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Cedille Records announces dates and location for Emerging Artist Competition for Chicago-based musicians

The competition, to take place November 20 & 21, 2021 at the Spertus Institute is designed to elevate and celebrate early-career Chicago artists

Josephine Lee joins panel of judges

Cedille Records, the pioneering Chicago-based classical music label, is excited to announce that its postponed Emerging Artist Competition will take place November 20 and 21 at the Spertus Institute. Josephine Lee, President and Artistic Director of the United States’ preeminent youth choral organization, Chicago Children’s Choir, will join the impressive roster of judges comprised of Chicago’s arts leaders, musicians, and Cedille Records artists. 

Originally scheduled for May 2020, the live rounds of Cedille’s Emerging Artist Competition were delayed due to the pandemic. The competition celebrates over 30 years of Cedille Records identifying, elevating, and amplifying the careers of Chicago musical artists. The winner of the competition will record and release their featured debut album on Cedille.

The Competition  

Nine semi-finalists consisting of both ensembles and solo artists based in Chicago were selected from an initial applicant pool of three-dozen. All contestants must live in or hail from the greater Chicago-era and must not have already been the featured artist on a commercially released recording. The age limit for contestants (average age for ensembles) was 35 at the time of submission in early-2019.

The competition semi-finals and finals will take place as live presentations over concurrent days in Chicago on November 20 and 21, 2021. During the semi-finals, contestants will prepare an hour of music from which judges will select 15 minutes to be performed. The final round will include up to five contestants playing 30 minutes of music total, including two contrasting works selected by the contestants themselves. Semi-final and final performances will be judged by a panel of esteemed judges (see below). 

Both rounds will be live-streamed and the finals will be open to the public. More information about tickets for the competition will be released soon.  

One winner and one honorable mention will be selected. The winner will record with Cedille Records, joining an impressive roster of artists that includes Jennifer Koh, Rachel Barton Pine, Eighth Blackbird, the Dover Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, and Anthony McGill. 

The semi-finalists  

Artemisia, vocal ensemble  
Emily Birsan, soprano  
Claire Bourg, violin  
Maya Anjali Buchanan, violin  
Karisa Chiu, violin 

Johannes Gray, cello 
Clare Longendyke, piano  
Andrew Rosenblum, harpsichord  
Julian Velasco, saxophone


James Ginsburg
Cedille Records founder and President

Rachel Barton Pine
Violinist and Cedille recording artist 

Henry Fogel 
Cedille founding board member and former board chair; former President, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

George Preston
Vice President and General Manager, WFMT and former vocalist

Vladimir Kulenovic 
Conductor and former Artistic Director, Lake Forest Symphony

Josephine Lee 
President and Artistic Director of Chicago’s Children’s Choir

David McGill
Former Principal Bassoon, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

The Cedille Legacy 

James Ginsburg founded Cedille Records in 1989 with the vision of making distinctive classical recordings featuring excellent Chicago-area musicians. Cedille filled an important niche as the only Chicago-based classical record label, and to this day continues to fulfill its mission of recording original programs developed by artists with enlightening and distinctive interpretations. Cedille’s artists and albums are regularly honored with the highest accolades, including seven GRAMMY® awards and 21 nominations since 2003. 

Cedille Records 

Launched in November 1989, Grammy Award-winning Cedille Records (pronounced say-DEE) is dedicated to showcasing and promoting the most noteworthy classical artists in and from the Chicago area. 

The audiophile-oriented label releases every new album in multiple formats: physical CD; 96 kHz, 24-bit, studio-quality FLAC download; and 320 Kbps MP3 download.  

An independent nonprofit enterprise, Cedille Records is the label of Cedille Chicago, NFP. Sales of physical CDs and digital downloads and streams cover only a small percentage of the label’s costs. Tax-deductible donations from individual music-lovers and grants from charitable organizations account for most of its revenue. 


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Julian Velasco, winner of Cedille Records’ Emerging Artists Competition, headlines an inventive, virtuosic, and diverse album of contemporary classical works for soprano, alto, and tenor sax.

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