Winners of the 2016
WAM Song of the Year Award (World Music) and performers at two of this
country's major folk music festivals, The National Folk Music Festival,
Canberra and Fairbridge, WA, Eastwinds are international boundary riders
breathing new life into old traditions.
Four of Eastwinds
members are overseas-born. Superb
vocalist, Kristiina Maalaps, hails from the Baltic nation of Estonia. Her remarkable voice draws strongly on both
the Estonian runic tradition and neighboring Scandinavian influences and
beyond. Persian ney (flute) and daf
(frame drum) maestro, Esfandiar Shahmir, is one of his country's outstanding
younger generation musicians who in addition to playing with Eastwinds,
continues to play in one of Iran's leading Persian classical ensembles, Mastan.
Didgeridoo maestro, Sanshi, has an
enviable reputation both as a player and promoter of the didgeridoo tradition
in Australia - all the more remarkable given his Japanese heritage. Whilst English-born, former music festival
Director, Steve Barnes (guitar and cittern), is a highly seasoned performer and
saxophonist and multi-reedman, Mark Cain is well known both as a musician and
educator with a long and distinguished pedigree in world music and as a maker
of innovative instruments.
In 2015 Eastwinds released their debut self-titled CD. Their
music traverses Persian, Estonian, Balkan and also undeniably Australian
sonorities. Their music breathes new
life into old traditions and will transport the listener to other
lands and a new geography of sound.
PRASHEKH BORKAR QUARTET
Puna born, Praashekh Borkar is amongst the
finest sarodists of the younger generation of Indian musicians.
taking serious lessons at the age of seven from his father and guru, Pt.Shekhar
Borkar and over the past decade has garnered numerous awards and considerable
popularity for his music. Besides being true to the Indian traditional form,
Praashekh also experiments with world music and has been composing and fusing
his melodies with Western and Arabic forms. In the past three years he has
spent significant time in Australia and during this period has worked regularly
with a quartet featuring electric bassist, Roy Martinez, percussionist, Jamie David and multi-reedman, Mark Cain. This band has been a vehicle for Praashekh
to explore his own invented form of the traditional sarod he terms the E-sarod
(a smaller adapted and amplified version). The quartet play regularly at the
Gypsy Tapas House in Fremantle with a repertoire that includes some traditional
material, but mainly original compositions of Praashekh and fellow group
In the Pesian classical tradition the term,
Daramad, refers to the process of beginning, appearing or emerging. Daramad emerged
from musical meetings between musicians at Fremantle’s world music venue,
Kulcha. The quartet explores the confluence between the music of the Middle
East and improvised jazz and in particular, the modal common ground between
these two traditions. It features Iranian saz and guitar maestro, Reza Mirzaei,
his fellow countryman, Saeed Danesh on tombek, daf and various percussion,
Michael Zolker, oud and eastern percussion, Phil Waldron, double bass and
multi-instrumental reedman, Mark Cain. Surprising and unusual combinations of
strings and wind textures are at the heart of the group’s sound, as are some of
the challenging time signatures they play. OZMOSIS (Musica Viva in Schools)
Hispanic, Balkan and jazz-inspired music from the global fringe
Ozmosis is a West Australian quartet of
intrepid border-crossers. The group draws upon their vast experience of
Hispanic, Latin American and Balkan music to create vibrant performance using
original compositions. Masters of a surprising array of traditional and
invented woodwinds, strings and percussion, the ensembles performances are
laced with jazz improvisation and delightful spontaneous audience interaction.
The Hispanic and Balkan threads in the music reflect the personalities,
histories and interests of the players. Drawing upon their experiences, the
group creates a wild and wonderful intercontinental journey, extending beyond
tradition and nationally. Ozmosis are: Tim Chambers (guitar, bajo sexto, guitarrra), Mark Cain (saxophones, tarogato, chalumeau, gemshorn, whistle), Amanda Dean (bass thongophone, guitar, djembe) and Paul Tanner (vibraphone, cahon, djembe). Mark and Tim's duo cd, Ozmosis, was released in 2008.
