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Straddling metaphorical borders essential part of ensemble's performances

When the musicians and artists who make up what is now known as the Noiseborder Ensemble first came together in 2008, they were highly influenced by Windsor’s proximity to an international border crossing.

However, the border as metaphor for the perceived divisions between various art forms and classifications – and the ensemble’s efforts to straddle them – have really informed everything they’ve done, according to one of its founding members.

“Obviously because we live in a border town that was part of it,” says Brent Lee, a musician and faculty member in the School of Visual Arts, “but in terms of our own understanding of what we do there’s also the border between music and noise, the border between the aural and the visual, the border between popular culture and classical music. There are a lot of border lines that we’re sort of investigating through the work that we do.”

The ensemble’s multi-media performances draw on diverse musical traditions including chamber music, experimental music, popular music, electronica and improvisation.

Tonight they’ll perform their latest show called Discrete. While the name may be an adjective that speaks to the notion of being detached and separate from others, for audience members who get to experience it, the performance will be an opportunity to see the bringing together a wide cross-section of sights and sounds, according to Dr. Lee, who will appear today on CJAM to discuss the ensemble’s work.

“There will be live acoustic instruments, as well as live electronic processing of acoustic sound and live video presentation and mixing,” he said, adding that there are 50 by 20 foot projection screens and speakers permanently mounted in various locations all around the studio. “It’s a pretty immersive experience because we can surround the audience with sound and have very large images projected as well.”

Besides Lee, the ensemble includes UWindsor visual artist Sigi Torinus; School of Music staff member Trevor Pittman; UWindsor percussionist and School of Music faculty member Nicholas Papador; University of Michigan video artist Chris McNamara; and Brandon University musician Megumi Masaki. Tonight’s guest performers include Eric Wood, Jaimie Wagner, Martin Schiller, David Litke, Anthony Giglio, and Nic de Cosson.

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Studio A in the basement of Lambton Tower and admission is free. Lee will also appear today on Research Matters, a weekly talk show that focuses on the work of University of Windsor researchers and airs every Thursday at 4:30 p.m.