News on The Thinking Heart

I had to take a break to visit my older sister. Things go on nonetheless, and I am catching up with all – whatever is all in a days work.
Martin Steingesser, our first author, Brothers of Morning 2002, is busy with his performance piece and you can read a review about it . Of course these are events taking place in Portland, ME, but this kind of work is receiving attention as others do similar work.

Two more performances of “The Thinking Heart: the Life and Loves of Etty Hillesum,” will be presented in the Portland area during May and June at First Parish Church; the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church; and at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Family Library. Conversation concerning the work will follow performances.  Addresses of performance sites, dates, times and other particulars below.
• Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, 524 Allen Avenue, Portland, on May 22, at  3 pm. Contact: Caroline Loupe,, 207-926-5983. Admission: Donation Requested.
• Glickman Family Library at the University of Southern Maine, 314 Forest Avenue, 7th Floor, Portland, on June 2, at 7 pm. This performance is sponsored by Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. Contact: Joshua Bodwell, Executive Director,, 207-228-8263.

‘The Thinking Heart’
History in Poetry and Music

“Poignant and stirring, The Thinking Heart leaves an indelible impression.”
—Robert Bernheim, Executive Director, Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine.

“Etty confronts us all with what it means to be and remain human
under the most extreme circumstances.”
—Edward van Voolen, Chairman, Etty Hillesum Foundation

About The Thinking Heart

“The Thinking Heart,” an original arrangement of the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch woman who opposed Nazism with compassion and love, is an ensemble work in two voices, with cello. The work, constellated as poems by Martin Steingesser, is presented by Steingesser and Judy Tierney with cellist Robin Jellis. Her music, meditations inspired by the poems, are mostly improvisational. There are quotes from Earnest Bloch’s Schelomo. Other influences include folk songs and J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied cello. The final movement is an original piece by Jellis.
“Beautifully done, the combination of voices and cello extraordinary,” said Tricia Ryden, Assistant Director of Wiggin Memorial Library, in Stratham, NH. “Profoundly moving.”

Etty Hillesum was a Jewish woman who lived in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation and wrote a luminous diary and over 70 letters, collected and published together in a book, Etty: The Letters and Diaries of Etty Hillesum. The journal and letters document her vibrant life in Amsterdam and subsequent internment by the Nazis. She died in Auschwitz in 1943.
Martin Steingesser is Portland, Maine’s first Poet Laureate (2007-09). “His poems articulate the many seasons of the heart,” said Baron Wormser, writing of his book Brothers of Morning. He was selected to receive the Maine Alliance for Art Education’s Bill Bonyun Award in 2006 “for exemplified talent and professionalism as an artist and for being an inspiration to the community.”
Judy Tierney has been presenting poems in Maine for several years and has been nourished in the garden of poetry over many life seasons. She was creator and host of a weekly radio program, “Walking in the Air,” celebrating poetry and its voices, on WRFR, Rockland’s community radio station.
Robin Jellis has performed in Maine for more than 10 years and has played with the Bangor Symphony. She is on the faculty of the Portland Conservatory of Music.


The Thinking Heart Ensemble thanks the Maine Humanities Council & Maine Arts Commission for its support.

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