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Cedille Records Turns 20

20 Significant Strides for Cedille Records

Cedille Records founder James Ginsburg lists 20 of the most significant developments in the label’s 20 years of operation:

November 1989 Cedille releases its first recording, Dmitry Paperno Plays Russian Piano Music.

October 1993 The label releases its first symphonic recording: the world-premiere recording of Easley Blackwood’s Fifth Symphony, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by James DePreist, paired with Blackwood’s First Symphony (via RCA Records), with the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by Charles Munch.

January 1994 The newly formed, nonprofit Chicago Classical Recording Foundation assumes responsibility for Cedille Records, enabling the label to pursue a sustained — and increasingly ambitious — recording schedule and maintain effective marketing and promotional support for its new releases.

April 1994 Internationally recognized chamber ensemble the Vermeer Quartet joins Cedille’s artist roster with its CD of Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 2 in F, Op. 22, and “Souvenirde Florence” in D minor, Op. 70.

September 1995 With several world-premieres, the Chicago Chamber Musicians’ David Diamond Chamber Music introduces important works by a major contemporary composer.

May 1997 Rachel Barton Pine’s CD of Handel violin sonatas marks her Cedille debut and the beginning of a fruitful, long-term collaboration between Pine and Cedille. Ms. Pine and her period-instrument colleagues on the recording, cellist John Mark Rozendaal and keyboard artist David Schrader, later go on to concertize and record (for Cedille) as Trio Settecento. The Handel sonatas CD becomes one of the label’s long-time best-selling CDs.

October 1997 The label’s first opera recording, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium, materializes through the artistry of mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle, soprano Patrice Michaels, and others, in this collaboration with Chicago Opera Theater. At the time of its release, it was the only available recording of the oft-produced opera.

November 2000 Paul Freeman and the Chicago Sinfonietta are heard in the first of a three-CD project, the African Heritage Symphonic Series, the first such survey of orchestral music by black composers since Freeman’s landmark LP series on CBS Records.

February 2002 Cedille presents the highly successful concert premiere of Divas of Mozart’s Day, featuring soprano Patrice Michaels, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. A studio recording, including a previously unrecorded Mozart recitative, is released later that year.

April 2002 Sporting “I like Schweik” buttons reminiscent of the Eisenhower era, Cedille representatives unveil the world-premiere recording of Robert Kurka’s 1957 opera The Good Soldier Schweik at a label-hosted press luncheon at the Czech Center New York.

June 2002 Cedille’s first release with the Grant Park Orchestra and its principal conductor Carlos Kalmar marks the recording debut of the 1998 Casavant Frères organ in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, played by David Schrader. The disc includes world-premiere recordings of Michael Colgrass’s Snow Walker for Organ and Orchestra and Leo Sowerby’s Concertpiece for Organ and Orchestra and the CD premiere of Walter Piston’s Prelude and Allegro for Organ and Strings, plus Samuel Barber’s rarely recorded Toccata Festiva for Organ and Orchestra.

April 2003 New-music sextet eighth blackbird makes its commercial recording debut with Thirteen Ways.

June 2003 Cedille’s second recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, this time led by Carlos Kalmar, features violinist Rachel Barton Pine in concertos by Brahms and Joachim. The CD goes on to become the label’s all-time best seller, with sales surpassing 10,000 copies.

March 2005 Cedille begins supplying digital downloads to online retailers through a distributor agreement with The Orchard. In May 2008, it begins selling downloads directly to the public from its own Web site.

April 2005 The Pacifica Quartet’s three-CD set of Mendelssohn’s complete works for string quartet is Cedille’s first complete cycle of works by a major composer.

May 2005 Cedille Records and The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation host a 15th anniversary celebration in Ganz Hall at Roosevelt University, with performances by many of Cedille’s artists. As part of the anniversary celebration, Cedille lowers the price on its “First 15” releases.

October 2006 The mid-price Cedille FOUNDation label makes its debut with a CD of newly remastered archival performances of the William Ferris Chorale singing masses by Gian Carlo Menotti and Louis Vierne.

February 2008 The label gets its first Grammy Award when eighth blackbird’s strange maginary animals wins for Best Chamber Music Performance.

September 2008 The modern world gets to hear the work that inspired Beethoven’s Violin Concerto — Franz Clement’s 1805 Violin Concerto, a world-premiere recording of a major musical discovery. The Clement concerto is paired on the Cedille CD with Beethoven’s concerto. Artists are violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by José Serebrier.

October 2008 In anticipation of composer Elliott Carter’s 100th birthday, Cedille releases Oppens Plays Carter, the only complete, up-to-date survey of Carter’s solo piano music. Pianist Ursula Oppens makes her Cedille label debut.