Announcing Westerlies Fest! by Zubin Hensler

Dear Besterlies,

We are thrilled to announce WESTERLIES FEST, a four-day music festival in Seattle, September 20-23, 2018.

Combining evening performances with daytime in-school concerts and a weekend creative music workshop, we'll reach over 1,000 local students in Seattle and surrounding underserved areas to give back to the city that raised us.

Special guests to include vocalist Theo Bleckmann, singer/songwriter Kate Davis, contemporary ensemble TORCH, and poet Troy Osaki. Presented at Seattle Pacific University with Common Tone Arts.

Info and tickets at!


Thursday, September 20, 2018 • 7:30pm • Seattle, WA @ The Collaboratory 
     Feat. Troy Osaki, Azura Tyabji, and Zora "Rainchild" Seboulisa
Friday, September 21, 2018 • 7:30pm • Seattle, WA @ Nickerson Studios 
     Feat. TORCH
Saturday, September 22, 2018 • 7:30pm • Seattle, WA @ First Free Methodist Church
     Feat. Theo Bleckmann and Kate Davis
Sunday, September 23, 2018 • 4:00pm • Seattle, WA @ Nickerson Studios
     Feat. Workshop Students



First NYC Show of 2018! by Zubin Hensler


Dear Besterlies,

This month we return to New York for our first hometown show of 2018 - a monster double-bill featuring Attacca Quartet.

We first encountered Attacca when they served as Graduate Resident String Quartet at Juilliard. Impressed and intimidated by their dynamism (as The Washington Post says, “mastery like this is scarce enough in quartets that have played together for decades"), they inspired us and expanded our vision of what a quartet can be.

Seven years later, we are teaming up for an evening of back-to-back sets. Tickets are now on sale here - capacity is limited so we recommend you buy in advance!

Can't make it, or don't live in New York? Check our Spring 2018 Season below - new shows are announced!

PS - for our Seattle fans out there confused and distraught over this email subject referring to NYC as our "hometown," - we're thrilled to announce a real hometown show, May 23rd at The Royal Room. Save the date!

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Spring 2018 Season Announcement! by Zubin Hensler

Dear Besterlies,

We're thrilled to announce our Spring Season! We'll be traversing the country with new music to share and we hope to see you along the way. Take a look at the dates below, tell your friends, and mark your calendars!

Spring 2018 Season

February 26th - March 3rd, 2018 • Montgomery, AL @ Clefworks

March 8th, 2018 • Fort Worth, TX @ The Cliburn

March 9th - 11th, 2018 • 3:00pm - Mobile, AL @ LaidLaw Performing Arts Center (Mobile Chamber Music)

March 15th, 2018 • 8:00pm • Aiken, SC @ Joye in Aiken

March 27th, 2018 • 7:00pm • New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall (w/ Attacca Quartet)

April 12th, 2018 • 7:30pm • Cleveland, MS @ Bologna Performing Arts Center

April 14th, 2018 • Indio, CA @ Coachella (w/ Fleet Foxes)

April 18th, 2018 • San Luis Obispo, CA @ Madonna Expo Center (w/ Fleet Foxes)

April 20th, 2018 • Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre (w/ Fleet Foxes)

April 21st, 2018 • Indio, CA @ Coachella (w/ Fleet Foxes)

April 23rd - 27th, 2018 • Orcas Island, WA @ Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival

April 29th, 2018 • 3:30pm • Washington, DC @ National Gallery of Art

May 27th, 2018 • TBD • Twisp, WA @ Merc Playhouse

May 28th - June 8th, 2018 • Putney, VT @ Yellow Barn Residency Program

More dates TBA. Stay tuned!

2016 - 2017 Annual Report by Zubin Hensler

Dear Besterlies,

We are proud to share with you our first ever Annual Report, encapsulating all that kept us busy in the past year.

View the 2016-2017 Annual Report Here

Through performance, recording, collaboration, and educational outreach, we  are dedicated to our mission: to transform our long-standing friendships into a bold and personal chamber music experience to enrich and inspire a global community.