OZMOSIS STEET BAND
The Beat of Barcelona… Street music from Catalonia, North East Spain, on ancient reed and percussion instruments…perfect for outdoor festivals, street parades and family oriented festivals. Share the Mediterranean festive spirit.
This is energetic festive music is traditionally played to accompany an ancient tradition and sport, castelles, that involves the creation n of human multi-storied castles. Taught to the group by Catalan musician, Oriol Batet, this music is played on remarkable woodwind instruments called grallas (pron: grayl-yas) and the instruments OSB play are Australian-crafted by local Fremantle maker, Mark Binns based on traditional instruments from Spain. The gralla is a double-reed folk oboe or shawm that is native to Catalonia and used to accompany Castells (human castles). OSB perform in outdoor settings and festivals without amplification.
NOVA ENSEMBLE (Archive)
NOVA ENSEMBLE, founded
by David Pye, began 30 years ago playing a repertoir of 20th century percussion
works is a contemporary music group based in
Fremantle, Western Australia. The group's music explored aspects of music
technology, contemporary instrument design and building, cross-cultural music,
collaborative composition and improvisation. The members of the group were all
involved in creating repertoire for the group, and each brought diverse skills
to our performances.
I became a member of
Nova in 1991 and worked with the group in concert, workshop and touring
settings up to 2006. Over this time I was involved in designing and
composing for new instruments built from a range of industrial plastics
[predominantly PVC plumbing and electrical pipe], following on from my early
work in creative instrument design and performance, firstly, with Tall
Stories , then AC/PVC throughout the late 1980's.
relationship between Nova and Musica Viva
Australia over fifteen years enabled the group to perform in
schools and communities throughout Australia and Singapore. During my tenure
with Nova I worked on numerous projects that included both instrument making
and composition, including three Musica Viva in Schools shows over a fifteen
year period: Boxes, Trash and Pockets. Other
performance projects included: Junkelan, a
large theatre-based show [written as part of a creative development grant
from the West Australian Department for the Arts - ArtsWA], Inventions and Etchings [commissioned
by 2 Dance Plus], and both Ritual Fragments and The
Lament of Gilgamesh [commissioned by the Festival of Perth].
Some of our repertoire of those years has been recorded: the CD Junkelan was
released in 1998, with Pockets was
released in November 2001.
Another offshoot Nova project was the Orchestra of the Global Nomads, featuring a larger band that brought together the wide ranging interests of it members in a composing and performing collective. Their music brought together unlikely an combination of gamelan percussion and pvc thongophones combining with winds and strings. A group of great potential, but costly to maintain, unfortunately, it couldn't be sustained. The results of this collaboration were released on an eponymously titled cassette in the mid-90s.
I first performed
alongside members of Nova as a member of AC/PVC in the studios of the ABC,
Perth in 1989 in a piece called Mimic Time witten by Peter Hadley. This was the
beginning of a long association for me. Nova then joined AC/PVC in 1990 at the
Ozone Bar in Northbridge, Perth, in what turned out to be AC/PVC's last
concert. In the following year Nova invited me to join and the rest, as they
say, is history.
During my tenure with
the group, Nova toured to Singapore twice, as part of a Musica Viva touring
programme in schools, Brunei, Taiwan and we performed at the JakArt Festival in
Jakarta, Indonesia. The group also performed extensively in metropolitan and
regional WA as well as Northern Territory, Tasmania, Queensland and Sydney.
I would like to personally thank Nova Ensemble founder and percussionist, David Pye for the for the enormous creative energy he gave to guiding Nova of those many years of my involvement as a composer, administrator and catalyst - onya David!
Visit the nova ensemble website
CLUB QAHIRA (Archive)
Club Qahira is a flexible lineup that centres around the inimitable bellydancer, Rose (Rose Ottaviano). Together they perform a stylish programme of music and dance from the Middle East, fused with the spontaneity of improvisation.The music is performed on both western and eastern instruments, including the famed fretless Arabic lute, the oud, the double-reed Turkish oboe, zurna and hourglass-shaped drum, the Arabic tabla. As well as traditional middle-eastern repertoire, Club Qahira also play the music of some of the leading contemporary composers from that part of the world, including names such as Anouar Brahem (Tunisia), Rabih Abou-Khalil (Lebanon), Kayhan Kalhor (Iran), Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Okay Temiz (Turkey).
