A Conversation on Leonard Cohen: From This Broken Hill I Sing to You

October 5, 2021

On October 5th 2021, FOLCS celebrated the life and prolific works of Leonard Cohen with Marcia Pally’s new book, From This Broken Hill I Sing to You. We were joined in conversation by author and professor Marcia Pally, psychologist Carol Gilligan, composer David Amram, and musician Peter Himmelman. Who better to discuss Cohen’s deep well of artistry, emotional, and devotional explorations than this array of masters in each of their diverse fields?

Timed to coincide with the upcoming fifth anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death in November 2016, Marcia Pally’s From This Broken Hill I Sing to You follows Leonard Cohen’s faith, love, and frustration through his use of Jewish and Christian imagery, and his writing about sex and politics in his final works. On this special night, David Amram and Peter Himmelman also treated the FOLCS audience to a few exclusive performances in honor of the great musician.

Watch A Conversation on Leonard Cohen: From This Broken Hill I Sing to You here.

See more from FOLCS here. 

Marcia Pally
Author; Professor

Professor Marcia Pally teaches at New York University, at Fordham University, and is an annual guest professor at Humboldt University’s Theology Faculty. In 2019-2020 she was a Fellow and The Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton. Her research interests are culture, religion, and politics as well as the intersection of culture and language. She is the author of several books in each area,  including:

Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality (2016) nominated for a Grawemeyer Award in Religion and selected by the U.N. Committee on Education for Justice for  worldwide distribution.

Mimesis and Sacrifice (2019, Ed.) a look at how notions of sacrifice are used in contemporary life, from the military and business to gender relations and politics.

The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good (2011) a brief history of American evangelicalism and in-depth interviews with evangelicals who have left the right.

Prof. Pally has been awarded the prestigious Mercator Guest Professorship and grants from the German Research Foundation,* the German Academic Exchange Service, among others. She was twice a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study-Berlin and spoke at the World Economic Forum in 2010.

Prof. Pally has lectured widely at university and professional associations, among, them Oxford University; the Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton; Institut d’études européennes et internationales du Luxembourg; John F. Kennedy School for North American Studies, Free University, Berlin; Centre of Theology and Philosophy, The Cato Institute; Hebrew Union College, among many others.

Prof. Pally is on the boards of the Berlin Institute for Public Theology and of the Telos Institute, in addition to other advisory positions.

In addition to her academic work, Prof. Pally has been a columnist and contributor to U.S. and European periodicals, writing for Religion and Ethics, Commonweal, Political Theology Network, Religion News Service, The Guardian, The New York Times, Telos journal, Internationale Politik (German Council on Foreign Relations), die Zeit, Südduetsche Zeitung, Tageszeitung, and Frankfurter Rundschau, among other periodicals

*The German Research Foundation is roughly the equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes for the Humanities.

Carol Gilligan
Psychologist; Feminist; Ethicist

Carol Gilligan received an A.B. with highest honors in English literature from Swarthmore College, a masters degree in clinical psychology from Radcliffe College and a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University. Her landmark book In A Different Voice (1982) is described by Harvard University Press as “the little book that started a revolution.” Following In A Different Voice, she initiated the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development and co-authored or edited five books with her students: Mapping the Moral Domain (1988); Making Connections (1990); Women, Girls, and Psychotherapy: Reframing Resistance (1991); Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development (1992) — a New York Times notable book of the year — and Between Voice and Silence: Women and Girls, Race and Relationships (1995). Her 2002 book The Birth of Pleasure, was described by The Times Literary Supplement as “a thrilling new paradigm.”

She has received a Senior Research Scholar Award from the Spencer Foundation, a Grawemeyer Award for her contributions to education, a Heinz Award for her contributions to understanding the human condition, and was named by Time Magazine in 1996 as one of the 25 most influential Americans. Following her research on women and girls’ development, she studied young boys and their parents and explored impasses in man-woman relationships. The Strengthening Healthy Resistance and Courage in Girls programs, the Women Teaching Girls/Girls Teaching Women retreats, and the In Our Own Voices workshops she developed with her colleagues have become model intervention and prevention projects. She was a member of the Harvard faculty for over 30 years and in 1997 became Harvard’s first professor of Gender Studies, occupying the Patricia Albjerg Graham chair. In 1992, she was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge. In 2002, she became University Professor at New York University, with affiliations in the School of Law, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Her 2009 book The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy’s Future, co-authored with David A. J. Richards, was published by Cambridge University Press. Her most recent book, Joining the Resistance, was published by Polity Press in 2011. She teaches a seminar on resisting injustice with David Richards at the Law School and seminars on The Listening Guide Method of Psychological Inquiry at the Steinhardt School. In 2011, she gave master classes on the Listening Guide for history Ph.D. students at the University of Cambridge and for psychologists at the University of Brussels.

