A San Francisco native, Marla has become one of the prominent voices of the mandolin in Irish music. She is a dynamic performer and a sought after teacher. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar, bouzouki, and button accordion. (She had the singular honor to be featured as Miss March in the 2011 Accordion Babes Pin-up Calendar.) She also sings and writes music, and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. In addition to playing and writing music, Marla is a textile artist. For a look at her work please click here.
Marla's main musical endeavor is a collaboration with her husband, guitarist Bruce Victor, under the name Noctambule. Bruce and Marla released their debut CD together, Travel in the Shadows, in 2013, and followed it up in 2015 with The Waking. Both recordings feature poetry that they have set to music and arranged for their bevy of strings, as well as original instrumentals - waltzes, a reel and an air. In July of 2017, Noctambule released a new recording, A Sweetish Tune. This album is largely traditional Irish Music, with some newer tunes written in the tradition, by Marla and by others, along with a few songs - a traditional Irish ballad, a new ballad, and a poem set to music by Marla and Bruce.
Marla's recent work includes her 2011 CD with the legendary Irish singer and bouzouki player Jimmy Crowley - The Morning Star. This project features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments. Prior to that she released an album in 2010 with the San Francisco based trio Three Mile Stone, with fiddler Erin Shrader and guitar/tenor banjo player Richard Mandel.
Marla teaches privately, and in group classes, online with Peghead Nation, and has taught at many music camps, including The Swannanoa Gathering, Lark Camp, California Coast Music Camp, The Mandolin Symposium, Colorado Roots Music Camp, Portal Irish Music Week and O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat.
2017 will see her return to The Swannanoa Gathering, Lark Camp, and Portal Irish Music Week, Colorado Roots Music Camp, as well as Irish weekend at The Fiddle & Pick in November.___________________________________________________________________
There is a singular sound that results from the unique combination of a musician, their music and their instrument. We take that for granted with a singer, whose instrument cannot be separated from the musician, nor from the music that they make with their body. I feel it no less true for an instrumentalist, if they are fortunate to find and bond with an instrument that can become their voice.
This incredible mandolin came to me through my grandfather. I remember him playing it for me, my brother and sister, and my cousins when we were children. It was after he died that I picked it up and began to learn to play it, learning to play music at the same time. I have always played this mandolin -- its voice is part and parcel of the thing that is my music - its sound is my sound.
Thirty-five years ago I got bit by the Irish music bug. I like to think I was exposed to it at a particularly vulnerable moment. I did not have the good fortune to grow up with the music; I knew nothing about the music. It caught me off guard and took over! I wanted to play it. My grandfather's mandolin was in my aunt's attic. I knew just what to do...
I had no idea at the time that the mandolin is a relative newcomer to the Irish music tradition, still very much developing its voice and finding its place at the session table. My combination of ignorance and enthusiasm led me to find my own way of playing the music with enough lift to be a part of the session, part of the thing that is Irish music. Marla Fibish
What people say about Marla...
"Some of the best mandolin playing in Irish music.”
—Dennis Cahill, Guitarist
"Marla is a wonder on the mandolin; rhythmic beyond imagination, clear as a bell tone, great invention, lovely ornaments at just the right times and places, and a sureness and ease that allows the listener to relax and be carried away."
—Kevin Carr, Folkworks
"Marla’s amazing mandolin playing sets the bar for all others"
—Stuart Mason, Fiddlefreak Folk Music Blog