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Emerging Artist Competition Winner Releases Heartfelt Debut Recording

Saxophonist Julian Velasco headlines an inventive, virtuosic, and diverse album of contemporary classical works for soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone. As the winner of Cedille Records’ first Emerging Artist Competition, a juried event celebrating the independent classical label’s 30th anniversary of championing Windy City artists of world-class talent, Julian curated a program for his recording debut featuring works that reflect “the different musical aspects of my life at this moment” while paying tribute to “the unique and wonderful people with whom I have been lucky enough to surround myself.” The album, As We Are, features music by composers Steven Banks, David Maslanka, John Anthony Lennon, Amanda Harberg, Elijah Daniel Smith, and Christopher Cerrone.

In the liner notes for the album, Julian writes:

As We Are is the result of a powerful moment of realization I experienced last year. For years, I struggled to fit neatly within a singular description of myself. There are a multitude of identifiers that I ascribed to myself, saying, “My identity is a mixture of American, Canadian, and Mexican cultures… classical, jazz, and popular musical backgrounds.” However, this list of (well-intentioned) labels felt reductive at best, exclusionary at worst. I frequently found myself unable to answer convincingly the question, “Where do I fit in?” In April 2021, I watched my friend Steven Banks premiere his new work, Come As You Are. In his performance notes, he shared his thoughts about accepting his own plurality as a form of strength and opportunity. That performance and those notes brought me considerable affirmation in my own journey towards individuation. Subsequently, it inspired this collection of music celebrating plurality rather than dividing and isolating personal and musical identities, culminating in a collaborative work that celebrates us as we are.

—Julian Velasco, Emerging Artist Competition Winner

Deeply personal stories such as the one Julian’s album tells make recordings such a uniquely meaningful vehicle for artistic expression. Crucially, Cedille covers all costs associated with the recording, production, and promotion of an album, allowing artists to focus on the music. Cedille is honored to be able to share stories such as Julian’s with worldwide audiences thanks to your support.



Mary Elizabeth Bowden, praised for her “splendid, brilliant” artistry (Gramophone), celebrates the narrative power of the trumpet. Bowden is joined by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and conductor Allen Tinkham in a collection of new concertos that redefine the trumpet’s voice in modern classical music.

Monthly Playlist

To celebrate Cedille’s May 10 release of the Pacifica Quartet‘s American Voices, featuring music based on folk and popular music elements, a playlist of pieces based on folk songs, dances, hymns, spirituals, etc. (real or invented). We’ll add tracks from the new album when it’s released on 5/10.

Album of the Week

Enjoy 25% off of Cedille’s Featured Release.

Listen Now

On this episode of Classical Chicago, Cedille President Jim Ginsburg talks with Pacifica Quartet violinist Austin Hartman about his experience recording Cedille’s latest release, American Voices. The multiple Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet continues its highly acclaimed recording series that explores the sounds of America with an album comprising string quartets incorporating elements of American folk music and spirituals by Antonín Dvořák, Florence Price, and Louis Gruenberg, plus a new work by James Lee III.