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 2019 Eastwinds will begin a tenure with Musica Viva in Schools performing nationally in schools as a quartet. It's another great development for the group and an opportunity to perform throughout Australia. 


In 2015 Eastwinds
 released their debut self-titled CD and in 2018 their second cd,
Confluence has been released.  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. Eastwinds recordings are available on Bandcamp and CD Baby.


Puna born, Praashekh Borkar is amongst the finest sarod players of the younger generation of Indian musicians. He is an outstanding sarodist who has invented his own esarod, a smaller amplified version to complement his playing on the revered Hindustani instrument of Mogul origins. Praashekh Borkar hails from a sarod playing family of musicians (including his father, PT Shekar Borkar,  a disciple of the legendary Ali Akbar Khan and his younger brother, Abhishek). 

In this group Praashekh is joined by the electrifying tabla whizz, Shivakumar Balakrishnan, multi-reedman, Mark Cain and the precociously talented young Balinese bassist, Wayan Dana. The group played at the 2019 National Folk Festival in Canberra; at both the 2017 and 2018 Fairbridge Festivals and the Festival of Voice (Denmark WA 2018). The Praashekh Quartet have collaborated on stage at Fairbridge with Oi Dipnoi (Sicily), Fromseier Hockings (Denmark), Ten Strings and a Goatskin (Canada) and Will Pound and Eddy Jay (UK).  In 2019 members of the Praashekh Quartet toured as Tepistri (with pedal steel guitarist, Lucky Oceans) in South West WA with famed blind British sitar player, Baluji Shrivastav.  This quartet is rapidly garnering a national reputation.


South African-born guitarist, Ilan Zagoria developed his driving and intricate southern African guitar style growing up in Zimbabwe and since 1988 he has lived Australia. He skilfully blends music of southern African traditions with that of his sephardic Jewish ancestry, as well as his love of jazz. Performing in Australia he has supported artists such as Blur, Zap Mama, Yothu Yindi, Natasha Atlas and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In Perth he has been a member of the Sundiata Marimba Band, African Music Congress and Shangara Jive. He currently plays in a duo with Mark Cain and in Zagoria Quartet with Cain on reeds,  bassist, Wayan Dana and percussionist, Cain Muntz. Zagoria has recorded a number of albums, including his most recent release, Home.

DARAMAD (Archive)

Photo: Alma Sarhan Photography

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) (Archive)

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 experience of Hispanic, Latin American and Balkan music to create vibrant repertoire of largely original composition. 


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. Osmosis performed in the Musica Viva in Schools Program (2008 - 1013)                                                              

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.


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 participants climbing on each other's shoulders to create multi-storied human 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 Catalonia. The gralla is a double-reed folk oboe or shawm that is native to Catalonia, though variants are found in neighbouring regions. OSB perform in outdoor settings and festivals without the need for amplification. 


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 [1985], then AC/PVC throughout the late 1980's.

A productive 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 was a lineup that centred around the inimitable bellydancer, Rose (Rose Ottaviano) and featured oud player, Michael Zolker and Mark Cain. Together they performed a stylish programme of music and dance from the Middle East, fused with the spontaneity of improvisation.

The music wasperformed 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 played 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 journeyed through various Middle Eastern music and dance traditions, bringing innovation and flair to ancient and modern influences.



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.                                                             

A 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 ride.

[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).


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 Arts in 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... and musical".

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 instruments.

With its emphasis on hands-on participation, experimentation and listening, this entertaining presentation also offers students the opportunity to:
 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. AwesomeMooroolbark East PS  (Vic)


"Innovative and inspiring" 
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 involved in" 
Salmon Gums Primary School (WA)

"Magnificent, innovative, 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:


WIND   (Archive)

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 dreamed of.

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 musicians] breathless!

"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 fun making were our "giant foos". In the past, I had 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. [Quite recently, I was amazed to discover that 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

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. 


CARAVAN (Archive)

TOUCAN TANGO with Steve and Ros Barnes (Archive)


CRAB TANGO with Tim Chambers


TALL STORIES (with Linsey Pollak)