In the Christian tradition, the Advent season is a time of introspection and preparation. An outlook of radical, celebratory inclusivity is at hand, and Advent is our way of readying ourselves to embrace (or re-embrace) this thrilling new way of looking at the world.
In the SOTL tradition, the Advent season is a time to assemble Advent calendars, because that’s fun. I’ve prepared Advent calendars in some form since 2012. But in 2017 my Advent observations included creating a playlist of music by women composers. I did this mainly for myself, but the project proved to be really popular, so I’m doing it again this year. God only knows there’s no shortage of works to feature!
The more I think about it, the more fitting this focus on women composers at this time of year feels. So many of us are looking forward to welcoming a new way of looking at the musical world: one, in short, that values the previously shushed. That birth of perspective won’t magically happen on December 24. But maybe there are things that we can do in 2019 to push that birth along. Awareness and celebration are key.
So. You can go to songofthelarkadventcalendar.tumblr.com to see the calendar and enjoy all the works spotlit therein. A new entry and a new work will be posted every day from now until December 24. I hope you enjoy and find new beauty to dearly love!
I haven’t finalized the playlist yet, so if you want to suggest a work you love, Tweet at me!
I wish all music-lovers peace, magic, and beauty this holiday season. May 2019 bring you whatever encouragement and enlightenment you wish or want.
Longtime readers know I have a thing for Advent calendars. I’m not sure why. I like the ideas of winter introspecting and daily chocolate, I guess.
Anyway, the blog’s first Advent calendar was a weird lockout-related joke / year-end retrospective in December 2012. I also assembled virtual calendars in 2013, 2014, and 2015, featuring Youtube links to some of my favorite holiday pieces in all of them. I didn’t do one last year, and I missed doing it, so…
The online Advent calendar is back for 2017! But it’s at a new address and with a new twist. Instead of my favorite holiday music (because after four years of holiday music videos, I was really starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel), every day between now and Christmas Eve, I’m spotlighting a piece of music written by a woman! You can follow along at songofthelarkadventcalendar.tumblr.com. I’ll also be Tweeting the links; you can find me on Twitter here. I’ve already included pieces by Emilie Mayer, Rebecca Clarke, Lili Boulanger, and more, and there are still sixteen days left to go!
In many Christian traditions, Advent is a time of reflection, meant to prepare folks for the good that is to come. The good that I hope is to come (should we choose to reflect on it together…) is a promotion of the unjustly neglected work of women. The time feels right for their arrival in listeners’, musicians’, and music lovers’ lives.
Wishing you all a blessed winter full of unexpected beauty.
Also, just a head’s up, I’m taking December off from my blog series on women. Readership tends to dip at this time of year anyway, and, to be totally honest, after the extravaganza of original research that occurred for the last entry, I fell behind on some other projects I want to get a handle on! So expect new entries on women starting January 3rd (I’m pretty sure we’re going to kick things off with a woman who was, along with Schoen-René, a student of Viardot), and hopefully this calendar helps tide you over in the meantime. xo
Welcome to the 2015 Song of the Lark Advent calendar! Every day until Christmas Eve, a new entry will go live at www.sotladventcalendar.tumblr.com. Each includes a 2015 blog memory, as well as a piece of holiday music. (You can also go back in time and read blog highlights and hear musical selections from previous years’ calendars. Navigate through the archives by using the arrows on the left side of the calendar.)
This season’s calendar was therapeutic to assemble… The illness and death of my mother made 2015 the worst year of my life, by far. (2015, may the door hit your ass on the way out. Hard.) I apologize again for not writing more the last few months. But my mind has been cloudy.
The other day I read through a big chunk of the SOTL archives. Some pieces I still like; some are more meh; but I was proud to see that I’ve never insulted a topic by not caring about it. Better days are coming, both in my personal life and on the blog. I think my capacity for caring is slowly returning, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the new life that awaits in 2016.
Which is fitting, I guess. After all, the idea of Advent is about looking inward, taking stock, and preparing for the arrival of new life: a New Year, and a new start.
Cheers. *raises champagne glass*
If holiday music is your thing, I hope you check out the link above every day. I’ll put up another post around New Year’s in case you want to browse the whole thing at once. And please feel free to share the names of your favorite winter / holiday pieces in the comment section! 2016 will be here before we know it, and after four years of calendars (can you believe it??), I’m reaching the outer edges of my winter-related repertoire, haha.
Happy holidays, merry Christmas, and/or a blessed New Year’s to you and yours! Thank you for giving me the greatest gift of all…your readership. It sounds hokey, but I mean it with every inch of my heart.
The blog has a long and proud tradition (and by “long and proud tradition,” I mean “a tradition that began on Tumblr in December 2012”) of Advent-calendar-making.
