Welcome to my music blog. My name is Emily E Hogstad, I’m in my early twenties, I play violin and viola, and I currently live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
I’ve been a music nerd my whole life; recently my mother uncovered a draft of a letter she wrote to my kindergarten teacher claiming one of my academic strengths was my “ability to identify Mozart.” I’ve been geeking out ever since. I started playing piano at five, violin at nine, and viola at twenty-two. I played violin in the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony for four years during high school, serving intermittently in principal roles. In the summer of 2010 I was concertmaster of the String Connection Orchestra in Eau Claire; in November and December 2011 I soloed with that group. I’ve played violin in the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, and in 2012 I won a viola seat in the Chippewa Valley Symphony (although poor health has sadly prevented me from yet performing with that ensemble). 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’ve also taken intermittent lessons from a couple members of the Minnesota Orchestra. I am honored to play a beautiful instrument made by Loual Riebel in 2004 in Cremona.
Aside from studying music and music history, I love to write. I’ve received national recognition for both my fiction and non-fiction, and my essays on music have been praised by such diverse figures as cutting-edge composers to nationally renowned string quartets to Grammy-winning violinists. I’m currently at work on my first novel, which surprisingly has absolutely nothing to do with music.
In August 2012, I started blogging about the conflicts that eventually turned into the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra lockouts (I eventually focused all my attention on the latter). You can read all my work here. It’s a long story, but here’s a short version: the managements at both orchestras started jerking around their musicians and their public and that made me unspeakably angry. I started writing, and people started reading; I went from having a dozen page views a day to hundreds. Suddenly I was being asked to guest blog for Norman Lebrecht, appearing on the front page of the Pioneer Press, interviewed by MPR, and cited by Alex Ross of the New Yorker. I have issued countless invitations for the management at the Minnesota Orchestral Association to respond to my questions and charges. They know I’m out here; they just like to pretend otherwise.
Once the lockouts are over, I anticipate on going back to studying my first love: the history of women in classical music. I’m especially interested in the lives of the great female violin virtuosas of the Victorian era who have sadly been all but forgotten today. Documenting and celebrating their lives and careers has become a personal crusade of mine.
I’m hoping to eventually get a degree in music history or musicology. My ultimate goal is to make a living writing about and studying music. We’ll see how that turns out.
This blog’s name is inspired by the 1915 novel The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, which 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 English violinist Marie Hall.
The header image is a detail from Edmund Charles Tarbell’s 1890 painting “Girl with Violin.”