Rose, is regarded as one of Australia's most sought after performers and instructors, whose technique and innovative choreography have garnered international regard. A disciplined professional, she has extensive experience in performing and entertaining audiences from restaurants to gala openings and large theatrical settings both in Australia and overseas.
Together Club Qahira journey through various Middle Eastern music and dance traditions, bringing innovation and flair to ancient and modern influences.
THE FLYING CARPATHIANS (Archive)
Voted best World Music Act at the 2008 WAMI Awards, The
Flying Carpathians played a contagiously energetic fusion of music from
central and eastern Europe with a uniquely Australian touch.
dazzling array of instruments at their fingertips and influences from the Balkan
dance floors and beyond, theirs was an unstoppable flying carpet ride of
exuberant roots music! This versatile quartet featured violin, cello,
guitar, saxophone, as well as electric bass, mandolin and
percussion. They also introduced traditional instruments such as
the Macedonian gaida (bagpipe) andTurkish zurna (oboe). And the Blurb says…
Meet the The Flying Carpathians at the crossroads, where
village music meets Rom gyand jazz. And, yes, we also get down and
dirty to teach dances in traditional style – this is music where your feet
do the talking! So hold tight to that flying carpet... you're in for quite a
[This was a band of fine musicians and friends who just sparked together.
Had we not decided to up stumps and live at various corners of the known
universe, we would still be out there wowing them at the Gypsy Tapas House in
Fremantle as well as weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs. More Balkan than
Carpathian, but we certainly knew how to fly!]
The band comprised: Tony Lane (fiddle, guitar,
mandolin), Jamie David (guitar, djembe, kora, balafon), Sara Peet (el. bass,
cello) and me (reeds
MARK CAIN'S WORLD OF POLYMUSIC
My musical signature is my passion for
making instruments from bits of PVC pipe and other recyclable materials (for more see AC/PVC under Projects in the menu at top). The
refinement of instruments I have created from such unconventional sources has
found its way into much of my work, particularly in music education. Over two
decades I have performed in schools thoughout Australia with Nexus Arts agency in Melbourne and through the national Musica Viva in Schools
programme. My instruments have been heard and played by children and adults in
some of Aboriginal Australia's most remote centres as well as in clustered and
densely populated schools and communities in Singapore and Indonesia.
Promoted since the mid-90s by Nexus
Victoria, my solo show, The World of PolyMusic, is as much a hands-on
workshop as a performance that relishes in the simple, often idiosyncratic
discoveries that have dawned on instrument makers over the centuries. What
unfolds for the audience is an improbable Plastic Fantastic Orchestra of
whimsical, innovative, yet sometimes oddly familiar instruments that explode
some of the myths behind musical sophistication. "Through engaging humour
and the occasional flight of musical virtuosity, The World of PolyMusic, shows us that sometimes
the simplest discoveries using the simplest materials are the most exciting...
Mark Cain's World of PolyMusic celebrates the "joie de vivre" of musical discovery. Materials
such as the humble plumber's drain pipe and other recyclable plastics are used
to create a wondrous orchestra of outrageous and innovative wind and percussion
With its emphasis on hands-on participation, experimentation and
listening, this entertaining presentation also offers students the opportunity
Gain an insight into how instruments are made and played.
- Learn some
of the science of instrument-making and sound production.
- Participate in
playing instruments from Mark's Plastic Fantastic Orchestra.
