Conducting for Charleston
Luke Nosal, 21, initially set the French horn down to rest in the sixth grade. Now as a senior receiving a bachelor in music focusing in French horn performance, Nosal is inspired to bring visibility to those in the LGBTQA+ community through music and beyond.
Outside his curriculum, Nosal is using the degree as a stepping stone for both orchestral conducting and composing, with conducting being his ultimate focus.
“I’ve always loved conducting,” Nosal said. “I loved watching conductors and how they really are able to embody the music and even show the music before it comes out of the musicians physically.”
Nosal became “obsessed” with conducting in the eight grade. He would conduct a “really bad-ass” piece of music when he’d get upset. He was also the drum major of his high school marching band.
Over the past four years, both the Penn State wind and orchestral conducting faculty have given Nosal free, private lessons.
Even after conducting for the past few years, Nosal still gets nervous when steps out on stage.
“People that are sitting in orchestra that I conduct, they’ve been playing those instruments for 10 to 12 years and I’ve been conducting for four,” Nosal said. “It’s still nerve wracking.”
Nosal gets experience performing as his drag alter-ego, Laurel Charleston. Charleston has ten kids and hates them all.
Nosal said drag and conducting have more in common than what most would think.
“There’s always a story in music,” Nosal said. “There’s always an arch somewhere…and when I do drag it’s very similar in that I’m trying to convey a story.”
Nosal said he views drag as way to express the queer art within himself, which he is trying to combine with orchestral conducting, composing and performance. According to Nosal, there isn’t enough queer representation in orchestral music, and like his those that inspire him, he is trying to alter that.
“It’s not really focused at all on the queer narrative or the queer story or a queer experience,” Nosal said. “I’m really trying to change that.”
Nosal’s biggest goal in life is to use music to bring light to issues in the queer community, whether it’d be through conducting or composing.
“I really want to bridge that as much as possible,” Nosal said.