John Behnke is a frequent organ recitalist, handbell clinician and festival director. He enjoys composing and arranging having nearly 450 handbell, choral and organ compositions in print with numerous publishers in the United States, Germany and Taiwan.
Previously John served 13 years as Music Editor for AGEHR Music - Handbell Musicians of America, 13 years as the director of the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble and 29 years as Organist and Choir Director at Historic Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee, WI. He is Emeritus Professor of Music at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin where he taught organ, graduate handbell courses, and directed The Alleluia Ringers, Concordia's touring handbell choir for 29 years from 1986 until August of 2015.
He was honored in December of 1993 being named "MVP" Most Valuable Player in the Milwaukee area by Milwaukee Sentinel music critic, Nancy Raabe. He has also received an ASCAP Composers Award every year since 1998.
A 1974 graduate of Concordia-River Forest, IL. he received his M. Mus. in Church Music and Organ from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. in 1978. His D. Mus. was awarded to him in 1984 by Northwestern University where he was elected into the Alpha Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, a National Honorary Music Society. From August 1978 to July 1979 Dr. Behnke studied at the Westphalian Church Music Institute in Herford, W. Germany, where he passed the "A" Exam in Organ with the grade of "1-Excellent".