Artistic Director and Conductor of Vocalise, Artistic Advisor to Aria
Elena Sharkova has been Artistic Director of the Cantabile Youth Singers since 2004 and oversees all educational and performance aspects of the program, in addition to conducting the top choirs, Vocalise and Ensemble, and being the Artistic Advisor to Aria.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Sharkova received a Bachelor’s Degree in music education and piano and subsequently a graduate degree in conducting from the world-renowned St. Petersburg Rimski-Korsakov State Conservatoire, alma mater to Tchaikovski, Prokofiev, Schostakovich and Balanchin. Upon graduation, Elena was appointed Chair of the Choral Department of the Preparatory Music School at the conservatory. There she developed a new curriculum based on the innovative Ogorodnov Method and directed four youth choirs (ages 3-18.) In 1993 Ms. Sharkova moved to the US and received her second graduate degree in conducting from Western Michigan University where she later served on the faculty. Elena arrived in the Bay Area in 1998 to join the music faculty at San Jose State University where she served as Director of Choral Studies, conducting three choirs and teaching classes in voice, choral conducting, and music education until spring 2006.
Equally comfortable working with professional musicians and very young children just beginning their musical explorations, Elena is thrilled to be starting her second decade as Cantabile’s Artistic Director. She believes that young people are the best ambassadors of music and culture, and that choral and ensemble singing is the most powerful art that brings people together no matter of their age, social differences, politics or religion.
A dedicated music educator, speaker and clinician, Elena Sharkova is one of the busiest festival and honor choir conductors in North America. Elena has conducted professional, university, youth and community choirs and orchestras in 17 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In the US, Ms. Sharkova appeared as guest conductor at several prestigious venues such as New York City’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Chicago Orchestra Hall, San Francisco’s Davies Hall, Washington DC Kennedy Center and Segestrom Concert Hall in Orange County.
Artistic Director of Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale (formerly San Jose State University Chorale) since 1998, Ms. Sharkova has prepared and conducted the chorus in over 50 major choral-orchestral works such as Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Verdi’s Requiem and opera Aida (concert production) among many others.
As conductor and coach, Elena Sharkova regularly appears with professional artists. In 2014, she served as guest music director for the Grammy Award winning “Orchestra of Voices” — male choir Chanticleer in a genre- and time—spanning program entitled Russian Dreams that featured folk, spiritual, secular, and urban vocal heritage of the nation. With Cantabile, Elena's other recent projects have been with Kronos Quartet, Symphony Silicon Valley, Stanford Symphony, Ballet San Jose, visual artist Nene Humphrey, and actor Ryan Gosling’s rock play “Deadman’s Bones, among others.
A passionate advocate for Russian choral music, Elena has lectured extensively on its repertoire and conducted several U.S. premiers of Russian contemporary compositions. Since 2013, she has been serving as the editor for “Elena Sharkova Choral Series” with Carl Fischer Music and has published with National Music Publishers as well.
As a soprano, Elena has performed and recorded with Lege Artis, one of Russia’s finest professional choirs, and appears on five studio CDs on SonyClassical label.