Welcome to my music blog. My name is Emily E Hogstad, I’m in my mid-twenties, I play violin and viola, and I live in the Twin Cities.
I’ve been a music nerd forever. My mom wrote in a journal when I was five months old: “Em also played piano for half an hour. When I tried to get her away, she cried… She also continues to scream…!!!” This pattern of loving music and then screaming about it has continued to the present day.
The subject matter at SOTL is eclectic. It ranges from forgotten Edwardian violin prodigies to historic orchestra concerts to Beethoven’s crotch, but my entries on orchestral labor disputes, invariably leavened by sarcasm and reaction GIFs, tend to be the most popular. My work has been cited by Kevin Case, Norman Lebrecht, and Alex Ross, among others, and I’ve also appeared on or in MinnPost, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesota Public Radio, National Public Radio, WQXR, Performance Today, and New Music Box. Also, I once was very excited about the Minnesota Orchestra going to Cuba, and I tweeted about how I was crying with pride for my hometown band…and then when I woke up the next morning, said Tweet had been quoted in The New York Times. Maybe it wasn’t a proper byline, or a formal quote, or even relevant to this paragraph, but it’s just too fricking awesome not to mention.
In August 2016 I traveled alongside the Minnesota Orchestra on their first post-lockout tour of Europe, writing a series of articles about the trip for the blog. To the best of my knowledge, I’m the first writer to ever crowdfund coverage of an American orchestra’s European tour. Like so many other people, I’m deeply distressed by the disappearance of professional culture writing. But I’m also passionate about figuring out how to harness new technology to create (and maybe even improve) coverage of classical music.
Music-wise, I played violin in the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony for four years, serving intermittently in principal roles. Since then I’ve performed with various ensembles, including the String Connection Orchestra and the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra. In 2006, I attended the Green Lake Festival of Music in Green Lake, Wisconsin, and worked with such nationally-renowned faculty and guest artists as the Amelia Piano Trio, Desiree Ruhstraht, and Samantha George. I started playing viola on a lark in 2012. I’ve studied both violin and viola with a couple of Minnesota Orchestra members. I am honored to play a beautiful violin made by Loual Riebel in 2004 in Cremona. My viola was born in a factory.
I’m also very proud to volunteer with Save Our Symphony Minnesota, a pioneering audience advocacy group that seeks to keep the community engaged in preserving our world-class Minnesota Orchestra.
My first love is the history of women in classical music. I’m especially interested in the lives of the great violin virtuosas of the Victorian era who have been all but forgotten today. Celebrating their careers is a personal crusade of mine.
This blog’s name is inspired by the 1915 novel The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. The book chronicles the journey of a small-town Midwestern girl of Scandinavian descent who aspires to fulfill her all-consuming passion for music. It’s also not coincidence that the name reminds any violin-lover of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s piece The Lark Ascending, which was inspired and premiered by my favorite historical violinist, Marie Hall.
The header image is a detail from Edmund Charles Tarbell’s 1890 painting “Girl with Violin.”