Category Archives: Blog Stuff

2013 Advent Calendar

As long-time readers of the blog know, I have a weakness for Advent calendars, even when they don’t include chocolate. (Although…chocolate is good.)

chocolate… nom nom nom

So here’s the second annual virtual SOTL Advent calendar, sans chocolate. After the introductory entry of December first, each day will feature a Youtube video having to do with Christmas or winter music, along with a favorite memory of 2013. (Perhaps astonishingly, given the circumstances, I have a lot of favorite memories.) Yes, it’s a weird tradition – I don’t think any other classical music blogs do this? – but I get a kick out of assembling it, and I like to spread the joy of Advent calendars, so…

Entries are queued to post at 12am every morning. So enjoy, and warm holiday wishes to you and yours.

If you’re not sure what to buy for yourself or your family members this holiday season, you should really consider purchasing tickets to see the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians in-concert later this month in their Tchaikovsky extravaganza. Because everybody loves the Nutcracker, am I right?


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Introducing Lark Notes!

Once upon a time, in the halcyon days before September 2012, I thought of myself more as a historian and wannabe musicologist than as a commentator on never-ending orchestral lockouts.

Crazy, right?

Well, it’s been a year, but my heart’s still in the whole history thing. I’ve ignored it and I’ve missed it. I’m not giving up analysis of orchestral politics – by any means – but I do want to try to shoehorn some history onto the blog.

Consequently I’m embarking on a new series…


So what are Lark Notes? Great question. I’m not even 100% sure yet. (Let’s hear it for flying by the seat of your pants!! Woohoo!) I do know that the Notes will be my exploration of a particular musical topic, and that exploration might come in the form of essays, Youtube videos, interviews…who knows! We’ll have to see how the Notes evolve as time goes by. For the foreseeable future, they’ll likely tie into the programs of the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra.

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Blast from the Past

I started this blog on May 13, 2011, so…happy second birthday, blog.

Back in a time when I was lucky to get five views a day, I wrote an essay that I hoped would be a sort of thesis statement for everything that would follow. Since many of you are interested in hearing a bit about why or how I was drawn to blogging, I thought I’d share the link. Given everything that’s transpired since, it’s a bit disorienting – in a good way, I think – maybe – to read again.

Indulgent Claptrap: or, how this blog came to be

I wish I could tell my self of two years ago how many lovely, lovely people I’d meet over the course of this project. Then again, I know I wouldn’t believe it.

I hope to spend many more years in y’all’s company. Thank you for being so generous with your attention and your love. If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.


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Tickets to the Sibelius Concert…and a SOTL Reception

Do you want to go to the Minnesota Orchestra Sibelius show? Tickets are going on sale at Monday January 14 at noon Central Standard Time in the Year of Our Lord 2013. Details here. Even if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to go, buy them and turn them back in. Because this thing is going to sell out fast. I’ll go out on a limb and say this will be the single most historic concert the Minnesota Orchestra has ever put on. I honestly don’t think that’s hyperbole. So be there.


I’m attempting to throw together some kind of informal reception for my darling readers in downtown Minneapolis before the concert.

If you think you would come, either

  1. comment on this blog entry
  2. email me at songofthelarkblog [at] gmail [dot] com, or
  3. like the SOTL Facebook page and then like this status update about a reception.

I need to know approximately how many I might be planning for. Details TBA. Nothing formal – just a drop in, drop out kind of thing. Maybe with drinks or dessert.

I’m also trying to cook up some kind of popcorn-based fundraising event. So there’s that.


Mr. Michael Henson is, of course, warmly invited to our fabulous Song of the Lark soiree! Even if he does not come, I am planning to print out a picture of him and tape it on a conspicuously empty chair, so that all of us can remember the reason we’ve been brought together.

Thanks, Mr. Henson!


Filed under Blog Stuff, Labor Disputes, Minnesota Orchestra

Popcorn’s Surprising Health Benefits

A reader has passed some important health news along:

Popcorn is good for us.

Here’s an article entitled “Popcorn’s Surprising Health Benefits” from –

Popcorn has received a bucketful of bad press in recent years—movie popcorn in particular—but a new study confirms that popcorn has some surprisingly good nutritional qualities…

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More proof that the MOA knows who I am…

The MPR article – in which I and my blog got more space than Michael Henson – is now listed in Industry News.


Um. Why is management even obliquely promoting this blog? Is this a sign that the Industry News page is starting to post others’ viewpoints? What’s next? A link to SOTL? Is this a shift in strategy, or just a dumb mistake?

I don’t get this, at all, but I guess it wouldn’t be the first time I don’t get the logic behind the MOA’s PR tactics. So, um, thanks for the shout-out, MOA. If you want to…you know…actually contact me…………feel free. I’ve got a shiny Facebook page now through which you can do that.

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Happy New Year

My favorite performance from the Song of the Lark Advent calendar. Ella Fitzgerald in “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

2012 is over!

Thank crap!