So I threw another together this year, just because it’s fun. Every day from now until December 24, a new entry will be posted at the calendar. This year features a variety of my favorite wintry musical selections (some of which were chosen by readers!), as well as various memories from the past year. A new entry goes up every morning at 6AM. I hope you enjoy the pieces and maybe find a performance or two that is new to you. So be sure to bookmark the calendar and keep coming back throughout December: sotladventcalendar.tumblr.com.
My attempt to make the most annoying holiday SOTL Blingee ever. Animated Christmas cats, guys! AWW!
And since I’m using the same Tumblr account that I used last year, you can even scroll back to read 2013’s calendar. Can you CONTAIN your EXCITEMENT?
Also one more tip: the Minnesota Orchestra has a Cyber Monday sale going, and most 2015 tickets are 50% off, so you might want to check that out. Even if you have all the seats you need for this season, tickets are a great gift idea.
If the thought of the holidays or holiday music makes you want to strangle kittens, stay tuned, because there’s a lot more non-holiday content coming. I actually think this December might be my content-heaviest month of 2o14… Right now I’m sitting on a whole clutch of rough drafts.
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?
This entire Advent calendar project may strike you as being ridiculous, and I agree, it was pretty ridiculous. However, I submit that it is not as ridiculous as attempting to decimate one of the great orchestras of the world without once giving a single in-depth interview about your intentions.
And no, in case you’re wondering, of course, I never got any acknowledgment of receipt, much less any answers. Not from Michael Henson, not from Jon Campbell, and not from Richard Davis.
I was asked by Mr. Norman Lebrecht over at the Slipped Disc blog to contribute a summary of the Minnesota situation. Here ’tis. As I say in the article, I welcome any clarification from the MOA. (Heck, even an acknowledgement of my existence would be nice… *waves* I know you know I’m here, MOA! It’s getting awkward never hearing from you! Trust me, there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of! I’m only 90 pounds, and I’m disabled, to boot! So come on over and pull up a chair!) Anyway. The lesson I took away from writing the Lebrecht entry? It’s much more difficult to write something in 850 words than it is in 3000!
I also have an answer to a question I’ve been hearing a lot of lately: when is the MOA’s annual meeting? And that question is invariably followed up by, can we protest at it?
According to the Star Tribune, the annual meeting of the Minnesota Orchestral Association will take place on Thursday December 6. We don’t know when in the day or where, so unless information is leaked and publicized in time, sadly we cannot protest at it. (I’m guessing that the MOA is keeping the time and location under pretty tight wraps. I can’t imagine they’re very keen on the idea of a public demonstration outside their annual meeting.) We have no idea what will happen there. (Some tough questions for Mr. Henson, such as, why did you lie to the state legislature? Discussion of canceling more concerts? Discussion of hiring replacement musicians? A full vote of confidence in MOA leadership from the board? Musician bashing? Union bashing? Musicians’ union bashing? The mind boggles at the possibilities!) In years past, Graydon Royce has reported on the meeting, so keep an eye out on the Strib’s website for that.
To be a fly on the wall there. There would be so much material for this blog, I’d be busy until Christmas. Oh, well. I’ll have to make due with all the material that is public, and to be fair, there is a lot of material that is public. I’m working on a couple of essays at the moment, examining management’s latest Strib editorial and Doug Kelley’s string of non sequiturs on Almanac. And I know Mary is working on another installment of her financials series. And I know of at least a couple other people who are digging around in tax forms and Internet archives and the like. And I imagine Graydon Royce is researching stuff, as well. So take heart; this story isn’t over yet, by any stretch of the imagination. Despite any discouragement you may have, keep your chin up, and stay tuned. We’ve only just begun to fight.
Hope you’re having as enjoyable a holiday season as possible, given the circumstances. Have you checked out the Song of the Lark Advent Calendar? If you haven’t, you should! We’re – er, I’m – still accepting submissions for memories / encouragement for all those affected by the lockout(s), to be sent to songofthelarkchristmasproject [at] gmail.com. I’d really appreciate hearing from you! And if you want to send out some polite letters of protest along with your Christmas cards this year, I have just the entry to help you do just that.
You can get all the sparkly details there. Watch me! In a jerky Youtube video! Adorned in a silky red shirt and a glittery garland! Yammering into a webcam for twelve whole minutes! While giving dramatic readings of three of the Christmas cards I sent this year! And showing off my holiday crafting project! And explaining for the unenlightened what an Advent calendar is, and how generally awesome they are! (There also may or may not be some Alex Ross fangirling.) (Spoiler alert: there’s Alex Ross fangirling.)
As the MOA is fond of saying, we all have a part to play! Jon Campbell, Richard Davis, Michael Henson, every reader of this blog. Let’s all come together in this celebration of the holiday spirit. Bookmark the calendar. Follow michaelhensonsadventcalendar on Tumblr. Check back daily. Answer my questions. It’s a veritable cornucopia of accountability! Yay!
If you have a memory or encouragement to share, you can email me it at songofthelarkchristmasproject [at] gmail.com. We still need more.