Staples of your Orchestra: Earle Folger

  • Friday, October 18, 2013

Michael Quirk/Journal Scene Earle Folger poses with three sets of drumsticks that he uses during performances with the Summerville Community Orchestra.

Orchestras are made up of numerous moving parts. There are the woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion and conductor. Earle Folger said that all of the components need to be in-tune for the finished product to work smoothly.

“You have to look at an orchestra as a community. All the individuals have roles and when everyone plays their role, you have a town.”

The Church of Christ deacon related the metaphor to 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 that reads of the body functioning as an ensemble of many parts with equal significance.

Folger makes up two parts of the Summerville Community Orchestra’s body: percussionist and equipment manager.

Before and after each performance he is running to unload the chairs, stands and equipment before setting it up and unloading again. He does get help from time to time, but the brunt of the work falls on his shoulders and he said the plight comes with the territory.

“Drummers always get stuck with cleaning and loading stuff up. Other musicians think that because we are packing up all of our stuff, that we might as well do the rest of it.”

A native of Brevard, N.C. in the western part of the state, Folger began playing drums in high school after being denied his dream instrument by his middle school band teacher.

“Every boy wants to play the drums growing up,” he said. “My band teacher told me I couldn’t because I didn’t pass the drums part of our test so I took up trumpet instead.”

Once he started playing the drums in ninth grade, he hit the ground running. Folger played in the marching and concert bands along with a “rock and roll country” band named “Cowboy.”

His love of performing is the feeling of being part of a group, he said.

He attended UNC-Greensboro where he played in the band before transferring to Clemson, an hour outside of Brevard.

With an engineering degree in hand, he went to work for the Charleston Naval Shipyard. After six years he returned to school, earning his masters degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina.

Folger returned to the Lowcountry to become an environmental engineer with the Air Force.

He took a 20-year hiatus from percussion, as he was unable to find a practice and performing schedule that fit around his work, family life and volunteer work as a deacon. It wasn’t until 2007 that he found the SCO.

“Your ability to read music is always there, it’s the practicing to get back to your proficiency level that is hard,” he said.

He cited music director Alex Agrest’s energy as one of the reasons he enjoys playing in the SCO.

“The energy is projected from Alex to the musicians to the audience back to us, the flow is pretty unique,” he said. “How it’s performed, Alex has created quite a musical group and the quality of music is exceptional.”

Whether it is drumming or unloading equipment, Folger is simply doing his best to be another part of the orchestra’s body.

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