Steinway Artist from Kazakhstan to perform free piano concert at St. Ambrose

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Steinway Artist Kadisha Onalbaeyva will perform a free piano recital at Madsen Hall at St. Ambrose University, at 5 p.m. Oct. 8.

An internationally recognized pianist will give a free concert and master class Friday as part of St. Ambrose University’s Casual Classics II series.

Steinway Artist Kadisha Onalbaeyva will perform at 5 p.m., in Madsen Hall, Galvin Fine Arts Center, Davenport. Her program will feature music of Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Coleman, Uzenbayeva, and her own work, to be followed by a reception and master class featuring local piano teacher associations students.

Onalbayeva was born in Zhetisay, Kazakhstan and began her musical training at the age of five. She is the first pianist from Kazakhstan to be named a Steinway Artist. She attended the Zhubanov Special School for Children in Almaty, Kazakhstan. While at Zhubanov, she studied piano and composition, gave piano recitals and was involved in both piano and composition festivals and competitions.

Awards include the Soviet Union’s New Talent competition and various prizes in national piano competitions and Central Asia piano competitions. She also participated in international music festivals in Germany, Turkey, Russia, and Uzbekistan.

Onalbayeva continued her performances as a recitalist, chamber musician, composer, and as an orchestral soloist. She received a Soros Prize for her work in the development of international cultural exchanges. She earned two Master of Musical Arts degrees in both composition and piano performance at the University of New Orleans. She then received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in piano performance at Louisiana State University.

Throughout her career, Onalbayeva has been a strong supporter of new music and she has been particularly interested in introducing the music of Kazakhstan to audiences in the U.S., according to her bio. She performs her music and participates in international new music festivals as a composer, performer and organizer throughout Central Asia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Europe, Costa Rica, Bahamas and the U.S.

Onalbayeva is the Director of Piano Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Mobile, Alabama School of the Arts. She is founder and currently serves as president of the Gulf Coast Steinway Society (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi).

In 2017, she was awarded an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. In 2018, she performed a solo recital at Carnegie Hall, and in 2019, she recorded “Ligeti Light” for solo piano by Lawrence Moss on a CD released through Innova.

Marian Lee, SAU assistant professor of piano, is thrilled to have Onalbayeva come to Ambrose. Lee performed and judged at a Gulf Coast Steinway Society piano festival a few years ago in Mobile.

Marian Lee is a St. Ambrose University assistant professor of piano.

“I’ve been wanting to bring her here,” Lee said Monday, noting it was originally supposed to happen in 2019, then Covid happened. Onalbayeva will work with five students, in 8th through 12th grades, offering feedback on pieces they will perform.

“I think it’s a wonderful way of connecting with the community,” she said. “Through the generous donation of the Rhee Family Fund, they donated generously so we could bring her and she could do this master class.”

Onalbayeva recently won Steinway’s top teacher of the year award and was just inducted into the Steinway and Sons Music Teacher Hall of Fame for 2021, Lee said.

“It’s a nice honor to have; that’s why I’m excited for our local students to hear what she has to say. She also will talk to piano students at St. Ambrose, earlier in the day.”

The Oct. 8 event is part of the 14th-annual St. Ambrose College of Arts and Sciences theme — which this year is “Re/Building Community.”

Re/Building Community opens up diverse pathways for inquiry and exploration across the St. Ambrose campus and larger Quad Cities region.

“Following on the heels of a global pandemic, continued racial injustice, attempted disruptions to our democracy, and an increasingly heightened sense of division, re/building is what our communities and our country need,” according to SAU.

For more information on the pianist, visit her website.

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