2023 Music Staff
Oleh Mahlay – Music Director
Oleh Mahlay (conductor, composer, lecturer) is the current artistic director and conductor of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America (Українська Капеля Бандуристів Північної Америки ім. Т. Шевченка). He is on the teaching staff of the Hryhory Kytasty Cleveland School of Bandura and the current artistic director of the Kobzarska Sich Bandura and Choral Programs (Emlenton, Pennsylvania). Maestro Mahlay received the prestigious Honored Artist of the Ukrainian Arts (Заслужений діяч мистецтв України) which was presented to him by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in September of 2021.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1969 to Ukrainian immigrants, Maestro Mahlay received a bachelor of arts in music history and literature from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and then a juris doctor degree from The Ohio State University College of Law. As a musician, he has a varied background as a conductor, pianist, violinist, bandurist, lecturer and composer. At the age of 16, Mr. Mahlay became the choir director of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Parma, Ohio (a post previously held by the legendary bandurist Hryhory Kytasty) and began teaching at the Kobzarska Sich Bandura Camp (Emlenton, Pennsylvania) soon thereafter. He also was the concertmaster of the University Circle Chamber Orchestra, a violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, assistant conductor with the Parma Symphony Orchestra, and music curator at the Ukrainian Museum-Archives of Cleveland.
The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America (UBC), founded in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv in 1918, has been intertwined with Mr. Mahlay’s work as a conductor, composer, and educator. He has been a musician with the ensemble since 1982 (first serving as a vocalist, bandurist, bass bandura player, concertmaster), becoming its artistic director and conductor in 1996. During his tenure (1996 through 2008, and from 2012 through the present), the UBC has achieved artistic acclaim as a result of nine released recordings, educational outreach programming, hundreds of concerts throughout North America and Europe, and Ukraine. Most recently, Mr. Mahlay led the ensemble in its historic centennial concert tour of Ukraine, along with participation at the International Bandura Forum in Kyiv. With the ensemble, maestro Mahlay has spearheaded unique collaborative artistic projects with artists such as Paul Plishka (New York Metropolitan Opera), the National Bandurist Cappella of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine), the Shumka Dance Ensemble (Edmonton, Alberta), the Vesnivka Choir (Toronto, Ontario), the Women’s Bandura Ensemble of North America, and international singing star Ruslana (Eurovision winner).
As a composer, Oleh Mahlay has written over 120 original works or arrangements, with the majority of works for the bandura, chorus, or voice. His compositions have been performed by ensembles in the United States, Canada, and Ukraine. He continues to lecture on various musical topics, focusing on Ukrainian sacred music and the bandura. In his conductor role, he has led ensembles at memorable venues such as Massey Hall (Toronto), Lincoln Center (New York), the Ukrainian National Philharmonic (Kyiv), the Lviv Opera House, Mandel Concert Hall at Severance Music Center (Cleveland) and Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris). In December of 2022, maestro Mahlay had the honor of conducting over 120 voices in Mykola Leontovych’s world- famous Shchedryk (“Carol of the Bells”) at New York’s Carnegie Hall during the centennial celebration of this choral classic.
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