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Julian Velasco


Winner of Cedille Records’ inaugural Emerging Artist Competition in November 2021, saxophonist Julian Velasco is a Chicago-based soloist, collaborative artist, educator, and fierce advocate for contemporary arts whose artistic vision aspires to reflect and celebrate the plurality of our society. Raised in the diverse musical culture of Los Angeles, his own musical background draws from classical, jazz, experimental, and popular styles whose influences inform his approach to all music.

Velasco has premiered over 50 new works, collaborating and performing with a wide range of artists from the likes of Ron Carter, Billy Childs, Jimmy Cobb, Annika Socolofsky, Christian McBride, Rufus Reid, PRISM Quartet, Zhou Tian, Rodney Whitaker, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Recent collaborations, fellowships, and premieres have been lauded by The New York Times and included in the Chicago Tribune’s “Chicago’s Top 10 for classical music, opera and jazz that defined 2021.”

Velasco is the soprano saxophonist of ~Nois saxophone quartet. Known for its “truly innovative musicianship” and “raw creativity” (Cacophony), ~Nois has presented over 90 performances in 20 states from coast to coast at festivals such as Big Ears, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and the University of Chicago Presents series. ~Nois has held residencies and given performances at over 30 institutions including University of Southern California, University of Colorado Boulder, Manhattan School of Music, and Princeton University, and was the 2020–2021 Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Chicago.

A Luminarts Cultural Foundation Fellow in Classical Music, Velasco has garnered top prizes from organizations including Music Teachers National Association, Vandoren Emerging Artists, Yamaha Young Performing Artists, and the North American Saxophone Alliance. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and Michigan State University. At the start of the 2022–2023 season, he will make his Symphony Center concerto-debut with the Chicago Sinfonietta.