Her first novel, Kyra, was published by Random House in 2008. Her play, “The Scarlet Letter,” coauthored with her son, Jonathan Gilligan, was presented at the Culture Project’s WomenCenterStage festival in New York City in 2005 and 2007. The play has now become the libretto for an opera, “Pearl,” which had its first workshop performance at Shakespeare & Company in August, 2012. The opera will be part of a Chinese-American cultural exchange in Shanghai in March, 2013, and will be performed again in workshop format at Shakespeare & Company on August 5, 2013.

David Amram
Composer; Multi-Instrumentalist

David Amram began his professional life in music as a French Hornist in the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.) in 1951. After serving in the US Army from 1952-54, he recorded his first album at the Jazzkeller in Frankfurt in 1954, then moved to Paris, where he first recorded with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1955, he moved to New York City, where he played French horn in the legendary jazz bands of Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton and Oscar Pettiford. In 1957, Amram created and performed in the first ever Jazz/Poetry readings in New York City with novelist Jack Kerouac, a close friend with whom Amram collaborated artistically for over 12 years.

Since the early 1950s, he has traveled the world extensively, working as a musician and a conductor in over thirty-five countries including Cuba, Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan, Israel, Latvia and China. He also regularly crisscrosses the United States and Canada. Amram composed the scores for many films including Pull My Daisy (1959), Splendor In The Grass (1960) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962); while composing the scores for twenty-three Broadway plays.  He also composed the scores for Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare In The Park from 1956-1967, and premiered his comic opera 12th Night with Papp’s libretto in 1968.  He also wrote a second opera, The Final Ingredient, An Opera of the Holocaust, for ABC Television in 1965, which was broadcast four straight years on Passover.

From 1964-66, Amram was the Composer and Music Director for the Lincoln Center Theatre and wrote the score for Arthur Miller’s plays After The Fall (1964) and Incident at Vichy (1966). Appointed by Leonard Bernstein as the first Composer in Residence for the New York Philharmonic in 1966, he is now one of the most performed and influential composers of our time.

Amram’s most popular recent symphonic compositions include This Land, Symphonic Variations On A Song By Woody Guthrie (2007), commissioned by the Guthrie Foundation and performed by the Colorado Symphony with Amram conducting and recorded by Newport Classics in 2015; Giants of the Night (2002) commissioned and  premiered by flutist Sir James Galway; Kokopeli, A Symphony in Three Movements (1995), premiered by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra with Amram conducting; Three Songs, A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2009),  Greenwich Village Portraits for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra (2018); and  Partners: A Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra (2018)

He has collaborated as a composer with Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Eugene Ormandy, Sir James Galway, Langston Hughes and Jacques D’Amboise; and as a musician with Thelonious Monk, Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson, Dizzy Gillespie, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Betty Carter, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Paquito D’Rivera, Tito Puente and Jerry Jeff Walker.

His archive of professional and personal papers were acquired by the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts Branch of the New York Public Library.  In 2011, he was the subject of the award winning full-length feature documentary David Amram: The First Eighty Years, which is available on Vimeo On Demand. Amram is the author of three memoirs, Upbeat:Nine Lives of a Musical Cat (2009), Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac (2005) and the highly acclaimed Vibrations (1968, 2007),  all published by Routledge Taylor and Francis. His fourth book Amram@90:Notes from a Promising Young Composer will be published in November of 2022, celebrating his 92nd birthday.

David is busier than ever with worldwide celebrations of his entrance in to his 90s. In addition to writing new music, he continues to perform around the world as a guest conductor, soloist, multi-instrumentalist, band leader at jazz, folk and classical festivals and narrates them in five languages. All of David Amram’s classical concert music is published by CF. Peters Corporation for the past 57 years.

Peter Himmelman

Peter Himmelman (born November 23, 1960, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota) is a singer-songwriter from Minnesota, who formerly played in the band Sussman Lawrence. He is Bob Dylan’s son-in-law, being married to his daughter Maria Dylan. He grew up in a Jewish home, his Romanian-born grandmother having migrated to the United States with her parents when she was eight years old. Himmelman identifies as an Orthodox Jew, prays 3 times a day, and will not work on the Jewish sabbath or Jewish holidays.

In the early ’90s, he achieved a bit of alternative radio play for his song “The Woman With The Strength of 10,000,” from his Strength To Strength release. Nominated for an Emmy Award in 2002 for his Judging Amy contributions, his music has also been featured on the television series Bones. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his children album, My Green Kite. USA Today called Himmelman, “one of rock’s most wildly imaginative performers.