Cleveland Institute of Music
A Cleveland Institute of Music faculty member, pianist Sandra Shapiro traces her family's history in In My Father's Footsteps: A Daughter's Search for Answers.
In the piece, Shapiro plays music that speaks to her family's cultural history and how she discovered the story of her father's life (he served in the Russian army and lived in Argentina and Israel before finally moving to the States).
She began working on the composition way back in 2004 as she tried to find out more about her father's roots. Because her father died when she was young, she didn't know the man very well. She uncovered a clue when she began writing to one of his cousins who lived in East Germany. But her online research had hit a wall.
Then, the 2016 presidential election took place, and immigration became a hot topics. That rekindled her interest in finding her roots.
"When this election came about last year, I was getting very concerned and upset by events surrounding the election," she says. "The things that were coming up were very disconcerting. I started thinking about immigration and roots. For me, one of the important things is that I don't believe I would be the musician or person I am today if it weren't for my cultural heritage and all the musical influences I've had throughout my life that have been incredibly important. My own personal cultural heritage is significant too. Half of me is Russian and half is Israeli."
Though she had been playing chamber music, she wanted to return to playing piano. But she didn't want to be just another recital pianist.
"I wanted to play solo, but it has to have more meaning," she says. "I thought, 'Why not try to learn about cultural heritage and musical influences and create programs around this idea?'"
She put together a proposal for four programs, the first of which is In My Father's Footsteps — A Daughter's Search For Answers. She'll perform it at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, at Mixon Hall
. It features her "twist" on Dvorak and includes compositions by Liadov, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Schubert.
"I want to bring home the point that we're all connected, and we're all influenced by so many different things," says Shapiro. "It's my response to the elections and what I wanted to say about all of that. Recitals can be very formal, but I do speak during the recital, and I talk about why I chose each group of pieces and what the relationship is between the music and my father."
Admission is free, but a ticket (which can be obtained through the CIM website) is required.