A River Forest resident who is the co-author of the highly acclaimed "Strings Attached"will discuss the book—and the gripping, often tragic but ultimately triumphant personal history at its core—at the River Forest Public Library on Sunday, Oct. 4th at 2 PM.
The program by Melanie Kupchynsky, which will feature her discussing the making of the book as well as a multi-media presentation, will be held at the library, 735 Lathrop Ave. She is the daughter of Jerry Kupchynsky, a Ukrainian immigrant known as "Mr. K" to his students and who had a profound impact as a New Jersey public high school music teacher
The book's full name, "Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations," describes his determination that all of his music students performed to the utmost of their abilities. That translated into a tough-love, gruff style in which he would holler at students to motivate them to improve.
Although such an approach today would likely be controversial—and perhaps not be permitted at all—Mr. K's influence was demonstrated after he died in 2009. Months later, many former students returned from all over the country to perform a memorial concert in his honor. It turned out that although Mr. K's subject was music, the lessons he taught, including perseverance, teamwork, self-discipline, focus, compassion and sensitivity, were remembered long after his students left his classroom.
That gathering, which included doctors, lawyers, teachers, and many other highly successful professionals, inspired one of his former students, award-winning journalist Joanne Lipman, to team up with Kupchynsky to write the book.
In her presentation, Kupchynsky will use musical recordings and photographs from her father's personal archives to trace her family's poignant history, from her dad's dramatic escape from war-torn Ukraine, to his search for his younger daughter, Stephanie, when she mysteriously disappeared.
She will also reveal the surprising discoveries that led to her collaboration with Lipman on this project. The presentation concludes with Kupchynsky's own musical tribute to her father, a recorded performance of "Meditation from Thais" by Jules Massenet.
Since its 2013 publication, "Strings Attached" has gained widespread notoriety that has included reviews and features in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times andTime.com.
Kupchynsky has been a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1989 and her husband, Edward Harrison, is a musician for the Lyric Opera. Their three children all grew up in River Forest—and learned to play the violin.
Her presentation is part of a series geared toward seniors, "Let's Celebrate Seniors All Year Long." Although the programs are especially tailored to seniors, they are free and open to people of all ages, as well as those from outside River Forest and Oak Park.
The series kicked off on July 23rd with a presentation by an Amelia Earhart expert, and has been followed by an August 17th presentation on de-cluttering, and a Sept. 10th presentation, "Style over 60," by River Forest resident Chris Hauri.
The final program in the series is on Tuesday, November 3rd, at 2 p.m., at the River Forest Community Center, 8020 Madison. Charles Troy will dramatize the story behind the making of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. The presentation comes just in time for the Broadway revival of Fiddler that opens in November.
The series name is inspired by—but not directly associated with— Celebrating Seniors Week, a not-for-profit initiative that culminates in a weeklong series of events every May throughout River Forest, Oak Park and Forest Park. River Forest Township is a strong supporter of Celebrating Seniors.
To learn more about these programs, or any of the other programs or services provided by River Forest Township, please call 708-366-2029 or visit www.RiverForestTownship.org. On Facebook: www.facebook.com/RiverForestTownship; on Twitter:www.twitter.com/RFTownship.
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