Artistic Direction

Pete Nowlen, Artistic Director of the Concert Band

Pete Nowlen celebrates his fifth season as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band’s Concert Band during the Band’s 2017-2018 season.

Appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band in August, 2013, Pete Nowlen is one of Northern California’s busiest musicians. Faculty at both Sacramento State and UC Davis, where he is Director of Concert Bands, Pete currently holds Artistic Director posts with Camerata California Chamber Choir, the Rancho Cordova Civic Light Orchestra and is Artistic Advisor of Music in the Mountains in Nevada County, California. He is the founder and driving force behind Sacramento’s VITA Academy, dedicated to revitalizing classical music through innovative community and audience engagement and school music programs. Other conducting credits includes the Sacramento, Auburn, Camellia, UCD and CSUS Symphonies and more than a dozen major productions ranging from La bohéme to the Rocky Horror Show. An honors graduate of Northwestern University with a masters degree from DePaul, Pete was a member of the French horn section of the Sacramento Symphony for 10 years. He has performed with the San Francisco Symphony, Opera, and Ballet Orchestras, served as co-principal hornist of the International Orchestra of Italy, and has been a prize winner and finalist in international solo competitions. Pete has conducted at the annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association. In August 2018, Pete was one of the Artistic Directors leading “Team Band” at Gay Games 10 held in Paris, France.

Michael J. Wong, Artistic Director of the Marching & Pep Bands

Michael J. Wong is the first Artistic Director of the Marching & Pep Bands for the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band (SFLGFB). A third generation San Franciscan, Mike joined the Band in 1998 while he was a teenager studying physics and music at U.C. Berkeley. He has literally grown up in the Band taking on the roles of Horn Section Manager, Music Librarian, Drum Major, and volunteer Marching Director and Assistant Conductor, before being appointed to the position of Artistic Director of the Marching & Pep Bands in 2016.

Mike harnesses an abundance of energy, passion, creativity, and musicianship to provide leadership for both the Marching & Pep Bands, shepherding our members through hundreds of parades, performances, and community events. He aims to continue developing the artistic repertoire, programming, and production to further build and sustain the Band’s visibility. When he was first hired as Artistic Director, Mike said: “One of the things I love about the Band is its intersection of all parts of the LGBT community that includes multi-generational members of all sexual orientations and gender identities. After marching in my first parade with the Band as a teenager, it’s a great honor to be hired as the Artistic Director of the Marching and Pep Program almost 18 years later.” As one of the most visible components of the SFLGFB, the Marching and Pep Bands are critical in fulfilling SFLGFB’s mission of increasing visibility for the LGBTQ+ community.

Mike has a colorful and diverse musical background. Not only does he play Horn in F, marching horn, and euphonium with the Band, he has also played with many Bay Area music ensembles, including the West County Winds, the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, the Foothill College Symphonic Band, Golden Gate Brazz, the Diablo Valley College Symphonic Band, the U.C. Berkeley Wind Ensemble, and the U.C. Berkeley Math Orchestra.