Thank you for being a part of our family - we can't do this without you!

2018-17 Season Announcement by Zubin Hensler

We are pleased to announce our 2017/18 season, which includes a variety of concert dates around the country. The season kicks off with a short stint with Fleet Foxes, followed by the release of a new album with Dave DouglasLittle Giant Still Life. We will also debut our newest concert program, Songs We Sung: American Vocal Music of the 20th Century, featuring the songs of Charles Ives, spirituals from the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, a variety of folksongs, and some new Westerlies originals. Keep an eye out for us at a concert hall near you!

2017/18 Concerts

September 18th, 2017 • 8pm • Brooklyn, NY @ Threes Brewing

September 23rd, 2017 • 7:45pm • Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl
(with Fleet Foxes)

September 24th, 2017 • 7:30pm • Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre
(with Fleet Foxes)

September 25th, 2017 • 7:30pm • Santa Fe, NM @ Santa Fe Opera
(with Fleet Foxes)

September 27th, 2017 • 7:30pm • Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre (with Fleet Foxes)

October 14th, 2017 • 8pm • Boston, MA
@ Berklee School of Music: David Friend Recital Hall (with Dave Douglas)

October 20th, 2017 • 7:30pm • Brooklyn, NY @ BRIC JazzFest
(with Dave Douglas)

October 26th, 2017 • 6pm • Seattle, WA @ The Moore Theatre
(Ampersand Live)

November 3rd, 2017 • Old Lyme, CT @MMModern
(Musical Masterworks)

February 26th, 2018 - March 3rd • Montgomery, AL @ Clefworks

March 8th, 2018 • Fort Worth, TX @ The Cliburn

March 9th - 11th, 2018 • 3pm • Mobile, AL @ LaidLaw Performing Arts Center (Mobile Chamber Music)

March 15th, 2018 • Aiken, SC @ Joye in Aiken

April 12th, 2018 • 7:30pm • Cleveland, MS @ Bologna Performing Arts Center

April 23rd - 27th, 2018 • Orcas Island, WA
@ Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival

April 29th, 2018 • 3:30pm • Washington, DC @ National Gallery of Art

May 28th - June 8th, 2018 • Putney, VT @ Yellow Barn Residency Program

Summer 2017: #westerliesgowest, Fleet Foxes, and Riley's 26th Birthday! by Zubin Hensler

Dear Besterlies,

Greetings from Lopez Island, Washington, where we are busy composing new music to share with your ears. Our summer kicks off with two #westerliesgowest performances in our home state. Catch us on Lopez Island on Sunday, June 11th, at the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts, and in Seattle on Thursday, June 15th, at the Royal Room, where everything started almost six years ago. Get your Royal Room tickets here, and get’em quick. They’re selling fast!

Here’s the latest:

Fleet Foxes + The Westerlies
We are so thrilled to be featured on the title track of Fleet Foxes’ new album Crack-Up! The album is now streaming on NPR Music’s First Listen - give it a listen today!

Fleet Foxes

Art Zone with Nancy Guppy

We have been fans of Art Zone with Nancy Guppy on The Seattle Channel for years, and it is a dream come true to be featured on the most recent episode of the show. Stream the episode online to catch performances of “A Nearer Sun” and “So So Shy” from our latest album.


Here’s what’s coming up:


This weekend we premiere new original compositions and arrangements in the Northwest with two performances, first on June 11th at the Lopez Island Center for Community and the Arts, and then at The Royal Room in Seattle on June 15th at 8:00pm.


We’re making two stops at Caramoor this summer, first on July 6th for an intimate evening of music in their majestic Spanish Courtyard, then we’ll be back for the Caramoor Jazz Festival on July 15th in the magical Sunken Garden.

Joe’s Pub

On July 9th we make our debut at Joe’s Pub for The Westerlies & Friends, featuring Theo Bleckmann, Kate Davis, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Vuyo Sotashe, and Samora Pinderhughes. It will be our biggest NYC show of the summer: not only will it be our Joe’s Pub debut, it’ll be Riley’s 26th birthday celebration! Tickets on sale now, get them here before they sell out!


