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.
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.
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.”