Riverside welcomes the world premiere of Zashto? in March as part of SIMA’s Jazz Now Summer 22 Festival.
The theme of the Mara! Big Band’s new 60-minute musical suite “Zashto?” (“Why?” in Bulgarian language) is the experience of migration to Australia and the spectre of incarceration (physical and psychological) that has hovered over each wave of migration in the past 230 years.
Through the stories of three women who arrived in Australia at very diﬀerent times in our history, we investigate the fact that deprivation of liberty or trauma has scarred the migration experience of many in our community and we pose the question “Zashto?”
The ‘protagonists’ are a young female convict who was arrested in Ireland at the age of 16 and transported in 1803, a Bulgarian migrant and an Iranian refugee. The libretto is drawn from poetry and texts written by or about them in their native languages (Irish Gaelic, Bulgarian and Farsi) giving a window into their experiences of displacement, hope, longing, despair and resignation in their struggle to forge a new life in this ‘lucky country’.
The work was commissioned by Mara Kiek in 2020 with support from CreateNSW and features compositions by current and former members of the Mara! band – Sandy Evans, Paul Cutlan, Andrew Robson, Tony Gorman and Llew Kiek and scored for the 12-piece line-up of the new Mara! Big Band.