What the Schools Say - Feedback to Nexus Arts
The children loved it. They like his inventions and were enthralled and amazed. There
was brilliant and clever participation which was good at all levels. Even grade 6’s were
enthralled. Awesome. Mooroolbark East PS (Vic)
St Lukes Primary Lalor (Vic)
Excellent. Sensational. Mark Cain would be well worth getting back again. On a
score of 1 – 10, it was an 11+. Fantastic! MacFarlane PS (NT)
Mark Cain was a serious ‘groover’. We had a
wonderful time and enjoyed the performance this much… St James PS Vermont (Vic)
The children were enthralled by what was offered
– the whole experience was outstanding. Thanks for sharing your talents. City Beach PS (WA)
Mark’s interactive show was brilliant in its simplicity. It
was amazing (and refreshing)
to see an
audience of 260 children totally captivated by a performer who had no fancy costumes, special effects,
amplification or technological “tricks”. Ormond PS (Vic)
"Mark Cain's musical
presentation was outstanding and the best cultural experience I have been
Salmon Gums Primary School (WA)
inspirational workshop atmosphere gave a great hands-on experience"
Albanvale Primary School (Vic)
"A great experience for
children and teachers"
St Francis of Assisi Primary School (Vic)
Bookings: Nexus Arts
freecall: 1800 675 897 email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.nexusarts.com.au
WIND CHEATERS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF
Musical innovators, Mark Cain and Lee Buddle take a fanciful journey through the tangents and cul-de-sacs of wind instrument invention past, present and future.
Versatile and offbeat woodwind
maestros, Lee Buddle and Mark Cain, share a wealth of experience in jazz,
new music, ethno-folk and classical idioms. Now they push the envelope just a
little further in this "journey through the tangents and cul-de-sacs of wind
music past, present and future". They play wind instruments you've never
Nothing can prepare you for the
originality and sheer ingenuity of this delightful, theatrical and humorous
concert in which a fabulous array of ancient, modern and newly-invented wind
instruments share centre stage with two very engaging performers.
Fresh from delighting audiences at the
Brisbane Powerhouse and the Harbourside Festival, Albany, this finely crafted
performance of original music composed by Windcheaters, will leave you [and the
"Mark and Lee are brilliant. In
over 20 years teaching it was the best incursion I've seen"
City Beach Primary School
A Brief History of Wind was a natural, if somewhat belated evolution of my work with AC/PVC and working with fellow reed player, Lee Buddle, in Windcheaters, as we called our duo,was one of the most exploratory and fun times of my musical career. We made what we felt were wonderful discoveries. Creating our compressed-air panpipes in both soprano and bass forms was, at least for us, revelatory. Our innovation (Lee's idea) was to create a kind of lip structure over which a burst of compressed air could pass across the top of an upright (panpipe) tube. Lee felt the role of the lip (at least, its curvature) was critical in playing a flute, so we experimented by placing small sections of plastic hose at the tops of the panpipes at the point at which the compressed air was directed to the edge of the upright panpipe tubes. We could then use tuned "feeder" tubes (of various lengths) to channel the compressed air at the perfect angle into upright resonating panpipes where the air would roll over the tops of the "lips" to create breathy, but clear tones. Because compressed air makes a noise when blown through a horizontal length of pvc tube, by tuning the feeder tubes to the same pitch as the upright panpipe tubes, we were able to largely cancel out any pitch conflict between the two. One challenge was playing the bass set in time, because the lower notes would generally "speak" a little more slowly than the higher pitched pipes. On this set one had to play slightly ahead of the tempo to actually play in time.
Some Foo for thought...
One family of instruments we had a great deal of fun making were our "giant foos". In the past, I've made a small clarinet-like instrument that uses a balloon and film cannister to create a reed-like sound. I called this the foo-foo pipe. [Apparently, in the 1930s there was a maritime kazoo orchestra in Fremantle called the Fremantle Fufu Band]. The genesis of this instrument I discovered whilst travelling in Indonesia in the early 90s visiting a friend, percussionist Ron Reeves, in Bandung. In subsequent years many a foo-foo pipe was made with children in my instrument making workshops and this continues today. The foo-foo pipe is a fine example of inventive recycling and demonstrates with great clarity and simplicity some of the connections between music and science.
Extrapolation from the small foo-foo pipe led to the innovation of our Contrabass Foo, a very large (4 meter) slide didgeridoo-like instrument, activated by an inflated rubber glove and the aforementioned balloon reed - very low and very awesome!
