University of Mobile Professor to Perform Winning Composition at International Piano Festival

Kathy DeanASOTA, News

MOBILE, Ala. – An original piano composition titled “Think…Together,” composed and performed by University of Mobile professor and Steinway Artist Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva, won a first place award in the XVII Golden Key Piano Composition Competition held in historic Ehrbar Hall in Vienna, Austria.


Onalbayeva was among 104 participants in the competition that included categories organized by age and nationality. She was awarded a First Degree Diploma in the National Professional category in the January competition.

The winning composition has been recommended for the program of the World Composers Recital and Onalbayeva will perform “Think…Together” at the Golden Key Music Festival in Vienna, Austria, on July 31. She will be awarded the Diploma and Winner’s Medal on the stage of Vienna’s historic Ehrbar Hall during the award ceremony this summer. 

The composition “Think…Together” can be heard on Amazon Music here: https://music.amazon.com/albums/B09BQ61HDJ?do=play&trackAsin=B09BQ2NSHX&ref=dm_sh_A6hZb85J3aJgckf5NSaPB1sxc

University of Mobile: An All-Steinway School

Onalbayeva is director of piano studies and professor of music in the Alabama School of the Arts at the University of Mobile, an All-Steinway School.

The piano studies program offers the Bachelor of Music in piano performance, Bachelor of Arts in composition, and Master of Music in piano performance, with concentration in solo piano, collaborative piano, chamber music and ensemble. UM’s program combines knowledge from piano literature with piano pedagogy and advanced piano pedagogy.

“Each year, the ASOTA Piano Festival provides opportunities for University of Mobile students to hear world-renowned performing artists and take part in their master classes,” Onalbayeva said.

Piano studies students have a variety of performance opportunities through the Alabama School of the Arts, including the annual Christmas Spectacular production that is performed live multiple nights for audiences totaling over 8,000, plus seen internationally through satellite television.

These experiences and individual attention from world-class artists and professors produce graduates who now are teaching and performing around the world, Onalbayeva said.

The Alabama School of the Arts offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in music, theatre, production technology, worship leadership and more. Learn more about the University of Mobile and Alabama School of the Arts at umobile.edu/asota.

Meet Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva

Steinway Artist Kadisha 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 and, 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, Russia and Uzbekistan. 

After graduating from the Zhubanov School, Kadisha entered the Kurmangazy National Conservatory of Music. She was awarded the Kazakh President’s Award for Young Artists and Chevron’s Award for Talented Students in piano and composition.

She earned two Master of Musical Arts degrees in both composition and piano performance at the University of New Orleans and received her Doctor 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 United States. She currently 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 United States.

She was commissioned to write a symphonic poem titled “Zherym” (My Motherland) by the Kazakhstan National Orchestra. She premiered Artyk Toxsanbayev’s Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra (dedicated to her) with the Astana Philharmonic Orchestra, Kazakhstan and Albany Symphony Orchestra, Albany, Georgia, USA. Another composition dedicated to Onalbayeva was composed by her husband, Michael Coleman, entitled “Arman” (Dream), and premiered with the Louisiana Sinfonietta in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. 

The Minister of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan filmed a documentary on the life and musical career of Dr. Onalbayeva titled “Independent National’s Heritage” which was released in both Kazakh and in Russian.

Learn more about Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva at kadishaonalbayeva.com.

About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university with a vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions in an environment where they are known. Located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama, on a campus of over 880 acres, the university offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs.The University of Mobile was founded in 1961 and is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.