© Roman Knie 2016
© Roman Knie 2016



MARA alias Dagmar Kochendörfer chose the cello at the age of seven because "it was so big and had a great warm sound". While she was trained as a classical cellist during her school years, participated in competitions such as "Jugend musiziert" and debuted at age 17 with 'Kol Nidrei' by Max Bruch as a soloist with the Gera Philharmonic Orchestra, she improvised on the parental piano and played Pop songs and film music by ear.


In her studies for violoncello (Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt in Weimar/Germany and Conservatoire National Supérior de Musique et Danse in Lyon/France), she not only studied the classical cello literature but also analized the chords of the Bach Suites or secretly arranged Beatles songs for string quartet - as minor subjects she received lessons in piano, vocals, percussion and rhythmics.


This was followed by several appointments in various German state orchestras (Staatskapelle Weimar, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden, Philharmonisches Orchester Mainz, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Philharmonisches Orchester Ulm), but the desire for creative work remained.


The spark to transfer improvisation to the cello finally spilled over in the master class with the German jazz cellist Stephan Braun at the Cello Academy in Rutesheim, where she played Mark Summers 'Julie-O' under thunderous applause at the final concert in the Rutesheimer Festhalle. Inspired to learn more about these new techniques and to delve deeper into jazz and other genres, she completed her studies in "Improvisation for Strings" at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz, where she received lessons with jazz cellist Susanne Paul a.o..


Since then, her repertoire is growing inexorably, she is composing new music or arranging her favorite songs for cello and vocals. Since 2018 she takes singing lessons with Amy Leverenz and was invited to perform 'Blackbird' as a soloist at the final concert of the international "New Directions Cello Festival" at the WDR-Funkhaus in Cologne. In October 2018, she received a coaching by celebrated crossover cellist Tina Guo (Hans Zimmer tour) in Los Angeles and plans to record her first CD in early 2019.