But perhaps our most challenging instrument in performance was our contra-six-person-flute! Visualise a three meter long flute with a diameter of 150mm and imagine channeling compressed air against the edge of a huge flute fipple hole (blowing hole) at one end and having six members of the audience closing one large hole each with their palms (see right). This part of the performance relied on each 'player' using the palm of one hand to completely close their hole to ensure an accurate seal, just as a key closes over a flute hole - brilliant when it worked, problematic when it didn't. To achieve the lowest note (a very, very low G), all hands needed to be perfectly closed over their holes and the air pressure from the compressed air gun at the fipple end nuanced to a gentle flow - an occasion of rare and wondrous beauty when it worked! Again, we used a small section of hose tube for our "lip" at the blowing edge of the very large fipple hole to improve the tone.
The climax of the show featured volunteers building chords on the two sets of compressed air panpipes whilst the drone of the contabass foo was played by Lee by pedalling a foot pump to inflate a large rubber glove that, in turn, forced a continuous stream of air against a vibrating balloon reed. At the same time he was playing bass clarinet and intermittently sliding the end of the contrabass foo to shift the drone pitch... Sounds exhausting?
In the meantime, I connected a length of compressed air hose to an inflated car tyre. At the adjustable handgun end of that hose I connected my "surgical glove bagpipe", tuned in the key of C. A member of the audience was then invited to to control the air supply from the hose to the bagpipe, by squeezing the handgun whilst standing on the tyre. At the same time, I played a melody on the chanter of the bagpipe to the accompaniment of a swelling pedal drone. The crescendo arrived when something of a C-chord emerged through the bagpipe melody. The climax would be that sustained finale C-chord... ideally.
Sometimes this was a sublime moment...
Sometimes not... as in the case of the over zealous audience volunteer who over-inflated the surgical glove on the bagpipe, busting it on that penultimate moment of the final cadenza!
Ah, the beauty of experimental instruments!
Our encore was suitably down market. We quickly donned raincoats and caps, whilst audience members showered us with water pistols at close range, whilst I sang "Singing in the Rain" through a toilet bowl-as-amplifier accompanied by Lee on fu-fu pipe (film canister clarinet).
Just as with AC/PVC earlier, this project felt like some clandestine backyard music laboratory in search of some fanciful holy grail. A Brief History of Wind was for us both an enthralling and playful journey into the black and mysterious hole of musical instrument invention.
Touring With SIROCCO (2012)
Sirocco, founded in 1980 in Sydney by Bill O'Toole, remain perhaps Australia's most renowned, long lived and loved world music group. Sirocco invited me to join them on their Musica Viva Albany/Esperance regional tour in 2012 (as a replacement for their regular wind player, Paul Jarman) for what was originally to be a two-week tour of schools in the southern region. Unfortunately, just a week prior to the tour commencement I suffered a bout of pneumonia and was hospitalised. As fortune would have it, I was able to recover sufficiently to join the group for the second week. It was an opportunity I just didn't want to forego. Playing alongside members of a band that were something of a household name and in Australian music (and players I really admired) was great experience and I have fond memories of that trip. Sirocco have finally hung up their boots and this, I think, was their swan song tour with Musica Viva.
An improvising duo comprising Ross
Bolleter [accordian] and Mark Cain [saxophones], Bulgarity invests a
rich vein of Balkan and klezmer-influenced music with a highly personal
improvisational style that defies category. Whilst some of their repertoir
draws from vibrant village music and dance traditions, the duo take
considerable liberties to make this music their own. It's risk-taking acoustic
music that lives in the moment.Ross and Mark are longtime musical colleagues and friends who have played in many settings together over the years. Their first group, Slices of Albert (with Toss Mahoney) played at the 1983 Fringe Benefit Improvisation Festival in Sydney and Newcastle. Ross and Mark have played together in numerous festivals and tours including the Perth Festival of Improvised Music, the Evos New Music Festival and Tura New Music Festival. Mark and Ross share love of Jewish klezmer music, Balkan folk and spontaneous improvisation.
Ross Bolleter is an extrordinary
pianist & accordionist whose many recordings featuring his ground breaking work on ruined piano can be accessed from his website. He remains a great personal friend and inspiration and intermittently we continue to play together.
TOUCAN TANGO with Steve and Ros Barnes (Archive)
RITA MENENDEZ GROUP (Archive)
CRAB TANGO with Tim Chambers
WANDERLUST TRIO (Archive)
TALL STORIES (with Linsey Pollak)