Classical Music to Welcome Spring

Happy Spring!

At 4:58 local time, spring will officially be underway.  This is particularly good news for those of us in Minnesota—we are just coming off record-breaking snowfalls that have made the past couple of months miserable.

I wanted to celebrate the new season with a classical playlist of spring-themed music. It’s a diverse collection that captures the many moods of spring… enjoy! Continue reading

Classical Playlist for St. Patrick’s Day

We’re fast approaching St. Patrick’s Day—a time when everyone celebrates their Irish heritage, whether they’re Irish or not.

Ireland is justly famous for its music, and in the spirit of this festive holiday I thought I’d share a playlist of classical works with a tie to the Emerald Isle.  So, grab a pint of green beer (or better yet, some fine Irish whiskey) and enjoy! Continue reading

Lady Six Monkey: The Great Warrior Queen of the Mixtecs

Far too often, the stories of great women—or perhaps more accurately, great writers, politicians, scientists, and leaders who simply happen to be women—have been lost, forgotten, or otherwise written out of history. All of us have a duty to help reclaim these stories… to bring these voices back into the open.

With that in mind, I wanted to share the story of a remarkable woman, whose story really deserves to be better known. She was Lady Six Monkey (Mixtec: Ñuñuu Dzico-Coo-Yodzo), a great warrior queen of the Mixtec people of southern Mexico who was born into the royal house of the Mixtec city of Jaltepec in 1073. Lady Six Monkey was a formidable empire builder who played a pivotal role in the history of the Mixtecs.

The warrior queen Lady Six Monkey in her element, leading an attack and capturing prisoners of war

And believe me, Six Monkey lived in a dangerous time. In 963, a century before Six Monkey was born, a clash of dynastic politics had ripped the Mixtec world apart, culminating in a ferocious war known as the “War of Heaven.” Whole cities were annihilated, and whole royal dynasties wiped out. The conflict led to a major restructuring of Mixtec power politics, with a number of new centers rising out of the ashes. One was a new kingdom centered around the city of Tilantongo, another was a neighboring kingdom based at Jaltepec—Lady Six Monkey’s hometown. Between these two kingdoms was the smaller kingdom based in Huachino. In the War of Heaven’s aftermath, Huachino was one of the last of the older, classical kingdoms left standing. It was much reduced in power, and struggled to hold its own against the new kingdoms rising around it, but its royal house was still one of the most ancient, venerable lineages in the region. Six Monkey’s story played out against a backdrop of these feuding, rival kingdoms that sought to seize ultimate power in a Mixtec-style Game of Thrones involving communities across La Mixteca.

And for a while, no one played this game better than Lady Six Monkey. Continue reading