Atlanta Chamber Players musicians Justin Bruns, Catherine Lynn, Brad Ritchie and Alcides Rodriguez. (courtesy ACP)

Benjamin Krause wins sixth Rapido! Composition Contest

Mark Gresham | 19 JAN 2021

On Sunday afternoon the Atlanta Chamber Players performed their Rapido! National Finals Concert at the Walter Hill Auditorium at the High Museum of Art. The concert was the conclusion the sixth cycle of the Rapido! 14 Day Composition Contest and was live-streamed in addition to accommodating a very limited invited live audience in the hall, due to continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

led the panel of three adjudicators was Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Aspen Music Festival; Michael Gandolfi (attending virtually via internet), composer and faculty member of New England Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Festival; and Brian Raphael Nabors, composer and Grand Prize winner of the fifth Rapido! contest cycle. Together they selected the grand prize-winning composer from the five national finalists.

l-r: composers Benedikt Brydern, Ashley Floyd, Benjamin Krause, Ben Robichaux and Nicky Sohn. (composite, individual images courtescy of ACP)

l-r: composers Benedikt Brydern, Ashley Floyd, Benjamin Krause, Ben Robichaux and Nicky Sohn. (composite, individual images courtescy of ACP)

The five finalist composers and their compositions, performed in the following order, were:

  • Benedikt Brydern: Ions 2020
  • Ashley Floyd: Breath Marks
  • Benjamin Krause: Notes From Inside
  • Ben Robichaux: Mass for Voiceless Numbers
  • Nicky Sohn: Toad Toad

Due to COVID restrictions and risks of travel, All of the composers viewed the concert online. Each piece was introduced by video interview of the respective composer.

Four musicians from Atlanta Chamber Players – clarinetist Alcides Rodriguez, violinist Justin Bruns, violist Catherine Lynn and cellist Brad Ritchie — performed all five of the nascent compositions.


After the performance was over, the judges deliberated and chose Benjamin Krause as the Grand Prize winner. At the same time, an electronic poll of online viewers chose Ben Robichaux as the Audience Favorite.

In announcing the Grand Prize, Spano remarked about how “the five [composers] we heard today very very impressive. […] It always makes it a difficult decision when when there’s so much talent in evidence, but we were particularly struck with the work of Benjamin Krause.”

As grand prize winner, Krause will be awarded a Grand Prize package that includes $3500 cash award, a 2-week residency at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, the opportunity to expand his winning composition into a 15 minute work for performance by the Atlanta chamber players during their 2021-22 season, and the potential to write a new work for our Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Robichaux, as Audience Favorite, will receive a $500 cash award.


More than 200 composers nationwide registered to participate in this season’s Rapido! competition. From them, five finalists were selected and notified. Then on June 1, 2020 at 9:00am ET, each of the finalists were sent an email giving them the following criteria:

Write a four to six-minute work for violin, viola, cello and clarinet with the theme being a musical response to the individual and worldwide effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were given 14 days from the date of that notification to finish their entry.

The five composers spent the next two weeks writing their pieces,  then preparing and submitting the full score, individual parts, and an electronically-generated demo recording of their work for the musicians to  use in preparing for Sunday’s concert.

The Rapido! 14 Day Composition Contest was founded by the Atlanta Chamber Players and The Antinori Foundation to promote new works for chamber ensemble. ■

Mark Gresham is a an American composer and music journalist. He is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant.