Bio

The Ensemble Diaspora is a culturally diverse World music ensemble that originally came together at MDA (Multicultural Development Australia) in Brisbane, Australia in 2013.

The repertoire includes pieces featuring the whole ensemble – using melodic and rhythmic motifs from diverse traditions as a departure point into an impromptu, improvised ‘music of the moment’ that also reflects the rich cultural diversity and fertile creative space that is Australia.

The set includes dynamic solo and duo pieces – closely profiling the respective traditions of its members – including Tibetan, Celtic, European, Iraqi, Iranian and Zimbabwean music as well as original compositions reflecting diverse modalities.

The group also symbolises the ongoing wave of human migration or diaspora that has taken place across the world in our present and previous eras due to a broad range of situations, whether natural or socio-political. Most importantly, it symbolises how cultural diversity can and should be a force for good, via shared creativity, cooperation, empathy and enterprise.

Ensemble Diaspora line-up chosen from (depending on availability):

Sebastian Flynn – England – (Fiddle, Percussion)
Martin Reese – England – (Banjo, Mandolin, Mandola)
Arash Zanganeh – Iran – (Chaqana Claypot, Daf, Percussion)
Wendy Lang – Australia (Clarinet, Irish Whistles, Voice)
Zannah – Australia – (Voice, piano)
John Druery – Australia – (Upright Electric Bass, Bodhran)
Cieavash Arean – Iran (Kemanche, Tar, Voice)
Francis Gilfedder – Australia (Winds)

The Ensemble is also joined by occasional guest artists including renowned Tibetan singer Tenzin Choegyal, Iraqi Joza Spike Fiddle player, Nawres Al Freh, Zimbabwean singer and Mbira player, Tichawona Mashawa and Harp player Nicole Tate.

The MDA Ensemble Diaspora is available for festivals, concerts, culturally diverse events, Citizenship Ceremonies and public celebrations. It is also ideal for corporate conferences and events, where a representation of cultural diversity is part of the ethos of a collaborative venture.

The ensemble line-up is also ideal for schools, conservatoria, museums etc. – offering educational musical performance demonstrations, workshops and informative background presentations on the diverse range of musical instruments and their respective ethnic traditions in history –
providing unique insight into their culture of origin.

ENSEMBLE DIASPORA MUSICIANS 

Sebastian Flynn
Sebastian has performed in a number of traditional music line ups in Australia and the UK – performing Celtic and East European music on fiddle. He is the founder of the Ensemble Diaspora via his work with MDA (Multicultural Development Australia) in Brisbane.

Martin Reese
Martin is a highly versatile string player – articulate on a range of instruments, most notably Mandolin, Mandola and Banjo. He has been a mainstay of the Brisbane traditional music scene over many years and is a member of the Irish band The Jar.

Arash Zanganeh
Percussionist Arash Zanganeh is one of Australia’s leading exponents of Persian music and a prominent representative of the cultural life of the Iranian community in Brisbane. He is the founder (with Leila Honari) of the Sufi Art Group in Brisbane, with the goal of preserving the art and culture of love and devotion.

Wendy Lang
Wendy brings her versatile clarinet, Irish whistle and vocal skills to Ensemble Diaspora. She has been playing in Brisbane’s multicultural music scene for around 15 years, exploring Celtic, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Klezmer and Scandinavian music. She is also a songwriter who draws on a melting pot of folk, pop, jazz and classical music influences. Wendy and Zannah perform Celtic and Scandinavian-inspired music together as Hjarta.

Zannah (Susanna O’Leary)
Zannah is the Ensemble’s most recent addition, adding her powerful and passionate vocals to the mix. She has studied Persian, Celtic and Flamenco singing techniques, and is a pianist, flautist, and award-winning contemporary songwriter. Outside of the ensemble, she performs and records her own solo music, and with other groups including The India to Spain Project.

John Druery
John is the foundation of the rhythm section of the Ensemble Diaspora. His bodiless electric upright bass and percussion solidly underpins the diverse melodies and time signatures that the group explores. He is a member of the Irish Band The Jar.

Francis Gilfedder
Francis is a uniquely talented multi-instrumentalist with a special interest in Asian winds and percussion. He is much travelled in his search for a wide curiosity of ethnic wind instruments.

Cieavash Arean
Originally from Iran, Cieavash has been in Australia for over 20 years. He is well known throughout Australia as a multi-instrumentalist and singer, interpreting Middle and Near Eastern music traditions, especially those of his native Iran. Cieavash has performed at festivals and concerts throughout the country.