Artistic Director

Elena Sharkova
Artistic Director and Conductor of Vocalise, Artistic Advisor to Aria


Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Elena Sharkova received her Bachelor’s degree in piano and music education and graduate degree in conducting from the famed Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. She began her career as a professional ensemble singer, traveling and recording extensively before moving to the U.S in 1993. Since then, she has gained an international reputation as an inspirational and versatile conductor, master teacher, lecturer, and international jury member.

Elena has been Artistic Director of the award-winning Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley since 2004. Under her leadership the organization has grown from 80 to 300 singers, toured England, Ireland, France, Spain, Russia, Estonia, Finland and Italy, made solo appearances in Carnegie Hall, and in 2016 released its first professionally recorded CD Music Down in My Soul. Ms. Sharkova leads Cantabile’s premier choir Vocalise, and, with conductor Jace Wittig, co-directs a cappella group Aria. As Cantabile Artistic Director, Elena oversees all educational and artistic aspects of the organization.

Recognized for deep and passionate interpretation of her country’s vast choral repertoire, Ms. Sharkova is frequently invited to design and conduct programs featuring sacred, secular, folk, and urban vocal legacy of the nation, spanning over a thousand years of its repertoire. Most recent engagements have been with BBC Singers in London, Grammy-winning “world-reigning male choir” Chanticleer, Miami-based Grammy-nominated choir Seraphic Fire, and Houston Chamber Choir. Dedicated to promoting new and unknown Russian choral compositions of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, she has served as editor of “Elena Sharkova Choral Series” for Carl Fischer Publishing since 2011.

Ms. Sharkova is in her nineteenth year as the chorus master for Symphony Silicon Valley (previously San Jose Symphony) and has prepared over fifty major works for distinguished conductors such as George Cleve, Carlos Vieu, Jane Glover, Gregory Vajda, William Boughton and others. Each season she leads the orchestra, chorus, and soloists in a program of major choral works and conducts the annual Carols at the California family concert.

As one of the country’s busiest festival and honor choir conductors, Elena has had a privilege to inspire choral singers in eighteen countries across three continents. She enjoys working with people of all ages and abilities and advocates passionately the importance of building communities through joyful and meaningful informal singing. Ms. Sharkova has conducted at prestigious venues such as New York City’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, Chicago Orchestra Hall, San Francisco Davies Hall, Washington DC Kennedy Center and others. Elena has conducted national, divisional and state honor choirs for American Choral Directors Association, National Association of Music Educators, Organization of American Kodàly Educators, and Association for Music in International Schools. Most recent engagements include TX, AL, NC, FL, WA, VA, ID and WV All-State High School Honor Choirs as well as Southwest ACDA Division College Honor Choir and All-Eastern Honor Choir. In 2015, Ms. Sharkova received the profession’s highest honor – conducting one the National Honor Choirs at the ACDA National Convention in Salt Lake City.

Prior to joining Cantabile, Elena Sharkova enjoyed twelve years of teaching in academic settings. At Western Michigan University, she was taught piano, voice, and choir, and, as Director of Choral Studies at San Jose State University, Elena taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in conducting, choral methods, ear training, and directed two choral ensembles.

Elena is a member of the World Choir Council, an international advisory board of Interkultur where she represents the U.S. As a soprano, Ms. Sharkova appears on five SonyClassical studio CDs by Lege Artis chamber choir (St. Petersburg, Russia).

Elena lives in San José with her wine-maker husband Tony and their fourteen-year old son Sasha who is in his tenth year of singing with Cantabile.