Steinway artist from Kazakhstan to give free piano concert in Saint Ambrose

An internationally renowned pianist will give a free concert and master class Friday as part of the Casual Classics II series at St. Ambrose University.

Steinway artist Kadisha Onalbaeyva will perform at 5 p.m. in the Madsen Hall, Galvin Fine Arts Center, Davenport. Its program will feature music by Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Coleman, Uzenbayeva and his own work, followed by a reception and master class featuring students from local associations of piano teachers.

Onalbayeva was born in Zhetisay, Kazakhstan and began her musical education at the age of five. She is the first pianist from Kazakhstan to be named a Steinway artist. She attended Zhubanov Special Children’s School in Almaty, Kazakhstan. While in Joubanov, she studied piano and composition, gave piano recitals, and participated in piano and composition festivals and competitions.

The prizes include the Soviet Union New Talent Competition and various prizes in national piano competitions and Central Asian piano competitions. She has also participated in international music festivals in Germany, Turkey, Russia and Uzbekistan.

Onalbayeva continued her performances as a recitalist, chamber musician, composer and orchestral soloist. She received a Soros Prize for her work in developing international cultural exchanges. She received two Masters of Musical Arts in Composition and Piano Performance at the University of New Orleans. She then obtained her Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from Louisiana State University.

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

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

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

Marian Lee, Assistant Piano Professor at SAU, is delighted to welcome Onalbayeva to Ambrose. Lee performed and judged at a Gulf Coast Steinway Society piano festival a few years ago in Mobile.

Marian Lee is an Assistant Professor of Piano at St. Ambrose University.

“I wanted to bring it here,” Lee said on Monday, noting that this was originally supposed to happen in 2019, then Covid happened. Onalbayeva will work with five students, in 8e at 12e notes, offering comments on the pieces they will perform.

“I think it’s a wonderful way to connect with the community,” she said. “Thanks to the generous donation from the Rhee Family Fund, they generously donated so that we could bring her in and she could do this master class.”

Onalbayeva recently won Steinway’s Best Teacher of the Year award and has just been inducted into the Steinway and Sons Music Teacher Hall of Fame for 2021, Lee said.

“It’s a great honor to have; that’s why I’m so glad our local students are hearing what she has to say. She will also speak to St. Ambrose piano students earlier today.

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

Re / Building Community opens up various avenues of inquiry and exploration across the St. Ambrose campus and the greater Quad Cities area.

“In the wake of a global pandemic, continuing racial injustice, attempts to disrupt our democracy and a growing sense of division, reconstruction is what our communities and our country need” , according to the UAA.

For more information about the pianist, visit her website.

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