist, Onslow P.S. 

2018          Eastwinds Musica Viva in Schools show development 

2018   Member, Eastwinds, HonkOz WA festival

2018   Member, Zagoria Quartet, Harbourside Festival (Albany WA)

2018          Denmark Festival of the Voice: Praashekh Quartet

2018          Member, Praashekh Quartet: Fairbridge Festival WA

2018          Member, Eastwinds, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre

2018   Musician-In-Residence, Safety Bay P.S. completion of sound playground community project

2017          Musician-in-Residence, Safety Bay Primary - construction of sound playground project

2017          Nomination, WAM World Music Award: Praashekh Quartet

2017          Member, Eastwinds, Festival of the Voice, Denmark WA

2017          Member, Praashekh Quartet, Harboursound Festival, Albany WA; & Wolery, Denmark WA

2017          Member, Eastwinds, Hemispheres - Music of the World series, PS Art Space

2017          Member, Praashekh Quartet, Fairbridge Festival WA

2017          Praashekh Quartet,  cd release, Swara Blend

2017          Perth International Arts Festival: Eastwinds, Winthrop Hall Gardens

2017          Sound Scripts Periodical Vol 5: Dr Robin Ryan - Forging a Singular Musical Path

                   The Compositional Explorations of Mark Cain (WA New Music Archive)

2017          Convenor, Hemispheres - Music of the World Music Series, PS Art Space

2017          Member, Eastwinds - opening TASA Conference (Australian Sociological Assoc.) UWA

2016          Perfect Beat periodical: Dr Robin Ryan In Conversation with Mark Cain

                   "Kernels of Discovery - Original Musical Instruments and Acoustic Sound

                   Designs (Perfect Beat (online) ISSN 1836-0343)                                

2016          Member, Eastwinds, National Folk Festival Canberra – performances/workshops

2016   Member, Eastwinds, Nanga Music Festival 

2016          Member, Eastwinds, Fairbridge Festival (WA) 

2016          Member, Persian Music Collective, Fairbridge Festival (WA) 

2016          Member, Eastwinds at the Ellington Jazz Club             

2016          WAM Song of the Year winners (World Music): Eastwinds             

2016          WASO Teaching Artist (with Paul Tanner) Onslow WA    

Bands (1985 - 2016)


Zagoria Quartet

Praashekh Quartet

Awakenings Ensemble


The flying Carpathians

Club Qahira

Nova Ensemble (directed by David Pye)

Ozmosis & Ozmosis Street Band

Nova Ensemble

Miracle Band X (led byJamie David)

AC/PVC (with Peter Keelan)

Windcheaters (with Lee Buddle)

Orchestra of the Global Nomads

Bulgarity (with Ross Bolleter)

The Elastic Band

Wanderlust Trio (with Phil Kakulas)

Caravan (with Andy Copeman)

Language (with Diego Bosco)

Slices of Albert (with Tos Mahoney & Ross Bolleter)

Rita Menendez Group

Tall Stories (with Linsey Pollak, Kimberley/Pilbara Tour 1985)

The Ran Dan Club (Derby residency, 1991)

Toucan Tango (with Steve and Ros Barnes)

Eduardo Cossio trio/quartet

Playback Theatre

Festival Appearances


Taiwan 1994 [Austrade]  

JakArt Festival 2001 [Jakarta]  

Singapore 1998 & 2003 [Musica Viva touring]


Across the Top Tour [Musica Viva] [WA, NT & QLD]

Perth International Arts Festival [WA]

'Beat It' Synergy Percussion Series [Sydney]

National Folk Festiva (ACT and Victoria)

Fringe Benefit Festival [Sydney]

Maleny/Woodforde Festival [Queensland]

Bougainvillea [Darwin]

Launceston [Tasmania]

Port Fairy [Victoria]

Brunswick [Victoria]

REV - Real/Elecrtronic/Virtual Festival [Brisbane] 

National Folk Festivals [Victoria & ACT & WA]

Adelaide Come Out Youth Festival [SA]

Evos New Music Festival [WA]

Nanga Festival

The Totally Huge New Music Festival [WA]

Awesome Festival [WA]

Toodyay Festival [WA] 

Fairbridge Festivals [WA] - numerously

York Jazz Festival

Nannup Music Festival 

Festival of the Wind [Esperance]

Augusta River Festival

Harbourside Festival [Albany] 

Harboursound Concert Series [Albany]

Denmark Festival of the Voice