by Mike Telin
Like many first-generation Americans whose families had been forced to leave their homes because of Nazi atrocities during World War II, pianist Sandra Shapiro grew up not fully understanding the circumstances that led to her father’s arrival in the United States.
“I grew up in Milwaukee but moved away to study at Juilliard when I was fourteen,” Shapiro said during a telephone conversation, “so my relationship with him did not go beyond that until the very end when he was dying, and then it was too late to ask questions. When you’re fourteen you don’t think about your parents’ lives — they’re just your mother and father. Sadly, I was not interested, and he didn’t talk about his past. There was a sense of taboo to even talk about those years.”
Shapiro’s quest to discover her father’s past has led to the creation of her four-concert project, Musical Roots: an exploration of cultural heritage and influences. The first installment, “In My Father’s Footsteps — a daughter’s search for answers,” will be presented on Wednesday, March 21 at 8:00 pm at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Mixon Hall. Shapiro’s musical documentary will include works by Liadov, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Schubert. The concert is free, but seating passes are required. Call 216.795.3211.