Thursday, November 20, 2014

Happy 25th Anniversary, Cedille Records!

Click here to watch a video of Cedille Records recording
artists talk about the impact Cedille has on their careers.
At this precarious moment in the music industry in which CD sales are globally declining, Chicago-based Cedille Records has not only beat the odds but is flourishing. From the expansion of the number of CDs produced each year, a growing roster of recording artists, and four Grammies for their eighth blackbird recordings, Cedille Records has proven itself a vibrant entity in the classical music world. This year, they celebrate their 25th anniversary with an assortment of concerts and special events scattered throughout the 2014–2015 concert season.

Cedille has recorded my works on seven CDs with a host of talented ensembles and individuals including the Lincoln Trio, Chicago a cappella, Grant Park Chorus, Gaudete Brass, mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott, pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, and the (now defunct) Biava Quartet. Cedille recorded the first ever all-Garrop chamber CD titled In Eleanor’s Words: Music of Stacy Garrop. Cedille is currently recording my fourth string quartet with the Avalon Quartet (who are new to the label), as well as producing an all-Garrop orchestral CD featuring the Chicago College of Performing Arts Orchestra (also new to the label).

What makes Cedille so special? I find there are several aspects:

With flutist and fellow Cedille recording artist
Eugenia Moliner at Soirée Cedille
• James Ginsburg, president of Cedille Records, made it the company’s mission to mainly focus on Chicago area musicians and composers. The company often records pieces they consider under-represented. They occasionally work with ensembles that are from outside the area (always in projects with a Chicago connection), but for the most part, Mr. Ginsburg has carefully cultivated a diverse group of Chicago artists that offer a great amount of variety to his label.  I find that this Chicago-based focus encourages Cedille’s artists to collaborate with each other on potential CD projects.

• Cedille helps artists develop their careers over time. Some artists are regulars on the label – violinists Rachel Barton Pine and Jennifer Koh, eighth blackbird, and the Pacifica Quartet are all in this category – and have created an assortment of CDs that explore an astoundingly diverse range. For instance, when Ms. Pine was pregnant, she was inspired to research and record lullabies; when the Pacifica Quartet proposed to record Shostakovich’s fifteen string quartets, they wanted to add a piece of Shostakovich’s contemporaries onto every CD in this multi-CD project. While Mr. Ginsburg doesn’t accept all projects that artists propose, he carefully chooses those that have something unique to offer both the label and its audiences. Cedille furthers its commitment to artists by never removing recordings from its catalog.

• Cedille allows its artists to be extremely involved in just about every aspect of a project. Suggesting repertoire, actively participating in the recording sessions (while this is obvious for performers, it isn’t necessarily so for composers), proofing the recordings before they go on the market, even ideas for covers and liner notes – Cedille is open to it all. This, for me, is unprecedented access to the shaping of the project that allows me to be an essential part of the process.

• The company actively promotes its products. Cedille’s distribution is handled by Naxos of America in the Western Hemisphere and by major independent distributors in international markets elsewhere. Cedille regularly purchases advertising in Fanfare magazine (on the back cover, which gives their products a lot of exposure), as well as sends information about new releases, plus the CDs themselves, to hundreds of music critics, writers, press outlets, and classical radio stations in the U.S. and internationally. As a result of these strong promotional efforts, new CDs are regularly reviewed by a number of publications and critics (I received seven for my In Eleanor’s Words CD) and aired coast-to-coast on classical radio.

Rachel Barton Pine and Wendy Warner
perform at Soirée Cedille
Without Cedille Records, my career wouldn’t be nearly as far along as it is. Cedille has given me a voice and a market to hear it. Their amazing producers and engineers craft high-quality products, which provides the classical music world with fantastic representations of how my music sounds in the hands and voices of talented performers. These CDs have led to numerous performances of my music around the country, as well as commissions for new works and the expansion of my fan base. Thank you Cedille Records for everything you do on behalf of Chicago artists!  Happy 25th Anniversary, and may the next twenty-five years be just as fruitful as your first.