Kyle Krause (Photo provided)

Kyle Krause knew his first year at Northern Illinois University that he'd compete in the Concerto Competition with his own composition.

Now a senior, the 22-year-old from Marengo has become the first to win the competition by performing a concerto he wrote.

Krause, who has been composing music since age 10, took the honor in stride.

"I started writing [the concerto] about a year ago, but I was planning it for awhile," he said.

As for his natural ability to compose music, he said, "It comes to your or it doesn't."

Krause will debut his concerto at 8 p.m. Feb. 12 in front of the NIU Philharmonic Orchestra at Boutell Concert Hall at NIU in DeKalbe. A live webcast of the performance will be available at or by clicking on "Events" and then a link to the NIU Live Webcast.

Krause, who is majoring in piano performance and composition at NIU, will perform along with three soloists, basically those students selected as the most talented for the semester.

Excited about the upcoming performance, Krause said he's definitely prepared.

"When I first started [writing] it was more like a hobby," he said. "I was really into the performing side because I'm a pianist. It was kind of like a side thing. In college, it really grew on me, and I started favoring it. My goals are still to be a pianist, but I'd rather focus more on composition."

Krause said he'd like to eventually teach composition at a university.

His parents, Walter and Kimberly Krause of Marengo, can't help but boast about his recent honor.

Of their three children, all have found success playing piano and organ. At age 20, Ryan Krause also is studying composition and piano performance at NIU and plays the piano for an area church. And 17-year-old Kevin Krause also plays piano at an area church.

"We're pretty jazzed," Walter Krause said. "It's been a long road with the kids. They're all gifted in one way or another."

Kyle Krause became a fan of classical music when he attended a symphony in Rockford. All of the Krause children began piano lessons at about age 5, wanting to follow in their father's footsteps.

"I play a little jazz piano but nothing as serious or complicated as what the kids are doing," Walter Krause said. "They're all farther advanced than me. ... You never know where it's going to lead."