Welcome to my music blog! My name is Emily E Hogstad, I’m in my early thirties, I’m a freelance arts writer, I play both violin and viola for some reason, and I live in the Twin Cities metro.

use this

Me enthusiastically overdressing for a Minnesota Orchestra season opening concert and posing in front of the Mississippi River

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, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, 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.

Beyond the blog, I’ve written regularly for Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s website since early 2018, and have also provided program notes for the Lakes Area Music Festival and (starting with the 18/19 season) the Minnesota Orchestra. I’ve also appeared as pre-concert-talker with the Hill House Chamber Players, the Musical Offering, and the Lakes Area Music Festival.

My first love is the history of women in classical music. I write about an underappreciated woman from music history. This has been one of the most rewarding projects of my writing life so far.

I’m very proud to have volunteered with Save Our Symphony Minnesota, a pioneering audience advocacy group that sought to keep the community engaged in preserving our world-class Minnesota Orchestra. I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of audience advocacy, and I’m always up for a conversation about it. I believe very strongly that orchestral labor disputes should never consist solely of conversations between management and musicians; patrons deserve a say in charting an organization’s course, too.

On a related note, 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.

Music-wise, I played violin in the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony for four years, serving intermittently in principal roles. Since then I’ve performed on both violin and viola with various ensembles, including the String Connection Orchestra, the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, and the Chippewa Valley Symphony. 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’m honored to play a beautiful violin made by Loual Riebel in 2004 in Cremona. My viola was born in a factory.

If you want to get in touch, follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. And of course the comment section is (usually) open!


This blog’s name is inspired by the 1915 novel The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. The book chronicles the journey of Thea Kronberg, a small-town Midwestern girl of Scandinavian descent who aspires to fulfill her all-consuming passion for music. The fictional Thea was based on larger-than-life queer icon Olive Fremstad, who spent part of her childhood in the Twin Cities, and was one of the first soloists to appear with the Minneapolis Symphony. It’s also no coincidence that the blog’s 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.”

56 responses to “About

  1. What an inspiring piece about Stefi Geyer, Emily. Thank you. Who else will you do?
    I write mostly on singers of that era. Here is Nellie Melba recorded live at Covent Garden in 1926. It was her Farewell and she was 65. She had learned Mimi directly with Puccini and had occupied the role for nearly three decades: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEhr_3E3XEA

    • mai

      Hi Emily, I want to talk to you! I recorded a Teresa Milanollo piece a couple of years ago… please be in touch! Mai

  2. Hi Roger, Thanks for your kind words.

    Next up is an examination of Vivien Chartres and her relationship with her mother, Annie Vivanti. I am also interested in Teresina Tua and Leonora von Stosch (Lady Speyer)…not to mention the d’Aranyi sisters…Camilla Urso, more on Wilma Neruda…there are so many complex, fascinating women to choose from. I have compiled a list of about 300 professional female violinists who were active before 1930, and I know I will find many more. There is an embarrassment of riches.

    I know so very little about opera, so finding a link to your blog and to a recording of Melba was much appreciated. It is my impression that female vocalists began to pave the way for female instrumentalists, especially in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Do you know anything about Olive Fremstad? Willa Cather’s novel Song of the Lark, which was very loosely based on her life, was obviously the inspiration for the name of this blog.

    Thank you for your comment, and I hope you keep reading.

  3. gabdon

    hi emily,
    thanks for writing about stefi geyer.she really has a really sweet and expressive sound and you can really see her innocent charm through her pictures and playing. is that all the recordings you could find?

    • You’re very welcome! There is a disc of her recordings called L’Art de Stefi Geyer. You can find it here. It is a little on the steep side price-wise, but it is worth it if you like her playing. Thanks for your feedback!

  4. Hello, Emily: I find your entry here of true value. I am a semi-retired concert violinist and recording artist (male) and over the years have championed many causes, e.g., the female artist. Just thought I’d drop you a line to express my sincere empathy with you. I am Wisconsin person (Kenosha County, currently living in Evanston, IL) and was raised in a staunchly male environment. However, I do “see” things from both the male/female perspective. Fortunately, I have survived quite nicely! I don’t write long letters so, suffice it to ask you to kindly refer to my personal web site, http://www.skowronskiplays.com, and perhaps visit Facebook and Google. Maybe one day you might consider meeting and playing for me? Please feel free to contact me if you wish. With best regards, I am, Sincerely, –vps/S:CR–

  5. Alison Fujito

    Emily, I am absolutely blown away by your blog.

    For starters, I love the way you write–it’s the way I WISH I could write.

    Your recent coverage of the negotiations in Minnesota is phenomenal. You ferret out ALL the facts, getting directly to the relevant points, and you refuse to allow the usual smoke and mirrors to distract you from those facts.

    I can think of some well-known journalists on major news networks who could learn a thing or two from you.

  6. Emily,
    Have you taken a look at Daisy Kennedy and/or Nora Clench yet?

  7. Katie Spencer

    Hi Emily!

