Michael Folker, Percussion
When did you begin to play your instrument?
I started with piano as early as I can remember (my mother was the local piano teacher and I had no choice). But I discovered the drums when I was 10 and was forever bitten by the drumming bug”.
Where did you study your main instrument; with whom?
I did my Bachelor’s Degree at Millikin University and then my Master’s in Percussion Performance from DePaul University. I studied with Tom Akins, Timpanist of the Indianapolis Symphony; Al Payson, Percussionist with Chicago Symphony and Mike Green, Lyric Opera of Chicago. I also studied with a number of other Chicago Symphony members during my early years in Chicago.
When did you join ESO?
I think it was in 1990….give or take a year.
What other orchestras have you played with/do you play with now?
I am also a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta and the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. I’ve performed numerous times with the Milwaukee Symphony…including a tour with them to Cuba in 1999, Chicago Symphony, Grant Park Symphony, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, and various other groups and orchestras in the area.
What was your most memorable ESO performance?
I honestly have a hard time answering that as there are many concerts that have been standouts. To be honest, I love playing with the ESO. Daniela and I met in the ESO so there’s something very special about it … additionally, I love my colleagues that I work with. They’re family to us and thus, every concert in many ways seems like a family reunion. But truly one special concert of note was actually a family concert we did a few years ago which featured the show I wrote titled “The Magic of Rhythm”. It featured Daniela, our son Christopher and myself. You can’t get more magical than that.
What are some of your interests, and how are you passing the time?
I’ve been teaching private percussion lessons several days a week via on-line lessons. I love the opportunity to work with students especially during this challenging time. I try to create a positive and empowering situation for students to help encourage them since many are cooped up and struggling with a loss of routine, etc.
I’ve been working on various “world percussion” instruments which I love for their unique sounds and rhythms.
My personal interests and hobbies are vintage cars and watching vintage auto racing….(actually any kind of auto racing). I love spending time with our son, Christopher and tinkering on and driving our 1958 MGA sports car and our 1965 Bentley S III (affectionately called ‘Duchess”). I love cruising around on my Vespa motor scooter as well. My son and I are also working on restoring a 1961 Triumph TR3 sports car which I’ve owned since I was 18 years old. It’s long overdue for a restoration.
I also like spending time practicing magic tricks, card & coin tricks and illusions….wishing I could make Covid “disappear”.
Lastly, I love grilling out. I’m outside every evening firing up the grill and trying new recipes.