Taking Shape (World Premiere)
The Westerlies have long been fascinated by the rich tradition of American shape-note music, a body of work written with a notation system designed to facilitate congregational and social singing. In the program, the ensemble presents a selection of traditional shape-note hymns alongside four World Premieres, one by each member of the ensemble, inspired by the musical properties of shape-note singing. With concert hall precision and folklike approachability, The Westerlies invite the listener into their musical world, cutting new trails across the vast expanse of the American musical landscape.
Selections to include:
Shape Note Songs:
Arr. John G. McCurry
Four Original Compositions by The Westerlies
World Premieres Commissioned by BAC
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). 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 numerous critically acclaimed albums of genre-defying music. In May 2021, The Westerlies released Bricolage (Westerlies Records), a collaborative album of improvisations with pianist/composer Conrad Tao. 2021 also saw the release of This Land, the ensemble’s collaboration with GRAMMY-nominated vocalist Theo Bleckmann. The Westerlies have produced three albums of quartet music: their 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 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).