    My name is Katie and I am a student at Macalester, and I am currently writing a news article about the free SPCO concert that will be on campus next Tuesday. I am contacting you for two reasons. 1) I wanted your permission to use your “Orchestral Apocalypse ‘012” phrase in my article, and 2) I would love a few quotes from you if you have the time. Let me know as soon as you can!


    P.S. Love the blog! It is full of great information!

  8. Sarah S

    I just read your post about the Minnesota Orchestra — it’s going viral on Facebook in the music community (I’m a professional violinist myself and have several old friends in the ensemble). Emily, you are one hell of a writer. Brava!

  9. I second that motion. You need to be on the board of the Minnesota Orchestra, although I wouldn’t wish that on to anyone at this time.
    Hi Emily,
    My name is Elizabeth Erickson. I’m a musician and private piano teacher in Minneapolis and a long time supporter of the Minnesota Orchestra. You have inspired me and set me on fire to fight for the orchestra. Thank you.
    I’m working on a piece I hope to send to the Strib or elsewhere. I’d love to send you a copy when I’m finished.
    Can’t wait to read your book. I already know it will be good

    • “set me on fire to fight for the orchestra”… That’s a tremendously gratifying phrase. Thanks for your comment.

      I’d be delighted to read your piece! The more voices we can gather, the better. No idea if we’ll win this war or not – but I know we’ll lose it for sure if patrons don’t push back.

      And yes, I don’t know if I’d want to be on the board right now, but I would love it if a blogger was on the board of the Minnesota Orchestra. Someone who is committed to free and open exchange of ideas, no matter how messy that exchange grows. Someone who is accessible. Someone who is a gifted communicator. Someone who is engaged night and day with their organization. Someone who doesn’t hide behind their wealth and their power. Someone who is humble, and who isn’t afraid of submitting to a good public lashing if they’re proven wrong. That’s the kind of individual I pray finds their way onto the Minnesota Orchestra board…and into Michael Henson’s seat, when it is inevitably emptied, whether in ten days, ten weeks, ten months, or ten years.

  10. Sarah

    Ms. Lark (AKA Emily), have you considered pursuing a career in arts administration? Given the absolute implosion that’s going on here in the Twin Cities, it’s quite clear that the Mitt Romney style of management isn’t that good a fit for the nonprofit arts model. Both the U of M and UW-Madison have various programs.

    Will you be attending the upcoming MN Orch musicians concert at Ted Mann Hall? And the SPCO will have another concert later in December (after the 12/2 one in Wayzata) so stay tuned!!

    • You’re very kind. I can’t imagine being in arts administration except maybe as a board member, someday. There’s no way I could work day in and day out in this kind of stressful environment. I’ll be a much better historian and/or musicologist. I work much better with dead people than living ones, to be blunt about it.

      I do plan to attend the Minnesota Orchestra concert on Sunday the 16th, I plan to write about it afterward. Won’t be able to make it to the SPCO one; living two hours away, it’s a bit of a trek for me.

  11. Sarah

    I entirely understand – I would have a problem as well with being nice to board members most of the time. But I AM curious as to the major donor and her objections . . . any hints? Maybe I will have to figure it out for myself.

    And, you’ve also been linked to on Slipped Disc if you didn’t already know. You are certainly opening some eyes!! Kudos for speaking truth to power, even if they don’t wanna listen. Wish I’d learned that at your age, but it’s never too late.

    I’ll let you know how the 12/2 SPCO concert goes, and I’ll be at the 12/16 MN Orch one as well.

  12. Erica Moretti

    Dear Emily Hogstad, I am professor at MHC and I am working on Annie Chartres Vivanti. I would like to talk to you privately about a project in putting together. Could I contact you via email?

    Erica Moretti

  13. Emily,

    I feel I may have overstepped other blogger’s blogging–such as my rather long winded piece on taxes and charitable giving. In reading it a day later, it seems like good content, but off topic in the context of the guest bloggers piece on “what can one person do.”

    The problem is I’m just not sure of the protocol for contributing more than a paragraph or so to a blog. Is it by invitation, or any place we can find to give voice, or someplace in between?

    Please let me know, either as a reply to this entry, or by email. I wish to be heard and to be effective, but not inappropriate.

    SOTL is a great blog, and I appreciate it very much.

    • Anyone is welcome – indeed, encouraged – to comment here however they want, whenever they want, just as long as it’s respectful. Which you are, so no worries. :) As for who guest-blogs, so far I’ve only had three (Mary, Rolf, and Jill), so there hasn’t really been enough instances for any kind of protocol to form yet…

      In a perfect world where I had unlimited time and energy, it would be fantastic to include a discussion board, but alas, I do not live in that world, so the comment section is the best I can do. Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll start one, but right now feel free to say whatever you want in the comments, and feel free to go as far off topic as you want. The Internet is big and messy and free, and I think it’s good to take advantage of that to spread any and all ideas we may have.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  14. Sheri Nordmeyer

    Hi Emily, I noticed you on an article about the MOA posted by a friend on facebook. Your last name caught my eye. My great grandparents were Hogstads. I recall my father talking about a fire in my great grandparents house were he had a violin collection that was destroyed by the fire. After reading of your interests it seems like a strange coincidence. Best wishes.
    Sheri Nordmeyet

