New music director takes over at Folkmoot

Dillon Ingle will only be the third music director in Folkmoot’s 33-year history.

The 32-year-old assistant band director at Tuscola High School is taking over the role from Anne Lough, who took over for longtime music director Flora Gammon. Gammon was at the helm for 30 of Folkmoot’s 33 festivals.

Music is the cornerstone of Folkmoot. Ingle knows he has an important role to play in this year’s Folkmoot Festival, which is to connect all the visiting international groups together through music.

“The hardest thing is we don’t all speak the same language — music is the only language we’re all connected with, so I’m going to try my best to combine those groups together,” Ingle said. 

The international dancing groups bring their own instruments and musicians to perform their numbers, but the Folkmoot music director is responsible for orchestrating the opening numbers and other performances throughout the week where all the groups dance together. With 8 countries represented at this year’s festival, it’s definitely going to be a challenge, but its one Ingle gladly accepts. 

“Folkmoot is super interesting — that’s why I’m doing it,” he said. “I’ve had plenty of challenges before me in the past so I’m ready for it.”

Ingle is bringing a fresh perspective to Folkmoot music this year. He’s been living in Waynesville for less than a year and hasn’t experienced a live Folkmoot performance — only videos from past events. Without any preconceived notions, he won’t be afraid to step out of the box to offer festivalgoers something new and different.  

“I want to take the more traditional style they’ve used and tweak some things — make it a new performance they haven’t seen before,” he said. 

Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab said she discovered Ingle at Tuscola because her son plays in the high school band. After discussing Folkmoot with him, she knew he had the perfect background to step into the role developed by Gammon for the last 30 years. 

“He’s the right person to inspire our international musicians and local musicians to work together,” she said. “He respects the past and the traditions, and at the same time he has proposed a way to spice up the program through the music. The audiences should expect a call and response performance and dramatic drum entrances.”

Ingle has a love for the drums. Originally from Kings Mountain, he majored in percussion at Western Carolina University. He also received his master’s degree at WCU in music education. After graduating, he began his teaching career in Brownsville, Texas, at a high school where the majority of his students were learning English as a second language. Again, Ingle is accustomed to having music to break that language barrier and is a huge advocate of music education. 

“It’s a scientific fact that playing an instrument makes you smarter,” he said. “It makes you think because you’re reading and interpreting music. With marching band, you’re dealing with leadership and team cooperation.”

During his time in Brownsville, Ingle co-founded the Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps, a competitive junior marching band for youth under 21, and served as percussion captain leader. He remains Genesis’ front ensemble supervisor and travels with the group during his free time throughout the summer. 

Tuscola’s band program has more than 140 students, and Ingle hopes to incorporate some of his students into the Folkmoot performances this year. 

That connection to the younger generations in Haywood County was another selling point that made Schwab excited about bringing Ingle on board as music director. One of her main goals since taking over as executive director has been to have more appeal to younger audiences to ensure Folkmoot’s future. 

“He is youthful himself and will be bringing along some of the students he works with at Tuscola,” Schwab said. “It will help us increase community engagement with the international guests we’ll have here.”

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