We’re extremely excited to be giving a special masterclass at the NYU Summer Brass Workshop on July 25th. The weeklong workshop includes daily ensemble coaching, master classes, and faculty-student performances. We’re honored to be teaching alongside Manhattan Brass, an ensemble comprised of some of our own former teachers and mentors; they’re a true inspiration!

Upcoming Performances
June 11th, 2017 - 7:00pm - Lopez Island, WA @ LCCA

June 15th, 2017 - 8:00pm - Seattle, WA @ The Royal Room

July 6th, 2017 - 7:00pm - Katonah, NY @ Caramoor 

July 9th, 2017 - 9:30pm - New York, NY @ Joe's Pub

July 15th, 2017 - 4:00pm - Katonah, NY @ Caramoor

501(c)(3) Announcement by Zubin Hensler

Dear Besterlies,

We are thrilled to announce the IRS has approved us as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization! As a nonprofit, we join the ranks of symphony orchestras, music festivals, opera companies, and chamber ensembles that strive to further the public good through artistic endeavors.  Our 501(c)(3) status allows us to continue to program adventurous music and engage in vital community outreach. It also allows us to accept tax-deductible donations from you, our generous supporters. We thank everyone who has contributed—your prior donations qualify as tax deductible! Our spiffy new Tax ID Number is 47-5332229.

Here’s what we’ve been up to and what we have to look forward to:

Brass Bands and Beignets in the Birthplace of Jazz

In February, we took a trip to Louisiana for the first week of Sound Places, an exciting new project to revitalize the historic Rivertown district through performances, interactive educational programming, and community engagement. We’re working with the Project for Public Spaces, Chamber Music America, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the City of Kenner in a project supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Ours was a memorable visit, full of decadent food, lively music, and new friends. We will be returning to Louisiana throughout 2017.

Willem and Riley battle over a piece of king cake in Kenner, LA. 

Willem and Riley battle over a piece of king cake in Kenner, LA. 

From the Rehearsal Studio...

Back in New York, we’ve been creating next season’s Murmur, Roar, an exploration of vocal music from around the world. The program features new arrangements and transcriptions of classical art songs, American roots music, Renaissance madrigals, Bulgarian choral music, and more. We debuted some of the music at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC earlier this month and will continue to refine it at our annual residency on Lopez Island this summer. the Concert Hall

We take the stage on March 23 at Brooklyn’s BRIC House Sessions. We will be opening for Montreal-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Watson, winner of the Polaris Prize for his debut record Close to Paradise. We will be performing both new music and current favorites. Hope to see you there! 

Tiny Desk Concert by Zubin Hensler

We are thrilled to share a new video from NPR Music - The Westerlies Tiny Desk Concert! We stopped by the NPR Headquarters in Washington DC on a rainy Friday afternoon in October to play a few songs. 

Full Video Streaming HERE.

NPR Says: "Young musicians today routinely resist being pigeonholed into a single genre. Such is the case with this unconventional band, which, through its compositions and tight ensemble playing, reveals a built-in sympathy for improvised jazz, rigorous classical structures and sunshiny pop. Trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler and trombonists Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch can blow hard - after all, this is a brass band — but the surprise comes in their soft tones and subtle phrasing."

Dave Douglas meets The Westerlies! by Zubin Hensler

Fresh off our Album Release Tour, we're hitting the road again - this time with new music and a new band, featuring our trumpet hero Dave Douglas and drummer Anwar Marshall!

After listening to his records for years, we first played with Dave after opening for him at the 2013 Earshot Jazz Festival. At the end of the night, he invited us onstage for a collaborative piece that brought the Seattle crowd to its feet.

Since that night, Dave has written an entire book of music for The Westerlies + Dave Douglas, accompanied by drummer Anwar Marshall. We'll start in San Francisco and make our way through Reno, Eugene, Portland, and then back to Seattle at the Earshot Jazz Festival, where it all started three years ago.

Tickets are going fast, so get them soon!

