Mike Folker, a music professor at the college, is a very busy guy. He is balancing teaching at both COD and Wheaton College, performing as a percussionist in the Joffrey Ballet, and performing his “Magic of Music” show.
Folker started doing magic as a kid but “when I moved to Chicago, I studied with a well-known magician and that got me inspired.”
After this, he began performing magic for clubs, restaurants, and private parties. In 2000, he attended a large-scale magic show and thought he would like to do that one day. He began talking to the conductor of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, of which he is a member, and began to write his own show that integrated both of his passions: magic and music. He then spent a year writing and picking illusions.
In 2001, he did 8 performances of the show and it “went over really great, the audience loved it,” said Folker. He also said the show has been “something I really wanted to do and I’ve been able to do it.” Soon other orchestras began to hire him to do the show with them.
He also created another show called “Abra-ca-music” that was performed in the MAC a few times. The show also traveled to Michigan, Indiana, and was performed 3 times on New Year’s Eve one year. In this show, he performed with his wife, Daniela, who plays violin and also teaches at the college.
Another show he performed was called “Magic of Rhythm” which consisted of himself, his wife, and another percussionist. This show traveled around to different grade schools. Folker said for this show he had “changed some things, added new illusions.” He will be performing the “Magic of Rhythm” show until December. Folker said, “When I perform, that’s not work, it’s a lot of fun.”
“The Magic of Music” show just had two sold out performances at the Edman Chapel at Wheaton College last week. Folker “received wonderful comments, someone said it was the best children’s show Wheaton College Symphony has had.”
Folker has performed with the Chicago Opera Theater and the Milwaukee Symphony as well as some well-known performers. He has played with Celine Dion, Nick Carter, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, the Moody Blues, Kansas, Carrie Underwood, and Art Garfunkal. He said “the variety is a lot of fun” and that “building a reputation” in the industry is really important.
Folker says that he “encourages his students to dream high” because he says a lot of the time “students set the bar too low.” He said that he put in “a lot of time and dedication to do these things and it was a lot of work but the journey was well worth it.” He said, “if you believe in yourself and that you can do it, you can realize those dreams.”