ALIAS Chamber Ensemble | Nashville Public Radio

ALIAS Chamber Ensemble

photographer unknown, circa 1939 / Wikimedia Commons

The broad strokes of Etty Hillesum’s life before World War II were not particularly remarkable. Her father was a Dutch school master, and her mother was one of many Russian Jews who fled the pogroms of their homeland to make a new life Western Europe.

Hillesum herself wasn’t a particularly good student, although she was interested in languages. Her brother was a very skilled pianist, but she showed no particular aptitude for music. She worked as a housekeeper. She had a romantic relationship with her boss.

courtesy Paul Moravec/illustration from 1623 Shakespeare folio

Production delays on their new album certainly frustrated Nashville’s ALIAS Chamber Ensemble and Portara Ensemble, but ultimately the groups’ new album release got an apt release date: roughly 400 years after the death of the man who wrote their lyrics.