  15. Sasha Anawalt

    Hi, Emily:
    Your writing and thinking are terrific. Can you get in touch with me? I direct arts journalism programs at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles, and would like to know more about you. Consider applying to this fellowship: http://annenberg.usc.edu/GettyArtsJourn.aspx

    Sasha Anawalt

  16. Sheri Nordmeyer

    Hi Emily, I noticed you on an article about the MOA posted by a friend on facebook. Your last name caught my eye. My great grandparents were Hogstads. I recall my father talking about a fire in my great grandparents house were he had a violin collection that was destroyed by the fire. After reading of your interests it seems like a strange coincidence. Best wishes.
    Sheri Nordmeyet

  17. Hey, I think your
    blog might be having browser compatibility issues. When I
    look at your
    blog in Safari, it looks fine but when
    opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick
    heads up! Other then that, amazing blog!

  18. Ray

    To view some rare pictures of 19th century women musicians and singers, go to:

    Anna Regan (1841-1902)

    Kind regards,
    Ray & Marie.

  19. Greetings from Brainerd … I just started reading your words about the MN orch…. GOOD FOR YOU>… gotta rattle the brains of the corporate honchos who have so little idea of what they have in our artistic world…. keep it up ….

    as a sidelight…. we have quite the festival going on up here in Brainerd. The Lakes Area Music Festival is in its fifth year, presenting concerts of all kinds of classical music, performed by musicians from all over the country … including members of the Minn. Orch …. Jonathan Magness comes to mind at this time of the morning….) The festival has been a real boon to the town — I don’t want to go on and on about the festival, so you can read at your leisure at http://www.lakesareamusic.org. … and in a blatant attempt at self promotion, would you consider adding the Lakes Area Music Festival to the list you have on your blog? That would be great…..

    And if you have a chance, come on up for one of the concerts …. Every Sunday at 3 and Wednesday at 7 until August 18th ….

    Let’s keep the MN ORCH in the front somehow…. again, thanks for your work….


    • I LOVE this festival (although I haven’t been there yet)! I’m friends with Scott and I actually wrote the program notes for two concerts this season!! :D Super proud of that!

      Thanks for the kind words!

      • Excellent! Glad to hear you know of the efforts up here … Scott has really started something up here … my wife Sue is the Exec. Director, so I get a good dose of the inner workings of the festival — two concerts down, four more to go ….. keep writing….

      • Just had lunch w/ Scott today … He and I sure hope you can make it up for one of our concerts …. Wednesday’s concert is a set of pieces from the first four years of the festival, and the Sunday following is some woodwind ensemble pieces. Then on the 14th is La Cerentola ..fully staged all all … and then a big finale concert on the 18th of Beethoven’s fifth and a few other good things….Its neat that we connected this way.. .hooray for WordPress….

  20. Hilary

    Emily, Do you have your ear to the ground for the Symphony Ball? It is the major fundraising gala and scheduled for September 20. I wonder how this year’s gala at the new hall will play out, as it were.

  21. Great thoughts and ideas! As a former UW-Eau Claire faculty member (professor of music composition) I wish I could have had you come in and talk to our students! Our new music program really began to take off when I started shifting much of the leadership to the students. Nobody could fill seats or inspire more participation than my students.

  22. Christopher Brewster

    I’m using this box even though this isn’t a comment. I clicked to subscribe to SOTL and was taken to a page that was for people who want to write their own blog, which I don’t. It said my email address is unacceptable, which it isn’t.Maybe you could sign me up. (And you might want to delete this message.)

  23. Bravo for your exposé on Romanstein and the Atlanta lockout.

  24. Clara


    I love your fiery blog and appreciate your research. In your recent research on the Atlanta Symphony lockout, could you tell me if the Woodruff Arts Center owns its facilities or if the city owns the land that the WAC is built on? I was trying to find out, but haven’t been successful. Just thinking about the MN Orch lockout, you probably know what I am thinking.

    Thank you,

  25. Hi Emily

    I only recently came accross your SOTL blog – wish it had been sooner. You are a very talented comic writer – something that is hard.

    I loved the pieces on Mozart in the Jungle and the Atlanta Smymphony brochure. This led me to over-view my local orchestra’s brochure for 2015 (Sydney Symphony): I didn’t go through line-by-line but it seems well done and not à la the AS. You can check it out on-line if interested:

    I look forward to your future writing and hope you can make it to Sydney sometime (29° at the moment, or 84° in US measurement).

  26. Fellow Music Nerd! I just heard about you on Minnesota Public Radio at 6:40 am EDT. I’m ear-training with the radio (Streema.com, actually). Just look at my profile photo!

  27. Emily, You absolutely rock it.

  28. Emily, you absolutely Rock!

  29. David Whiteside

    Thanks for your piece on the Hartford Symphony debacle. Please add me to your email list. Thanks

  30. Ken

    Emily, I really was hoping to talk to you offline. Is that possible? Thank you.


Leave a Reply to Erica Moretti Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s