In the News

The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Announces the Newest Members of Its Artistic Leadership

November 17, 2015

The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps proudly introduces the newest members of our artistic leadership teams: Symphonic Band Assistant Conductors Fran Novak and Justin Stolarik, and Marching Band Assistant Drum Major Brian Luke. Candidates were given just a few weeks to prepare for auditions, when they would perform in front of the entire band. From the talented pool of candidates who auditioned for each role, with input from the band and final selection by our artistic directors, emerged our three new leaders.

Fran Novak

Fran Novak has played clarinet with the symphonic band since 2006, served as our concertmaster since 2007, and is a member of our Symphonic Music Advisory Committee. He also performs regularly with the Queer Urban Orchestra and Manhattan Symphonie Orchestra. Says Novak, “I am very honored and look forward to continuing to make music and inspire social change with the band!”

Justin Stolarik

Justin Stolarik is new to our organization after having served as Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Oklahoma. He currently performs as a percussionist with the Brooklyn Wind Symphony and the Manhattan Wind Ensemble, and recently served as a conductor at the Lesbian and Gay Band Association’s national conference in Indianapolis. Says Stolarik, “I’m honored and delighted to join the band as Assistant Conductor, and am extremely excited to make music with this fantastic ensemble!”

Symphonic Artistic Director Kelly Watkins shares her enthusiasm: “I’m overjoyed to welcome Fran and Justin to the podium. Both exhibited great acumen, technical skill, musicality, and leadership throughout a tough audition process. Their breadth of talent and desire to lead the ensemble to greater heights is obvious and I’m very much looking forward to our future together.” Shares our Board President, Joe Avena: “Over the last decade, the need for these positions has become more and more evident. What can be more exciting than conducting a 100-piece symphonic band? On behalf of the organization, we all look forward to sharing that excitement with Fran and Justin in the months to follow.”


Brian Luke has played flute and piccolo in both ensembles since 2012, and has also served as flute section leader in the symphonic band since 2014. Says Luke, “Drum majoring has been a dream of mine since high school. I can’t believe this is real! I am incredibly honored that I was chosen for this position and for the opportunity to lead our marching band alongside Artistic Director Marita Begley and Drum Major Michael Tolliver.” Says Begley, “Brian brings all the necessary qualities to the position of assistant drum major: musicality, enthusiasm, authority, conducting technique, and presence. I am thrilled to welcome him to our leadership team, and look forward to working together to lead our marching band to ever greater heights. It is also a wonderful thing to watch someone’s lifelong dream come true!” Says Avena, “The thrill of being in a marching band is perhaps unmatched in the music world. The role of assistant drum major carries a great responsibility over the direction of our huge band. I wish Brian good luck as we continue to generate love and pride through musical excellence.”

Grove’s 40th Invasion of the Pines: Celebratory, Controversial, Political, & Exhilarating!

July 4, 2015

“…We were heralded by the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band, which happily came in from New York City and played such current hits as ‘Fancy,’ ‘Bang Bang,’ and ‘[…]Get Lucky.'”

Read the full article online.

The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band Plays for Mayor de Blasio at City Hall Weddings

June 26, 2015

From The New York Times:

“…Shouting ‘Love wins!’ to the crowd, the mayor quoted from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the court’s majority opinion. The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band provided the score…”

Read the full article online.

Sensational LGBAC Concert Includes Icon Edie Windsor & Bway’s Randy Graff Appearances

April 14, 2015
From [q]

“The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps (LGBAC) Symphonic Band, guided by Artistic Director Kelly Watkins and Associate Conductor Nolan N. Dresden, offered a sensational, varied spring concert, at Symphony Space on April 11, billed as “New York State of Mind,” and the evening, hosted by Marriage Equality USA Executive Director Brian Silva, included three notable contemporary works, and exciting guest appearances by LGBT Icon Edie Windsor, recipient of LGBAC’s Profile in Leadership Award, and by Broadway’s Randy Graff.”

Read the full review online.

Marita Begley Honored with the Stonewall Community Foundation’s Vision Award

June 19, 2014


“Tonight’s signature fundraising event for the Stonewall Community Foundation honors fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, transgender advocate and author Janet Mock, the first out pro basketball player Jason Collins, Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band artistic director Marita Begley, and filmmaker Lee Daniels.”

Read more here.

Big Apple Corps’ “Coloring Outside the Lines” Shines Spotlight on GLBT American Composers

March, 2014
From [q]

“The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps (LGBAC), our community’s symphonic band, welcomed spring with a delightful concert, billed as “Coloring Outside the Lines,” at Peter Norton Symphony Space on March 28, principally under the baton of Artistic Director Kelly Watkins, and the focus was on works, familiar and rare, by GLBT American composers.”

Read the full review online.

Welcoming New Director Kelly Watkins, LGBAC Celebrates Yuletide — & Friday the 13th! — in Symphonic Band

December, 2013
From [q]

“The Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps (LGBAC), our community’s band, offered a most unusual holiday celebration, mid-December at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Symphony Space, hailing not only Yuletide, but also Friday the 13th. The concert marked the debut of LGBAC’s new Artistic Director, direct from the United States Coast Guard, Kelly Watkins. Sirius XM’s Keith Price served as the evening’s amusing host.”

Read the full review online.

Big Apple Corps Tackles the Great American Songbook in Spirited Concert

December, 2011
From [q]

“For the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps’ (LGBAC) fall concert, at Symphony Space on December 2, under the baton of Artistic Director Brian P. Worsdale, our community’s band gave its regards to Broadway, and acknowledged the holiday season as well, in a rousing concert called “The Great American Songbook.”

Read the full review online.