I have some housekeeping stuff…

2012 STATS!

Every blogger worth his salt is writing something about his 2012 stats today. So I will, too, but with a twist… Following the example of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, I will release a number to you, completely out of context, which has been independently audited, by WordPress:

Traffic at Song of the Lark has increased by roughly 1600% from last year.

Here’s what this statistic looks like on a satirical graph I made to advance my pre-ordained narrative that this blog is doing fabulously.

Graphs are fun

Seriously, though. Traffic did increase by 1600%, and my readership has grown beyond my wildest dreams. There are a lot of people reading this blog. Want to know how many? Drew McManus is currently running a poll, asking readers to guess about various statistics about Adaptistration. Under the question “Which culture blog referred the most traffic to Adaptistration in 2012?” Song of the Lark is one of the options (along with Slipped Disc). I won’t tell you if it’s the right answer, just in case you want to take the quiz yourself, but the fact that Drew even considered using SOTL as an option… Craziness! Craziness, all of it.

So anyway, thank you thank you thank you, all! And how about a special shout-out to Michael Henson? He’s a huge reason why this blog is so popular!

In the continuing vein of British GIFs…



In case you want to take a trek down memory lane… (Entries are listed in reverse order for optimal countdown excitement.)

5) Great Female Violinists: A List. Proof that before the Orchestral Apocalypse, I mainly wrote about Victorian violinists. If you’re remotely interested in the history of music, and you’re a reader who came aboard after August (and most of you are), you should check out this page. I’ve written about some really amazing inspirational women who are very unjustly neglected.

4) A Layman’s Guide to the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout. What the title says. As an update, yesterday I wrote and posted a sequel: A Layman’s Guide to the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout, Part 2.

3) Violinist Jill Olson Moser Writes About Minnesota Orchestra Subs. Proof that my readers like it when I shut up once in a while and bring aboard amazing guest writers. A big thank you not just to Jill, but to all of my 2012 guest bloggers. You brought perspectives I don’t have, and I’m so thankful.

2) Is Minnesota Orchestra management lying to us? Ah, yes, the good old days before we knew they were…

And of course…

1) The Key And the Lockout: Minnesota Orchestra Musicians In-Concert, Oct. 18. Well, of course. This is the essay that led to the great Alex Ross Recognition of 2012.

Possibly the best tweet of all time.



I’ve had one for a while but I only revved it up yesterday. Here it is. You can also like it by checking out the link on the right-most column of the blog. There you can connect with other readers, share stuff, and message me privately. It’ll be interesting to see how the page evolves. Just a quick reminder to be respectful to everyone. Remember that important people are reading what you write.

Once the lockouts are over, and I go back to blogging about historical female violinists nobody has ever heard of, you have my permission to un-like me. ;)


Feel free to talk in the comments about what you want to see in the blog in the new year…ideas for mobilization…what exactly you want to see state representatives do in the new year… Anything, really.

Thanks for being my readers. You’re the best. xoxo

– Emily



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SOTL Glossary

The conflict between the Minnesota Orchestral Association and its musicians is obviously a hugely complicated one. Consequently, it’s full of lots of names, specialty terms unfamiliar to lay audiences, and even the occasional in-joke (popcorn?). So if you’re ever confused about a name or a term or an in-joke, let me know, and I’ll add it to the SOTL Glossary.

Bold phrases indicate names or terms that are explained elsewhere in the glossary.


990s. Forms the Minnesota Orchestral Association (or MOA) has to file with the IRS. More information about 990s here. Thanks to Drew McManus, we have the MOA 990s from FY 1998, 2000-6, and 2009-2010. The 2011 990 is available on the website Guidestar. I’m still waiting on a copy of the 2012 990.

Advent calendar. I sent an Advent calendar of questions to Michael Henson in December of 2012. He didn’t acknowledge it. (I also sent Christmas cards to Jon Campbell and Richard Davis; I never heard back from them, either.) You can read about my foray into Advent-calendar-based-activism here.


One side of Michael Henson’s homemade Advent calendar

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What Can One Person Do?

Seeing the Locked Out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra in Beethoven 9 was a hugely emotional experience, and I really need some time to process it before I write a single word on the subject. Needless to say, the musicians were fabulous…and so was the audience, if I may say so myself!

Sooooooooo, while I’m busy processing… Here’s an utterly fabulous piece to prove that last point. Here’s SOTL reader Rolf Erdahl, discussing both his protest at the Minneapolis Club at the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s annual meeting on December 6, and, even more importantly, what you can do. Don’t feel helpless. You have a part to play. I promise!


You know those cartoons about the crazy guy dressed is sackcloth and ashes carrying the sign “The End is Near”?

On Thursday, Dec. 6, I was that guy standing outside the Minneapolis Club where the Minnesota Orchestra Board was holding their annual meeting.


The crazy guy

The only difference was I was wearing white tie and tails, and my sign was a posterboard with the shape of a cello cut out from the top, and a message that read, “SOMETHING’S MISSING!!! BRING BACK OUR MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA”

I’ll now describe the reasons behind my actions and tell you how the day went. If you want to save time, skip to the important part of this message at the bottom for some suggested answers to the question “What can one person do?”

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