ESMERINE was co-founded by percussionist and marimba player Bruce Cawdron and cellist Rebecca Foon in 2001. Both had been been active for several years in Montréal’s fertile, vibrant and highly collaborative experimental/instrumental music scene; Cawdron most notably as drummer for post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Foon with various ensembles (Bell Orchestre, Fifths Of Seven) and in the chamber-punk protest band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. The two met during the recording of the first album by cinematic/improv collective Set Fire To Flames in 2000 and their duo project was spawned from there. Esmerine released two critically- acclaimed albums of expressive, minimalist modern chamber music in the first half of that decade on their own Madrona Records imprint (and via Resonant in the UK): If Only A Sweet Surrender To The Nights To Come Be True (2003) and Aurora (2005).
Thee Silver Mt. Zion kept Foon increasingly busy throughout the mid- 2000s (while she also found time to complete a Masters in Urban Planning at McGill University) and Godspeed began a long hiatus in 2003 (with Cawdron taking the opportunity to study and then start an acupuncture practice); Esmerine kept its embers glowing through this period with annual local concerts where they invited a wide range of collaborations, with the likes of Lhasa de Sela and Warren Ellis, among many others.
Following Foon’s departure from Thee Silver Mt. Zion in 2008, the duo began charting a course of renewed activity, inspired by their hosting of thesecollaborativesoirées. ExpandingEsmerinetoaquartetwiththe addition of two members from The Barr Brothers, Esmerine returned to recorded work with the acclaimed La Lechuza album in 2011, a musical eulogy for their dearly departed friend and iconic Montréal singer Lhasa de Sela (which included appearances by Partick Watson and his band on a few songs). La Lechuza also marked the beginning of a new label relationship with celebrated independent imprint Constellation. Esmerine began touring again internationally in support of the album, with the quartet line-up shifting as The Barr Brothers became busier; new members Jamie Thompson (The Unicorns, Islands) and Brian Sanderson (Silvehearts) joined the fold in 2012, and the two have remained constant members of Esmerine ever since.