“In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.” - Bertolt Brecht
Songs of Refuge and Resistance is a collaboration between singer/composer Theo Bleckmann and brass quartet The Westerlies. These border-crossing artists have deep roots in both jazz and contemporary music alike, and created and commissioned a whole new body of work for voice and brass. These songs highlight music’s integral role and power in protest movements and in providing internal solace amidst external turmoil.
A new sonic landscape is explored in this unique pairing of voice and brass, amplifying timeless voices of truth both past and present including Bertolt Brecht, Joni Mitchell, James Baldwin, Mitsuye Yamada, Woody Guthrie, Emma Gonzalez, and others. Bleckmann adds angelic choirs and dark murky textures through occasional live vocal looping, expanding The Westerlies' warm and refined, almost string-like sound. There is an inherent sense of power, solace and beauty in these songs; the message is resistance, but the music is irresistible.
The Westerlies 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. Formedin 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). 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.
The NYChillharmonic is a 22-piece progressive-jazz orchestra lead by vocalist/composer, Sara McDonald, based in Brooklyn, NY. The music fuses multiple genres including rock, pop, and jazz, that ultimately create an ensemble sound like nothing you have heard before. "Sara McDonald, who fronts the NYChillharmonic, writes some of the world’s catchiest yet most unpredictable music for large ensemble." (New York Music Daily). NYChillharmonic compositions, written by Sara, have twice been awarded ASCAP’s coveted ‘Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award’ and the ASCAP ‘Phoebe Jacobs Prize.' Sara was also included in Brooklyn Magazines annual "30 under 30" list, highlighting successful musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs in NYC.