The Westerlies, “an arty quartet…mixing ideas from jazz, new classical, and Appalachian folk” (New York Times) are a New York-based brass quartet comprised of childhood friends from Seattle: Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone. Equally at home in concert halls and living rooms, The Westerlies navigate a wide array of venues and projects with the precision of a string quartet, the audacity of a rock band, and the charm of a family sing-along. Formed in 2011, the self-described “accidental brass quartet” takes its name from the prevailing winds that travel from the West to the East. “Skilled interpreters who are also adept improvisers” (NPR’s Fresh Air), The Westerlies explore jazz, roots, and chamber music influences to create the rarest of hybrids: music that is both "folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music).
The Westerlies’ upcoming engagements include performances at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Bay Chamber Concerts, and Stave Sessions (Celebrity Series of Boston), among others. Recent performances include New Music at the Nasher, Noe Valley Chamber Music, Earshot Jazz Festival, the Norton Center for the Arts, the Moore Theatre, Shenandoah University, Purdue Convocations, the Oxford Performing Arts Center, Luther College, the Schubert Club, St. John’s University, and the University of Washington. The ensemble was also featured with Fleet Foxes at Coachella, the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theatre Berkeley, Red Rocks, the Newport Folk Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion, the Santa Fe Opera, Outside Lands in San Francisco, Panorama New York City, and the Pitchfork Music Festival.
The ensemble has produced three critically acclaimed albums of genre-defying chamber music: its 2014 debut, Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz (Songlines), a 2016 double-CD of primarily original compositions, The Westerlies (Songlines), and their recent 2020 release, Wherein Lies the Good (Westerlies Records). Sought-after collaborators, The Westerlies are also featured on recordings by Fleet Foxes (Nonesuch), Vieux Farka Touré (Six Degrees Records), Common (Lakeshore) and Dave Douglas (Greenleaf).
Education and community engagement are core elements of The Westerlies' mission. The Westerlies produce an annual music festival in Seattle called Westerlies Fest, which combines evening performances featuring numerous guest artists, an all-day open-to-the-public creative music jamboree, and workshops in local public schools. The festival’s educational programming reaches over 1,000 students in Seattle and surrounding underserved areas every year. The Westerlies have engaged students of all ages and abilities around the country with their innovative assemblies and masterclasses, promoting the values of cooperation and inclusion through music. They have completed educational residencies with Clefworks (Montgomery, AL), Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival (Orcas Island, WA), the School District of Osceola County (Osceola County, Florida), and Highline Public Schools (Burien, WA), among others. They have also taught masterclasses at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Yale School of Music, The Colburn School, and a variety of other colleges and universities.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, The Westerlies are on a mission to amplify unheard voices, paint new sonic landscapes, and cultivate a global community. The Westerlies are committed to dismantling racism, sexism, and economic inequality in their field, and aim to reflect their values of diversity and inclusion in the music they make and the spaces they occupy.