Artistic Staff
Cantabile’s artistic staff is comprised of highly-credentialed and qualified music instructors, led by internationally recognized conductor Elena Sharkova, who has been Artistic Director of Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley since 2004. 
 



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Cassie Luftspring
, Director of Musicianship Curriculum and Musicianship Instructor (Intermediate, Ensemble, Vocalise)

Conductor, Prep 3
Conductor, Intermediate 
Conductor, Ensemble 
Accompanist, Vocalise

Master of Music in Choral Conducting, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Bachelor of Music in Piano and Composition, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Cassie Luftspring is thrilled to be joining the fantastic teaching team of Cantabile and is looking forward to getting to know the singers and their families. Ms. Luftspring is a conductor, pianist, singer, composer, and music teacher from Toronto, Canada. She began her tenure with Cantabile as the accompanist on our July 2013 tour to Newfoundland for Festival 500, and is excited about her first season.

Cassie's experiences as a young chorister with the famous Toronto Children's Chorus instilled in her a passion for ensemble singing and inspired her to pursue a career in the choral arts. Before coming to the U.S., Cassie held conducting positions with the Cantabile Choirs of Kingston, the University of Toronto Women's Chamber Choir, the Toronto Children's Chorus, and most recently the Mississauga Festival Youth Choir where she was the Assistant Artistic Director. She also founded and directed the a cappella group Momentum. Cassie has worked as an accompanist for the University of Toronto Men's Chorus, the Kingston Chamber Choir, the Kingston Choral Society, the Queen's Conservatory of Music, and with many individual vocalists.

As a teacher of piano, voice, composition, and theory, Cassie has worked for the Kingston School of Music, the Contemporary Conservatory of Music and Arts, and Featherstone Music. She has also maintained a private teaching studio, preparing students for Royal Conservatory of Music theory examinations.

Cassie also enjoys composing music – particularly choral works. She has received commissions from many organizations including the Toronto Children's Chorus and the Amadeus Choir, and is the winner of seven consecutive first place awards in the Amadeus Choir's Carol Composition Competition. Her works have been performed by the Elmer Iseler Singers and the DaCapo Chamber Choir, among others.

While a student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Cassie studied piano, composition, voice, and organ and received numerous awards including the Medal in Music for highest academic standing. She then completed a Master of Music Performance degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Toronto, receiving an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, a SSHRC Award, and a U of T Fellowship in Music for her graduate work.

 

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Jina Han
, Director of Preparatory Division
Conductor, Prep 1 and Prep 2
Accompanist, Prep 3

Master of Art in Choral Conducting, San Jose State University
Bachelor of Music, University of California

Jina Han is a passionate music educator and conductor who desires to share the beauty of music with the community. She studied choral conducting at San Jose State University under Dr. Jeffrey Benson. Alongside, she conducted college professional choirs including Choraliars, Concert Choir and Women’s Chorus. From 2008-2012, Ms. Jina directed God’s Image Ministry Choir in San Francisco which consisted of three different choirs aged 4-9, 10-14, and 15-18.

Ms. Jina is a certified Kindermusik educator and has taught toddlers, preschoolers and young children for the past five years. She demonstrated knowledge of Kodaly and Orff methodology, oversaw performances, and welcomed parents into a learning setting to develop their bond with their children. With the main emphasis on piano during her undergraduate study at the University of California, Ms. Jina studied voice intensively during her graduate study with Krassen Karagiozov, a member of Opera San Jose. She has participated in a church choir since a young age and has sung throughout her life. Ms. Jina has been teaching voice and piano to children and adults at local private studios in the San Jose area for numerous years.

Ms. Jina lives with her husband, Billy who works in the pharmaceutical industry. They met at church and love to go abroad on missionary work and help people. She enjoys snorkeling, snowboarding, and skydiving.



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Natalie Einhorn
, Conductor, Prep 3

Master of Music, Vocal Performance, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Bachelor of Arts, University of California, Santa Cruz

Natalie Einhorn is thrilled to be returning to Cantabile for the third season. She has a deep passion for guiding young children through the world of music and choral singing. She uses an interactive, full body approach to teaching singing and musicianship. Her classes are filled with songs, creative movement, drama, and story telling.

In addition to Cantabile, Ms. Einhorn is the Music and Performing Arts department chair at Synapse School, K-8th grade, in Menlo Park. Previously, she taught Pre-K through 5th grade general music and the 2nd through 5th grade choirs for six years at the Nueva School, in Hillsborough. There she founded the Nueva Chamber Singers, a small ensemble of 3rd through 8th graders, and The Staves, a singing group of dedicated teachers, parents, and staff members. These groups sang at school functions, and throughout the greater Hillsborough community. Additionally, Ms. Einhorn was a founding member of the faculty at Helios New School for Gifted Children in Palo Alto, where she taught for three years.

Natalie has been singing in choirs since childhood and that experience has had a profound impact on her life. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Cruz and a Master's Degree in Vocal Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Ms. Einhorn has also completed the three levels of Orff Schulwerk training at Mills College.

Natalie now lives in Half Moon Bay with her loving husband and two children, ages 7 and 4.



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Michael Sohn, Musicianship Instructor
 
Michael is a Cantabile alumnus (class of 2007). He is delighted to have been a part of Cantabile for most of his life as a singer, and also as the advanced musicianship instructor. He has also served on the Board of Directors as the Alumni representative. 
Michael is a graduate of Homestead High school and has attended Santa Clara University as its first conducting major. He has apprenticed under Thomas Colohan (now the artistic director of the Washington Master Chorale), and Maestra Sharkova. 
Outside of Cantabile, Michael enjoys writing. He has written several modern classical piano pieces, and arranged vocal pieces. He is also working on a fantasy novel, and is the webmaster and editor for various websites.



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David Belles
, Conductor, Bravi Young Men's Ensemble, Assistant Conductor, Intermediate Honors

Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, California State University East Bay, Summa Cum Laude

This is David Belles' second season working with Cantabile's artistic team and the young men of Vocalise and Ensemble. General music teacher and choral director at Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, David teaches music and singing to all students of the school, K-7th grade.

Since the beginning of his tenure in 2009, he has built the extra-curricular choral program from twenty students to one-hundred forty-five students, with the middle school choir involving over one-third of all 6th-8th grade students at the school. Under David's direction, Bullis' 4th-6th grade choir received Unanimous Superior rankings in the 2011 and 2012 California Music Educators Association Choral Festivals.

From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Belles served as an assistant conductor and accompanist to ECCO, a premier choral ensemble of the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir. As a freelance accompanist and musical theatre coach, David has worked with numerous choirs, soloists and theatre groups. His interests include world history, baseball, family outings and, of course, theatre.


 

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Simona Snitkovskaya, Accompanist, Ensemble and Intermediate
 
 Simona posseses a vast array of experience of playing piano and coaching both here in the Bay Area, and also in her home town of St. