Gunnar Folsom is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most in-demand percussionists. His expertise includes a wide range of styles and genres including symphonic music, musical theater, contemporary chamber music, R&B, and jazz. Over the years as a freelance percussionist, Gunnar has performed with such luminaries as Patti Austin, David Benoit, Sheena Easton, Marvin Hamlisch, James Ingrahm, Al Jarreau, Melissa Manchester, Doc Severinsen, the Smothers Brothers, the Three Irish Tenors, and Allen Toussaint.
Gunnar has been a member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra since 1999, and has performed with the Seattle Symphony, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Vancouver Symphony, the New World Symphony, the New Haven Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, and the Bellingham Festival of Music.
As a chamber musician, Gunnar has performed with The Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble, The Tallis Scholars, Ensemble Sospeso, the Seattle Chamber Players, the Seattle Modern Orchestra, and the Festival Chamber Music Society at Merkin Hall in New York. He is a founding member of Pacific Rims, a percussion quartet based in Seattle.
As a drum set player, Gunnar was prominently featured in two world premiere ballets created specifically for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. In 2008,
‘Take Five. . .More Or Less” was choreographed by Susan Stroman and set to the music of Dave Brubeck. In 2013, “Waiting At The Station” was choreographed by Twyla Tharp and showcased the legendary Blues/R & B musician Allen Toussaint.
Gunnar has recorded countless movie and video game soundtracks, and has performed under the direction of Hollywood film composers Michael Kamen, Elmer Bernstein, Christopher Young, and Leonard Rosenman, He can be heard on The Legend Of Zelda 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD, which was recorded and produced by Koji Kondo and Nintendo in 2011.
Gunnar has performed in the ‘pits’ of Seattle’s Paramount Theater and 5th Avenue Theater. He performed in Oliver as well as in the national tours of Light In The Piazza and Wicked.
Gunnar devotes much of his career to teaching and mentoring young musicians. His private students have won top honors at the WMEA State Solo Contest, and many have gone on to study at conservatories throughout the country. Gunnar serves on the faculties of the University of Puget Sound and the Marrowstone Music Festival. Gunnar is a percussion coach for the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras: the largest youth symphony organization in the country. He previously taught percussion at New England Music Camp in Sidney, Maine.
Gunnar received a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music where he studied with Christopher Lamb, Duncan Patton, and Don Liuzzi.
Photo: Steve Korn