University of Mobile’s Steinway Artist Kadisha Onalbayeva Wins National Composition Prize

Kathy Dean Arts, News

MOBILE, Ala. – A solo piano composition titled “Think…Together” earned University of Mobile music professor and Steinway Artist Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva top honors from the National Federation of Music Clubs.

Onalbayeva was named winner of the 2019 Glad Robinson Youse Composition Competition by the NFMC, the largest nonprofit organization in America that promotes and supports American music, performers and music education.

The honor is one of many recent recognitions for Onalbayeva, director of piano studies at the Alabama School of the Arts at the University of Mobile.

The National Kazakh Conservatory, Republic of Kazakhstan invited Onalbayeva to give master classes and perform a solo recital May 18 in the Big Hall at the National Kazakh Conservatory.Onalbayeva’s participation was part of the 75thyear Celebration of the National Kazakh Conservatory.

Also, she was invited to be an adjudicator for the V Mukhan Tulebaev International Competition for Professional Conductors and Vocalists.  She was the only representative from the United States judging in the competition which took place in Taldikorgan, Kazakhstan from May 22-25.

In addition, Onalbayeva recentlyrecorded “Ligeti Light” for solo piano by Lawrence Moss on a CD released in April 2019 through Innova. Her recording is the first track on the CD. The title of the CD is “New Dawn.”

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. She also participated in international music festivals in Germany, Turkey, Russia, and Uzbekistan.

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

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, and her Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance at Louisiana State University.

Throughout her career, Dr. Onalbayeva has been a strong supporter of new music and she has been particularly interested in introducing the music of Kazakhstan to audiences the United States. 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 United States.

In addition to serving as She is founder and currently serves as President of the Gulf Coast Steinway Society (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi).

The Minister of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan produced a documentary on the life and musical career of Onalbayeva titled “Independent National’s Heritage” which was released in both Kazakh and in Russian in 2015. In 2016, Onalbayeva recorded three works for Steinway’s Spirio recording project at Steinway Hall in New York, NY. In 2017 she was awarded an Artist Fellowship Grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. On June 6, 2018 she performed a solo recital at Carnegie Hall.


About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 76 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.

For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.eduor call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean is assistant vice president for university communications and has helped tell the University of Mobile story since 1993. She is an award-winning public relations professional and former journalist. Her husband and daughter are UM graduates. She loves playing in the yard – planting flowers, picking blueberries, pulling weeds and petting her two mini-schnauzers.