Musical compositions by Dr. Benjamin Krause of the Hope College music faculty have been recognized in three recent national and international competitions.
His work “Pathways” has won the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra (ICO) Composition Competition that took place in conjunction with the 54th Contemporary Music Festival held on Oct. 28-30. Sponsored by the Indiana State University (ISU) School of Music, the contest is designed to encourage the composition of and recognize outstanding music for the small orchestra. “Pathways” will be performed by ICO during its 2021-22 season; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the date is to be determined.
Also during the October ISU festival, Krause was one of eight composers named winners in the event’s 2020 Music Now Contest for solo and chamber pieces. He received the recognition for “Taxonomies of Pulse” for 2 pianos, which was presented in a livestreamed performance on Oct. 30.
In September, he was named one of five finalists for his work “Notes from Inside” in the annual Rapido! National Music Composition Contest created in 2009 by the Atlanta Chamber Players and the Aninori Foundation to promote new works for chamber ensembles. Nearly 200 composers submitted work for the contest, which called for original five-minute pieces for clarinet, violin, viola and cello with a theme related to the pandemic.
The Rapido! finalists’ compositions will premiere at the national finals concert scheduled for January 17 in Atlanta, with the winner asked to expanded the piece into a 15-minute work that the Atlanta Chamber Players will premiere during the 2021-22 season. The winner may also be chosen to compose a new work for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and receive a two-week residency at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts.
In addition, in August, Krause’s composition “Night Tides” for flute and piano received honorable mention in the 2020 Composition Competition sponsored by the Flute New Music Consortium, which has members around the country and across the world.
Through the years, Krause, who is an assistant professor of music and teaches music theory and composition, has had work recognized through a variety of commissions, awards and residencies, including from the Copland House, Houston Symphony, Network for New Music, Oregon Community Foundation, Presser Foundation, the Music Teachers National Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, ASCAP, Da Camera of Houston and The American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France. Among those previous honors, “Pathways” won the Houston Symphony’s inaugural Young Composer Competition in 2016, and he was named the 2018 Distinguished Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association in 2019 for “Taxonomies of Pulse.” In February of this year, he received Honorable Mention in the 2020 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Composition Award program for his composition “Six Lowell Songs” for soprano and piano.
He was recently commissioned by the Delgani String Quartet, with support from an Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights grant, to compose his 30-minute String Quartet No. 1 “Cascades,” a four-movement work inspired by the landscape atop the McKenzie Pass in the Oregon Cascade Range. Delgani has recently released a recording of the work on their album “Distant Monuments.”
An artist with diverse interests, Krause has collaborated with photographers, dancers, architects and filmmakers in his creative work. He was a Young Artist of Da Camera (2011-12) and received the 2012 Presser Award, enabling a summer of study in Europe at the American Conservatory of Fontainebleau, where his work was awarded the Prix Marion Tournon Branly. In the 2018-19 season he was in residency at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts in Wyoming, and, as a recipient of the Copland House Residency Award, at Aaron Copland’s historic home in Cortlandt Manor, New York.
Krause's music is characterized by its visceral rhythmic drive, tight motivic control, and colorful, dense, and nuanced harmonies reminiscent of jazz. His music draws freely and fluently from many historical traditions and aesthetics, both improvisational and carefully controlled, often creating new sound worlds through the absorption and synthesis of disparate musical idioms.
As a pianist, he is active in contemporary music, jazz and the traditional classical repertoire, with performances at Carnegie Hall, Zilkha Hall (Houston), the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection, and in collaboration with such artists as Molly Barth (Eighth Blackbird), Jeffrey Zeigler (the Kronos Quartet), Timothy McAllister (PRISM Saxophone Quartet) and Ronald Feldman (the Boston Symphony). In both solo performances and collaborations with many ensembles, he has premiered and performed more than 50 new works in a wide variety of venues, in addition to performing the works of major 20th and 21st century composers such as George Crumb, Louis Andriessen, John Cage and Pierre Jalbert. As a jazz pianist, he has appeared as a soloist and in performances with saxophonists Woody Witt and Horace Alexander Young, the VU Faculty Jazz Trio, and the Paul Ingram Jazz Quintet in San Diego, California.
As an educator, he has designed and taught university courses in composition, orchestration, music theory, aural skills and jazz. While a visiting assistant professor of music at Valparaiso University from 2015 to 2018, he founded and directed VUNUMU (Valparaiso University New Music Ensemble), coaching and leading performances of the work of leading contemporary composers as well as of that of student composers.
Krause holds composition degrees from Rice University (D.M.A.) and the University of Oregon (M.M.).