Westerlies Fest


Willem de Koch, Chloe Rowlands, Riley Mulherkar, and Andy Clausen photo courtesy by Kevin Condon

June 15-17
Various Venues


Get ready to soak in the warm vibrations of golden brass as summer approaches Seattle. The Westerlies, a Seattle-born, New York-based brass quartet are preparing to return to Seattle for three nights in June for their fifth annual Westerlies Fest. This year, the quartet shares the stage with Sarah Elizabeth Charles and Jarrett Cherner, Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet, and Jahnvi Madan.

The Westerlies, aptly named for the winds that move from the west to the east, are comprised of four long-time comrades: Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands on trumpet, and Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch on trombone. The group creates a diverse collection of sounds drawing from jazz, roots, chamber music, Appalachian folk, and new classical.

On June 15, vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles and pianist Jarrett Cherner join The Westerlies at The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Ave S). Charles and Cherner will feature selections from their recent duo album, Tone, as well as collaborative ensemble arrangements featuring The Westerlies.

On June 16, the quartet marks the official Seattle release of their latest studio album, Move, with a show that features an opening set from Seattle-based clarinetist and composer Jahnvi Madan. This special performance also takes place at The Royal Room. 

On June 17, the final evening of the festival, The Westerlies come together with the Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet at The Chapel Performance Space (4649 Sunnyside Ave N, 4th Floor). Gravitas Quartet explores the intersection of chamber music and improvisation. “It has been a dream for a really long time to do a double bill with Gravitas Quartet,” says de Koch, reflecting on the deep musical connection shared between the two groups. The quartet features Horvitz on piano, Peggy Lee on cello, Sarah Schoenbeck on bassoon, and Mulherkar on trumpet. This collaboration will celebrate the musical legacy of Gravitas Quartet’s cornetist, the late, great Ron Miles. When asked who he would have sub for him in Gravitas Quartet, without hesitation Miles would name The Westerlies’ Riley Mulherkar. Mulherkar, who deeply admired and respected the late artist, now steps into the role of trumpeter with Gravitas Quartet to honor Miles.

The Westerlies created this festival to give back to the vibrant musical ecosystem that raised them. In addition to performing and collaborating alongside talented artists from Seattle and beyond, The Westerlies will conduct workshops in local schools, including a residency in Highline Public Schools.

de Koch anticipates working in the schools around Seattle as it is an opportunity to share musical and artistic experiences with many student musicians in the greater Seattle area. The group will work with concert bands, jazz bands, and students ranging from 2nd grade to seniors in high school. 

The quartet creates games that help young jazz musicians learn how to improvise and navigate challenging aspects of the jazz idiom, such as chord changes and scales. de Koch states that these experiences can have a “deep impact” on students’ learning and interest in continuing to develop a relationship with their instrument.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students. Full festival schedule at westerliesfest.org.


Posted on

April 30, 2023