New Album Out! by Zubin Hensler

Just shy of our fifth birthday, we're thrilled to announce the release of our self-titled sophomore album! We've poured our hearts and souls into this project over the last two years and cannot wait for you to hear the results.

This 17-track double-CD features original music from each member of the ensemble captured in vivid sonic detail by GRAMMY-winning producer Jesse Lewis (Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, Roomful of Teeth, Brooklyn Rider, LA Phil).

Critics across the country are already weighing in with praise:

"The original repertoire is so strong and varied that the Westerlies represent a kind of bastard child, standing fiercely between genre cracks with works that evoke the Americana of Aaron Copland and John Philip Sousa on the one hand but seeming to translate the rhythmically spastic machinations of EDM on the other (check out “So So Shy”). There are plenty of other stops in between, all delivered with stunning clarity and richness." - Chicago Reader

"Over two discs the New York City-based, Seattle-born brass band occupies a lively territory between jazz, Steven Foster-styled folk and chamber music with bracing melodies and, crucially, an undeniable sense of fun." - L.A. Times

"The Westerlies' rendition [of "Saro"] has no vocals, but you still feel the heartache....What a distinctly American twist: to flip a story of sorrow on its head, opening it up to a future bright with possibility." - NPR Music

"an all-brass rave-up...a rapid dance of melodies that will have your heart racing and your body tapping along." - Stereogum

Thank you for listening and sharing!


The Westerlies

New Album, New Tour by Zubin Hensler

Hello Friends,

What a month it has been! After we shared our new single "Saro" with you, it jumped to #5 on the Spotify US Viral 50 Chart. Thank you for listening and sharing - we are blown away by the love!

Last week we released one more song from the new album: "New Berlin, New York," an original by our trombonist Andy Clausen. Stereogum premiered the single with a glowing review: "In contrast to the sentimental drama of 'Saro,' this one is breathlessly frantic, a rapid dance of melodies that will have your heart racing and your body tapping along."

At the end of this month we embark on the second leg of our Album Release Tour, stopping by some familiar spots as well as some brand new cities. Take a look at the poster, buy your tickets early, and tell your friends! More details and tickets can be found at

Lastly, we want to give a HUGE thank you to all of the friends and fans we met along the first leg of our #westerliesgowest Album Release Tour. From Idyllwild up to Seattle, we are so grateful to have Besterlies up and down the coast.

Stay tuned for more music, news, and tour dates!

The Westerlies’ Open Labs Initiative: A Call For Scores by Zubin Hensler

The Westerlies are thrilled to announce their new Open Labs Initiative for the 2016/2017 season!

The ensemble will hold quarterly reading sessions, inviting musicians from the community to compose and arrange for the group, develop works in progress, or have an existing piece played. The Westerlies welcome musicians from all genres, backgrounds, and experience levels to participate. 

The Westerlies’ Open Labs will take place at an intimate concert venue/recording studio in Manhattan. Each session will welcome a select group of composers to workshop their pieces for up to 45 minutes with the ensemble. Each composer will receive a professional recording of their portion of the workshop (for archival purposes only). Participation in The Westerlies’ Open Labs Initiative is free.

To RSVP, composers must submit their music in PDF prior to the session, with priority given to pieces submitted at least two weeks in advance. All forms of notation are acceptable, including but not limited to: full arrangements, piano scores, lead sheets, graphic scores, or game pieces. Repertoire selections for each session will be announced as soon as possible following the priority submission deadline.

RSVP to:

The season will culminate with a public performance and recording project in April 2017, featuring select compositions from the program. Composers retain 100% ownership of their music. Any proceeds resulting from public performance and/or recording of the work will be shared among participants.

Session 1: Saturday September 17th, 2016 @ 3:00pm
Session 2: Saturday November 19th, 2016 @ 3:00pm
Session 3: Saturday January 21st, 2017 @ 3:00pm
Session 4: Saturday March 18th, 2017 @ 3:00pm

Public Performance: Saturday April 22nd, 2017 @ 8:00pm

Recording: April 24 - 27th, 2017

(Schedule subject to change)

We look forward to all the new sounds, and hope you’ll help us spread the word!

