David von Behren, a Falls City native and music student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, is busy making a national (international, even) name for himself in the field of classical pipe organ music, to little surprise to locals who watched the native son’s musicianship grow right in front of their eyes; whether young David was tickling the ivories or playing first fiddle.
This summer, his talents will be on display in the U.S. from coast-to-coast, as well as on foreign soil. von Behren has a busy summer ahead of him. The FCHS graduate and organ performance/music theory double major will be a featured performer at the Oregon Bach Festival at the University of Oregon this summer; he will study in England, and utilize study breaks to play pipe organs on a tour of Germany for the Harvard University Organ Society. It’s his second leg – von Behren in 2015 joined the Ivy Leaguers in France. It will be a demanding schedule; lazy summers are either a thing of the past for von Behren or an altogether foreign concept to the ambitious young man (we’re betting the latter). He has devoted much of his nearly 22 years (his birthday is later this month) to perfecting many different disciplines and performing music. Audiences throughout the world are beginning to familiarize themselves with the new Master from the Midwest. His exposure rose exponentially recently when he and 19 other up-and-coming stars were named to the prestigious “20 Under 30” Class of 2016 by The Diapason international journal.
The elite “20 Under 30” awards are presented to young musicians “who are setting the pace for the future of the pipe organ, harpsichord, carillon, and church music,” according to the nomination materials. “We want to shine the spotlight on those young people who will help determine where our field is headed, why it is headed that way, and how we will get there. We are looking for 20 men and women under 30 years of age who are already exhibiting superior accomplishments, leadership, creativity, and innovative thinking.”
The winners are selected annually from a field of more than 100 nominees.
The Diapason is a monthly publication devoted to organ, harpsichord and church music. Each issue includes feature stories, as well as reviews of new music, recordings and books. von Behren and the other 19 musicians will be featured in its May 2016 issue.
Though he’ll turn just 22 years old later this month, von Behren’s list of accolades is increasingly extensive. As the winner of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award on National Public Radio’s “From the Top,” von Behren’s radio performance was heard by an estimated half a million listeners, or more. He was the winner of the Tuesday Music Association Organ Competition in Akron, OH, the Henry Fusner Prize and Heinrich Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement in the CIM Organ Department, the M. Louise Miller National Organ Scholarship, and holds the Colleague Certificate by the American Guild of Organists.
He has collaborated with two-time Grammy winning clarinetist Franklin Cohen at the Cleveland ChamberFest Verve Gala, studied Jacobs, and participated on the Harvard Organ Society Tour of France and the Netherlands. He will rejoin the HOS this summer for a tour of central and southern Germany, which will coincide with his studies at the Oundle Summer Organ Academy in England.
Also an accomplished violinist, von Behren has performed in orchestra festivals at Carnegie Hall and the John F. Kennedy Center, and serves on the executive committee of the Cleveland American Guild of Organists Chapter.
Currently, von Behren works as the music intern at Plymouth Church, UCC, in Shaker Heights, OH, playing the organ for worship services and working with the choirs. He introduced “Plymouth Kids’ Koncerts,” an informal concert venue for children and youth to share their musical talents in a supportive and encouraging environments. von Behren for years has actively advocated for introducing and exciting younger audiences about classical music. In 2013, he began “The Little Stars Summer Program,” a music program for children 3-to-11 years in Falls City, in association with “From the Top” and The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. In June 2015, his music program won a one-year endorsement with the National Federation of Music Clubs, and beginning May 2016, the “Little Stars Summer Music Program” will partner with First Presbyterian Church of Falls City to introduce the pipe organ to young children within the program’s five-day curriculum.
The son of John and Glenda von Behren, of Falls City, David, in his “spare” time, can be spotted running half marathons costumed as various superheroes.
If anybody can pull off wearing a cape, this is the guy.