The American harppsichordist, organist and conductor, Paul Boehnke, fell in love with recordings of the fugues of J.S. Bach when he was 14. The next year he began study in organ and was introduced to the music of Louis and François Couperin, Dietrich Buxtehude, Byrd and the ideas of early fingering and notes inégales. Since then his interest in early music has steadily deepened. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Organ from St. Olaf College (1978-1982), he began work on a Master of Music at Arizona State University. It was there that he began studying the harpsichord under John Metz. Upon completion of his degree (1982-1984), he returned to Minnesota. He also studied Graphic Design at the University of Minnesota (1992-1993).
During the next 11 years Paul Boehnke actively pursued a life in early music. He held a teaching appointment in harpsichord at Macalester College in St. Paul. He was a guest lecturer in early performance practice at the summer music camp at St. Olaf College. But most importantly Paul and a colleague formed Musica da camera, a period instrument chamber ensemble. He shepherded the group through incorporation as a nonproﬁt, six years of concerts including a new commission for the group and a public master-class for local musicians with Christopher Hogwood. Paul also never stopped his own study of early music. He worked periodically with Christopher Hogwood, Edward Parmentier, Joel Revson and Barbara Weiss.
In 1995 Paul Boehnke and his wife, violist da gamba, Julie Elhard, moved to The Netherlands to continue their studies. There Paul studied harpsichord with Jacques Ogg at the Academie voor Oude Musik in Amrterdam (1995-1996). While there he also played for Wilbert Hazelzet, Marion Verbruggen and Baldrich Deerenburg.
Since returning to the States, Paul Boehnke has been heard in ever more varied contexts. He has been a guest artist with the Newberry Consort and Second City Music, both of Chicago. He has performed solo recitals in San Francisco and at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD. Paul has appeared at the Madison Early Music Festival and the national conclaves of the Viola da Gamba Society of America. Paul has been a frequent guest artist at the University of Minnesota’s annual Bach Festival and with Lyra Baroque Orchestra. He has coached ensembles and taught master-classes locally and as far away as Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.
From 2007 to 2016 Paul Boehnke was the Artistic Director for the Bach Society of Minnesota. His seasons at the helm produced varied programs of concerts which included sacred cantatas, orchestral works, and small chamber works. The performances were met with great enthusiasm and inspired a new vigor in the organization. His instigation of the popular Cantata Workshops brought the performance of J.S. Bach's music to many amateur singers and players.
For 15 years (2001-2015), Paul Boehnke served as organist/choir director at Olivet Congregational Church in St. Paul, Minnesota where he often presented early music with period instruments and soloists and where he recorded a CD celebrating the 25th anniversary of the mechanical action organ at the church. Paul and his wife, Julie share their home with their son Bryan and their cats Snowflake, Muffin and Pumpkin.