Faculty Profiles

faculty photo michael folker conservatory pt

Michael Folker

Guest Lecturer (Percussion)

On Faculty since 2001

Michael Folker has been performing in the Chicagoland area for the past thirty years. He is Principal Percussionist with the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Chicago Opera Theater, and the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra. He is also a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, and Lake Forest Symphony.

Michael has performed and recorded with the Chicago Symphony, Grant Park Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Symphony. He has also performed with pop groups such as the Moody Blues, Kansas, and Styx, as well as classical performers including Luciano Pavaratti and Victor Borge. Mr. Folker has also performed with Céline Dion, Linda Ronstadt, Andrea Bocelli, Art Garfunkel, The Three Tenors, Doc Severson, The Irish Tenors, Johnny Mathis, Josh Groban, and Mannheim Steamroller.

In addition to live concerts, Michael has recorded for both television and radio commercials including Kellogg’s Cereals, United Airlines, McDonalds, and Nintendo.

Michael is a graduate of DePaul University where he earned a Master’s Degree in Performance and studied with Mr. Al Payson of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Performance from Millikin University.  During this period, he also studied with Mr. Tom Akins, Timpanist of the Indianapolis Symphony.

In addition to performing and teaching at Wheaton Conservatory, Mr. Folker is also Director of Percussion at Judson University in Elgin (IL).

He is the creator of “The Magic of Music” and “The Magic of Rhythm”, both of which are educational programs designed to teach young audiences about the wonders of live music. Michael is also the founder of “Rhythm For Life”, a program designed to empower and build life skills through rhythm & drumming.

DePaul University
M.M. percussion performance, 1982

Millikin University
B.M. percussion performance, 1980