The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Westerlies brass quartet holds music workshop at UI ahead of Thursday performance

New York-based brass quartet The Westerlies traveled to Iowa City to teach a class at the Voxman Building and collaborate with musician Haley Heynderickx for one night at Hancher Auditorium.
Isabella Tisdale
A multiple exposure photo shows members of the band Westerlies playing during a performance by at The Voxman Recital Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. The Westerlies are a quartet with inspirations from jazz, folk, and classical. On Thursday, they will open for singer Haley Heynderickx at Hancher Auditorium.

Upbeat, jazzy tunes filled the halls of the University of Iowa School of Music Voxman building Tuesday night as the “accidental brass quartet,” known as the Westerlies, took center stage at their latest musical recital.

“I feel grateful every day to get to do what we do, truly. To get to make music is a privilege,” said Andy Clausen, one of the band’s two trombone players.

The room buzzed with energy as the quartet guided audiences through each new song, combining jazz, classical, and folk music to tell compelling and fulfilling lyrical stories. Each piece was different, but added something special to the night, which had many people in the audience smiling throughout the show.

“It’s just about the people and the music itself,” Clausen said.

Throughout the show, the band shared insights into their work, including how they used their history and unique talents for composition, improvisation, and arrangement.

They also demonstrated several pieces that took inspiration from artists, such as Caroline Shaw, The Golden Gate Quartet, and the Sacred Harp choral singing tradition.

“We rarely think in terms of genre,” Clausen said. “We think very much in terms of individuals and people. In selecting repertoire, we think, ‘How can we celebrate this composer and group?’”

Part of the group’s mission is to give voice to music that doesn’t typically get recognized in the concert halls they frequent, Clausen said.

“The conversations we often have as a group [concern] how we can use our voices and our opportunities going into concert halls to bring into the cannon music that would otherwise not be present in these spaces,” he said.

Students in the audience were also heavily impacted by the influence of the Westerlies and the music they created.

“The Westerlies are the premiere Brass chamber ensemble across the U.S., and even worldwide, so [the band] being in Iowa City really was a ‘can’t miss event,’” UI student Ty Lee Waters said. “I’m also in an ensemble: the Clinton Street Trombone Quartet.”

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As part of a brass group himself, Waters and other members of his band got the opportunity to work with Clausen and fellow band member and trombonist Addison Maye-Saxon. Waters viewed the recital event as an extension of that mentorship, where he was given the chance to see the Westerlies “practice what they preach.”

“The Westerlies — they exist on a plane of their own,” Waters said. “There’s nothing else out there that’s quite like them. It was really special to get to see them live, and to hear how their sounds blend.”

He describes the experience of seeing the Westerlies as a full-circle moment, as he and the rest of the Clinton Street Quartet played some of their music as the group was getting its start. Now, the UI brass group holds many recitals and Q&A sessions throughout the year, most of which take place along Clinton Street and inside Voxman.

“This has been a gift for us,” Waters said, “They’ve been such a great resource, and I don’t have enough good to say about the impact that they have had.”

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Lubguban
Isabelle Lubguban, Arts Reporter
Isabelle Lubguban is a third-year student at the University of Iowa. She is majoring in English with a concentration of Creative Writing. This is her first year at the Daily Iowan as an Arts Reporter, and she enjoys doing photo and video editing in her free time.
Riley Dunn
Riley Dunn, Arts Reporter
Riley Dunn is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her time at the DI, Riley interned for Swimming World Magazine.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.