The Westerlies

(Photo by John Abbott)

NPR Music Premiers New Single by Zubin Hensler

We are thrilled to announce the release of our self-titled sophomore double-album, due October 7th, 2016!

To celebrate the big announcement, NPR Music is premiering our first single, "Saro," praised as "a distinctly American twist: to flip a story of sorrow on its head, opening it up to a future bright with possibility." Listen here!

In conjunction with the announcement, we are embarking on the first leg of our Album Release Tour (#westerliesgowest), beginning at Jazz in the Pines in Idyllwild, CA, and finishing with our hometown crowd in Seattle. Take a look at the poster, buy your tickets early, and tell your friends! More details and tickets can be found at:

Stay tuned for more music, news, and tour dates!

The Westerlies Go West - 2016 Edition by Zubin Hensler

Hello Friends!

The Westerlies are headin' west next week to begin a two week run down the coast! We look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones along the way.

If you know folks in any of these cities, please help us spread the word!

February 13th • 8:00 PM • Seattle, WA
Chapel Performance Space with Robin Holcomb & Peggy Lee
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.

February 18th • 7:30 PM • Portland, OR
Tabor Space with Douglas Detrick
5441 SE Belmont St

February 19th • 8:00 PM • Eugene, OR
Broadway Avenue House Concerts
911 W Broadway

February 20th • 8:00 PM • Arcata, CA
The Sanctuary
1301 J Street

February 24th • 7:30 PM • Chico, CA
CSU Chico New Music Symposium
Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall

February 25th • 8:30 PM • Los Angeles, CA
South Pasadena Conservatory with River Song Quintet
1509 Mission St. South Pasadena, CA 91030

February 27th • 7:30 PM • San Diego, CA
Fresh Sound Presents at Bread & Salt
1955 Julian Avenue

February 28th • 5:00 PM • San Francisco, CA
Candlelight Concerts at Church of St. Mary
2325 Union Street

See you out there!


The Westerlies

The Westerlies Hit The Road! by Zubin Hensler

© Sasha Aratyunova 2015

© Sasha Aratyunova 2015

Hello Friends,

This saturday we are heading into uncharted territory! Over the next two weeks we will be playing in four cities we have never before visited as a band. We're giddily excited to meet new friends and share our music with new audiences. We have a trusty red SUV lent to us by a generous friend, plenty of hand warmers, and a Can-Do Attitude!

Now, amidst all this excitement, we must admit, is just the slightest feeling of trepidation. Do we know anyone in these places? Who will we get to share our music with? If you happen to have people in any of these cities, please do let them know about us. 

Here are the show details:

March 1 - 3:30 PM - Pittsburgh, PA @ The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
March 2 - 7 PM - Cleveland, OH @ The Music Settlement
March 5 - 9:30 PM - Chicago, IL @ Constellation
March 7 - 8 PM - College Park, MD @ University of Maryland

Hope to see you out there!

Much Love,
The Westerlies

Happy New Year! by Zubin Hensler

Happy New Year, and thank you for a memorable 2014!

2014 was our most exciting year yet, and we couldn’t have done it without you. We released our first album, had more opportunities to share our music than ever before, and made many new friends throughout the year.

The year started off with a bang with the release of our debut album: Wish the Children Would Come On Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz. We played down the entire album for a sold-out roomful of friends and family at Cornelia Street Cafe, and were overwhelmed with the love and energy from the crowd.

Album art by David Foarde

Summer was full of adventures and new experiences. We kicked it off with a thrill ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, followed by a performance at Music in the Mountains (which Andy nearly missed after being stranded overnight in the Denver airport). After a seamless journey back to Seattle, our hometown crowd welcomed us back with a wild show at the Seattle Art Museum on a bill with Human Feel, presented by John Gilbreath and Earshot Jazz. On July 1st, we celebrated our first ever Canada Day with fireworks and a concert at the Vancouver Jazz Festival.

