Maestro Oleh Mahlay
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1969 to Ukrainian immigrants, Oleh Mahlay began to study the piano at the age of five. He studied violin, music theory and form at the Cleveland Music School Settlement where he received scholarships for his studies. Maestro Mahlay also studied piano with Dr. George Cherry of Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music. His violin teachers included Elmer Seltzer of the Cleveland Orchestra and Jeannette Drinkold-Meyer, a student of renowned violinist Josef Gingold.
Beginning in his early teens, Mr. Mahlay earned outstanding marks at various competitions on both the violin and the piano. At the 1986 Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Summer Music Clinic in Berea, Ohio, he won the piano competition, performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in G Major, K. 453 with orchestra. He repeated this feat the next year in which he performed Beethoven's Piano Concert No. 1 in C Major. He also played in various youth orchestra at the Baldwin Wallace Preparatory Department, and in 1987 was honored as the Outstanding Preparatory Student of the Year. That same year he was also the piano soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with the Parma Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member of the first violin section of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra in its inaugural season.
Maestro Mahlay received a bachelor of arts in music history and literature from Case Western Reserve University. He studied voice and piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He served as the concertmaster of the University Circle Chamber Orchestra for four years. During his undergraduate studies, the university awarded him the Kennedy Prize for Creative Achievement in Music, and the Charles E. Clemens Prize for Talent and Accomplishment in Music. He is also a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda music honorary society at C.I.M. and C.W.R.U. Mr. Mahlay was a magna cum laude and phi beta kappa graduate.
In 1988, Mr. Mahlay attended the Bolzano Institute of Music in Bolzano, Italy. There, he concentrated on piano chamber works and accompanying. The previous two years he participated in a choral conducting seminar in Edmonton, Canada. This workshop was run by Maestro Wolodymyr Kolesnyk, formerly of the Kyiv Opera and artistic director of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus for over a decade.
At the age of 16, Mr. Mahlay became the choir director of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, Ohio. This position was held for many years by the late Hryhory Kytasty - Ukrainian composer, bandura player, Artistic Director of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus, and musical mentor to Oleh Mahlay. This post gave Mahlay the opportunity at a very young age to explore and gain insights into the art of choral conducting and the mystical sounds of Slavic sacred music. Mr. Mahlay also has orchestral conducting experience, once serving as the assistant conductor for the Parma Symphony Orchestra.
Maestro Mahlay began his bandura studies at the age of 15. In 1988, he began his long association with the annual Kobzarska Sich Bandura Camp in Emlenton, Pennsylvania, where he has served as conductor, lecturer, and music director over the years. He became a member of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus in 1987.
Mahlay served as the ensemble's concertmaster from 1991-1992, became a member of the artistic council in 1992, and that same year was given the responsibilities of assistant conductor. He participated in the Chorus' two triumphant tours of Ukraine in 1991 and 1994, and had his premier as a conductor of the group in 1994.
His six recordings with the UBC, Ukrainian Steppe, A Bandura Christmas, Golden Echoes of Kyiv: The Divine Liturgy, European Tour: Historic Live Recordings, Bayda, and 1659 have earned artistic acclaim, and feature some of the conductor's own compositions and arrangements.
Mr. Mahlay is a practicing attorney in the Cleveland, Ohio region. He continues to teach voice and bandura, lectures frequently on various musical topics, and conducts workshops throughout North America and remains active in the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus sponsored Kobzarska Sich bandura and vocal camp held in August every year.
During his first tenure with the UBC from 1996-2008, Mahlay directed the ensemble in seven concert tours throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Ukraine. Collaborative efforts with the Vesnivka Women's Choir of Toronto and Metropolitan Opera Soloist Paul Plishka also highlighted Maestro's first term in addition to many special performances including the Stratford Summer Music Festival (2004) and at the Baldwin Wallace College World Music Series (2007).
Maestro Mahlay returned to the UBC as Artistic Director and Conductor on August 1, 2012.