“In My Father’s Footsteps — A Daughter’s Search for Answers “is the first narrative in a four-part project entitled, “Musical Roots: An Exploration of Cultural Heritage and Musical Influences.”

It will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at Idyllwild Arts.

The project had its genesis in 2004 upon discovering an old letter from Moscow written to my father and my attempt to locate its author. Born in Russia in 1923, my father died when I was young. Never having known him as an adult, I began my quest to learn about his life and journey to America traversing five continents.

Finding answers to my many questions proved to be challenging due to the chaos of war-time records as well as limited access to records located in Russia. However, with time, what I was able to discover was a story beyond anything I could have imagined. My father’s life unfolded as a fantastic portrayal of courage and perseverance in pursuing his dreams.

I eventually found and met the author of the letter, as well as people who knew him, his friends or his family in Russia.

One person writing her family memoirs devoted an entire chapter to my father who was their family doctor when she was a child in a displaced person’s camp in Germany. The family developed a very close relationship with my father that continued until he passed away.

It was through her that I learned he escaped from the Russian Army into which he was drafted to serve as a medic while still a student studying medicine in Odessa. When the army was stationed in Berlin, he learned that he was going to be sent back to Russia and placed in a Gulag. With a great deal of help, he was able to escape to an American army base in Augsburg, Germany. In Augsburg, he was given refugee status and placed in the Foehrenwald DP Camp as a doctor.

From Foehrenwald, he was relocated for a brief time to Argentina then to the newly formed State of Israel and then to America.

The journey inspired me to create a series of four stories relayed via musical narratives (recitals).

The music will reflect what I was able to learn about my father’s life, and is dedicated to all who’ve found the courage to pursue their dreams for a better life for themselves and/or their families.

Sandra Shapiro

Idyllwild Arts Academy guest pianist