Nick Benavides


Headshot: Vivian Sachs

Nick Benavides’ music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post) and cooking up a “jaunty score [with] touches of cabaret, musical theater and Latin dance.” (Tim Smith, OPERA NEWS). He has worked with groups such as the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, West Edge Opera, Nashville Opera, New Opera West, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, and Nomad Session. He aspires to be a storyteller through music, frequently drawing on his Nuevomejicano roots and culture. His interview with i care if you listen (.com) about the importance of culture in music was widely shared.

Nick’s work with librettist Marella Martin Koch has produced a number of operatic collaborations. In addition to its premiere at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Washington National Opera, Pepito has been or will be performed by The Glimmerglass Festival, New Opera West, Nashville Opera, Shreveport Opera, and Texas Christian University Opera Studio. Music of Remembrance has commissioned a new work from Nick and Marella called Tres Minutos, which is slated to premiere in 2022.

Recent or upcoming premieres include a new cycle called Canto Caló for New Moon Duo, a narrated story piece called Ocho Bendiciones for Nomad Session, and Rinconcito for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. He workshopped scenes from his new opera Gilberto at The Glimmerglass Festival in conjunction with the young artist program as well as West Edge Opera as part of their Snapshot series. He was recently awarded a Presser Foundation grant to record Pepito with the original cast.

He was a fellow of the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab in and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Nick was the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at the Glimmerglass Festival. He was previously composer in residence with Nomad Session and Elevate Ensemble. He also held residencies at Avaloch Farm in New Hampshire, and at the Visby International Composers Centre in Visby, Sweden. 

Nick has studied composition primarily with Donald Crockett, Andrew Norman, Ted Hearne, Dan Becker, David Conte, and Kurt Rohde and has studied music at Santa Clara University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the University of Southern California. He has also worked with Gabriela Lena Frank, Jennifer Higdon, John Corigliano, Nico Muhly, Jake Heggie, and Gene Scheer. He was the managing director of Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Academy of Art University, and a teaching artist with the San Francisco Opera.