Nicholas Lell Benavides
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Nicolas Lell Benavides’ music has been praised for finding “…a way to sketch complete characters in swift sure lines…” (Anne Midgette, Washington Post) and described as “wonderfully structured and harmonically imaginative…” (Brian Rosen, Music vs Theater), “… sadly reflective… not a note was wasted” (San Francisco Classical Voice).


He has worked with prominent groups such as the Washington National Opera, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Friction Quartet, The Bay Brass, Nomad Session, Elevate Ensemble, One Found Sound, The International Orange Chorale, for change dance collective, and Siroko Duo. 


His work came to the attention of Alliance for New Music-Theatre with his twenty-minute opera, Pepito, created as part of Washington National Opera’s America Opera Initiative in 2018.  This short opera will be re-mounted by the Alliance in 2020. 

His upcoming premieres include a new work for Friction Quartet based on El Correcaminos (The Roadrunner), a new narrated work called Ocho Bendiciones for Nomad Session, and a new opera scene for USC’s inaugural New Opera Workshop. Recent commissions include a new opera for Washington National Opera called Pepito with librettist Marella Martin Koch, a new work for change dance collective incorporating Teatro Catalina in Nicaragua, an evening length work incorporating projections with wind octet Nomad Session based on small hidden spaces in San Francisco, and a 25th season anniversary piece, Rinconcito, for Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.


As the Artistic Director of the Guerrilla Composers Guild (, he has been called a “new music impresario of San Francisco” (Cy Musiker, KQED Arts). He was recently composer in residence with Nomad Session and was composer in residence with Elevate Ensemble. He also held residencies at Avaloch Farm in New Hampshire, and at the Visby International Composers Centre in Visby, Sweden.


Nick was 2016's winner of the Heartland Symphony Annual Composition Competition and placed first in SFCM's biennial Choir Composition Competition ('14). He was recently invited to be a fellow of the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab in and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy in 2018. Summer of 2019 Nick can be found in Cooperstown, New York as the first ever Young Artist Composer in Residence at Glimmerglass Festival.


Nick has studied composition primarily with Donald Crockett, Dan Becker, David Conte, and Kurt Rohde and has studied music at Santa Clara University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has worked with Gabriela Lena Frank, Jennifer Higdon, 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. He recently moved to LA to pursue a doctorate in music composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and spends his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco.


Nick has a love for journalism and current events, probably thanks to his wife Maggie Beidelman.


Nicolas (Nick) Lell Benavides