In August, we all piled into the Clausen Family Van for our first ever west coast tour. We played thirteen concerts over the course of seventeen days on a journey that took us all the way down to Los Angeles and back. Some highlights included the waterballoon toss at the PDX Farm Fiesta, a drive down Highway 1 through the incomparably stunning Big Sur, a music video shoot in the mountains above Santa Barbara, and a seemingly endless library of CDs to listen to in the van (the tour favorite was Judee Sill). Each and every show was unique and memorable, and we received such a warm outpouring of support from all of the new friends we made along the way. We want to give a special thank you to all of our generous hosts who housed us throughout the tour.

The positive response to Wish the Children Would Come On Home was beyond our wildest dreams. The album received critical acclaim from NPR’s Fresh Air, JazzTimes, and many other publications and radio shows. Most recently, we were thrilled to have been included in many “Best of 2014” critics’ lists, including NPR’s Francis Davis’s Top Ten and “2014’s Best Debut Album”Kevin Whitehead's "25 Best Jazz Albums of 2014 for Wondering Sound" and Revive Music’s “Top Songs of 2014”

Please join us as we ring in the New Year with a show in Seattle on January 3rd at theRoyal Room. We’ll be playing two sets, starting at 6pm. We’re excited to play some of our favorite songs from the past year as well as premiere many new works of 2015. Get your tickets here: See you at the Royal Room!

Much Love and Happy New Year,

The Westerlies

Westerlies Brass Intensive by Zubin Hensler

Greetings Friends!
We are pleased to announce that we will be presenting a masterclass on brass technique and improvisation in Seattle on January 3rd. Available to musicians ages 12-18 of all ability levels and experience, the class will cover the fundamentals of brass playing, practice methods, improvising in a variety of contexts, and ensemble etiquette. Enrollment is filling up quickly, there are only a few spots left! For more information on the Seattle JazzEd Masterclass Series and for registration click here.

The Westerlies Brass Intensive
January 3, 2015 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
MLK F.A.M.E. Community Center, 3201 E Republican St, Seattle WA

We hope to see you there!

Mid-Tour Update by Zubin Hensler

The Westerlies West Coast Tour is well under way!

After a sold out crowd at The Royal Room in Seattle, we headed South to play at the PDX Farm Fiesta and Valentine's in Portland, followed by great shows in Arcata, Chico and Sacramento. After seven shows in seven days, we're ready for a day off!

We've been shooting short performance videos at scenic locations along the way. We filmed a version of Wayne Horvitz's composition "The Circus Prospered" on abandoned train tracks in Arcata, and while driving from Chico to Sacramento we stopped at the Oroville Wildlife Refuge to play "New Berlin, New York" by Andy Clausen. We hope you enjoy these snapshots from the road, and we encourage you to share them with your friends!

Bay Area, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles here we come!

Summer Update by Zubin Hensler

It's been an exciting summer since the release of "Wish The Children Would Come on Home: The Music of Wayne Horvitz."

On June 22nd we met in Durango, Colorado (in spite of a missed flight, lost suitcase, overnight in the Denver Airport, and a very oversized, borrowed suit) to play a concert at the beautiful "Music In The Mountains" Festival.

Our next stop was a trip home to Seattle for a WILD Earshot Jazz concert at the Seattle Art Museum, where we played on a bill with Human Feel (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Andrew D'Angelo, Chris Speed, Jim Black). Fun Fact: Human Feel came out of Seattle in the early nineties and Wayne Horvitz produced their 1994 album "Welcome to Malpesta."

Finally, we headed north of the border on July 1st (Canada Day!) to play at The Vancouver Jazz Festival. There was a great atmosphere on Granville Island, an outstanding hummus and vegetable spread backstage, and we managed to catch most of the  harbor fireworks show!

Just a few days later, we received word that our album would be reviewed on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross! The segment was very thoughtfully done by Kevin Whitehead - you can hear the feature in its entirety HERE.

In August we embark on our CD Release Tour down the West Coast. We're hoping to see old friends and make new ones, so please help us spread the word!!