Through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall

Through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall

8 pm, Friday, May 31

678 Portola Drive, San Francisco

Free concert


Pete Nowlen strikes up the Band for this lively celebration of milestones in the LGBT Civil Rights Movement and those who have sacrificed in the pursuit of liberty and equality for all Americans. The concert features music and multi-media tributes to the repeal of DADT and the imminent demise of Prop 8, to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., to Susan B. Anthony and JFK.

Commander Zoe Dunning, USN (Ret.), delivers Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in a piece titled, A New Birth of Freedom. Dunning was one of the first to be prosecuted under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and after winning her discharge hearing, she courageously continued to serve as an open lesbian for another 13 years. Christopher J. Bakes, the attorney and former Navy JAG officer who pursued DADT in the courts all the way to the Supreme Court, conducts Anchors Aweigh.

The concert also features music by 20th Century Bay Area composer, Henry Cowell, and tells highlights of his fascinating life. Cowell is truly a hero of American music. After being lifted from incredible poverty and lack of education by the academic and musical communities of the Bay Area, Cowell became a world famous composer/performer and an ambassador of American Modern Music. He created organizations and publications that elevated many familiar American composers to prominence and taught musicians as diverse as Cage, Gershwin and Bacharach.

In 1936, Cowell’s career was interrupted when Cowell, who was bisexual, was arrested on a sodomy charge and sentenced to 15 years in San Quentin. Cowell continued his outstanding work in prison, where he taught music classes to thousands of prisoners and developed the “San Quentin Conservatory” to such a quality that after he was released the Department of War Information began broadcasting their concerts to the troops around the world.

Cowell went on to be an ambassador of America and American Music to the world. His ability to engage people and to understand and honor music of other cultures led him to be sent on missions around the world by the State Department, the Rockefeller Foundation and President Kennedy.

A reception follows the concert amidst the stunning photography of A Woman’s Eye Gallery (

Pete Nowlen, Guest Conductor / Artistic Director Candidate

Guest Conductor Pete Nowlen is a candidate for Artistic Director of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. He has been a member of the UC Davis faculty since 1988, and the CSU Sacramento faculty since 1990. He was a member of the French horn section of the Sacramento Symphony from 1987 to 1996, and is active as an orchestral and chamber musician and conductor.

Mr. Nowlen has been the Director of Concert Bands at U. C. Davis since 2002 and is Opera Musical Director at CSU Sacramento. He is artistic director of Sacramento’s VITA Academy, Camerata California (a chamber choir) and the Rancho Cordova Civic Light Orchestra.

Symphonic conducting credits include the Sacramento Symphony, UCD Symphony Orchestra, CSUS Symphony Orchestra, Camellia Symphony, Auburn Symphony and Music in the Mountains Orchestra. Opera, ballet and theater conducting credits include La Boheme, Hansel und Gretel, Magic Flute, Amahl, Orpheus in the Underworld, La Finta Gardiniere, Billy the Kid, L’Histoire du Soldat, Façade, Little Shop of Horrors, Falsettos, Company, Rocky Horror Show, Urinetown and Man of La Mancha.

Horn performance credits include the San Francisco Symphony, Opera and Ballet orchestras, Symphony Silicon Valley, Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, the Music in the Mountains Festival, and the International Orchestra of Italy. In 1992, Pete was the third prize winner of the International Competition for Solo Horn of the Castle of Duino, Italy, and in 1994 was a semi-finalist in the prestigious American Horn Competition.


Pete Nowlen, Guest Conductor/ Artistic Director Candidate


Zoe Dunning

Special Narration by Commander Zoe Dunning, USN (Ret.)