Madeleine Folkerts to join Chinook Winds/Great Falls Symphony as principal horn player
Chinook Winds/Cascade Quartet begins new season on Sept. 9 at Heritage Hall
Nearly any college graduate knows that finding a job right out of school can sometimes be a daunting prospect. For me, it took at least six months to find a job, and it took at least four or five interviews before I landed it.
Others can spend even longer to secure a solid gig, but then there’s some who land amazing jobs right out of the gates.
Madeleine Folkerts can now say she’s one of those people.
Folkerts just completed her Bachelor’s courses earlier this year at St. Olaf College just south of Minneapolis, Minn., where she majored in horn performance and psychology/neuroscience.
Naturally, she wanted to start auditioning and she tried out for the principal horn position with the Great Falls Symphony on July 31 along with six other talented musicians from across the globe. After only a few short days, she got the call that they liked her audition and planned on hiring her to replace Mike Nelson, who is now in the Bozeman/Billings area working as a performer/instructor.
Folkerts said she was surprised and delighted to hear they chose her. She hadn’t even gotten home yet to Port Orchard, Wash., when she got the news.
“I was actually still driving home, I had driven all day that Tuesday and was a half hour away from home when I got the call,” she said. “I was really excited. It’s always hard to know what’s going to happen, I mean, even if you walk away feeling good, it doesn’t always go your way, so I was very excited that I walked away feeling good and they had too I guess.”
Folkerts said she’s still somewhat shocked that she’ll be working as an orchestra musician right after college, but said she can’t wait to begin her new journey in the Electric City. She said she had in fact already had her belongings moved to Arizona, where she had tentative plans to pursue her Master’s Degree at the University of Arizona and play in the Fred Fox Graduate Wind Quintet.
But, she said while she had those plans in motion, she’s happy to have a new home in Montana, and said she can hardly wait to start moving here and developing new relationships with the other Chinook Winds’ performers, Norman Gonzales on flute; Lauren Blackerby on oboe; Christopher Mothersole on clarinet and Dorian Antipa, on bassoon.
Folkerts won’t be the only new face in the symphony this year, either. Joining her will be new conductor Grant Harville, who is starting his first season replacing Gordon Johnson, who retired at the end of this last season.
Folkerts said she’s anticipating a smooth transition and that she’ll be ready to honor the old traditions in the Great Falls Symphony while also perhaps starting a few new ones, too.
“I’m excited to see how both the orchestra and the quintet operates,” she said. “It’s been going for many, many years, and from what I’ve heard it has some amazing traditions, but I also bring hope to develop my own. It’s always so very exciting to go to a new place, and be influenced by it, and, hopefully, be able to influence it as well.”
While Folkerts is a new graduate, she’s had plenty of performing experience under her belt already. In addition to playing at St. Olaf, she’s played with the National Repertory Orchestra, and previously attended the National Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Music Institute (2016) and the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute (2015).
She said playing with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colo., was an “intense” experience but one in which she learned a lot about the intricacies involved with being a professional classical musician.
“It was a very rewarding two months spent along with 80-some other musicians around my age and we put together almost 18 different programs and did 20-some performances in (that time,)” she said. “I think the lessons I learned in how to play in an orchestra and both lead and play in a section with very well-rounded players helped prepare me for my audition and will continue to help my performances in the orchestra and wind quintet.”
Folkerts said she started playing French Horn in grade school after learning piano at an early age. She said she knew almost immediately that it was the instrument she most wanted to play when given a choice of which ones to try.
“In about 4th grade the school had a show of instruments to show kids who may be interested in band,” she said. “I, for whatever reason, maybe just the way it looked or whatever, I wanted to play horn, but, I had to wait a year, so I played trumpet for a year and then by the time 6th-grade started I got my hands on a horn and it’s been great. It was just love at first sight.”
Since starting with the horn, in her experience, she said, she much prefers playing with other musicians versus playing as a soloist, although she said she does like that some, as well.
“It’s the most rewarding when you have people around you who you can connect with onstage, and offstage with the audience,” she said. “There’s something magical about that.”
You can see Folkerts join the Chinook Winds for the first time at the Chamber Fun 101 at noon on Sept. 9 at Heritage Hall on the campus of Great Falls College MSU. The first “official” Quartet show is Sept. 24 and Sept. 26. Those shows are titled “Fall Flavors” and will feature parings of food and music catered by Wines by Wednesday, Cory Block Bakery, Prairie Heritage Farms and A Land Of Grass. The Sept. 24 show is at Heritage Hall and the Sept. 26 show is at 5th and Vine, the new Wines by Wednesday event space right next to their restaurant located at 214 5th St S.
For complete details on the Chinook Winds’ concert and tour season, visit chinookwinds.org. For details and ticket information regarding the Great Falls Symphony’s 2017-2018 season, visit gfsymphony.org. Also check back for an interview in Big Sky State Buzz with Mr. Harville as the full symphony season approaches.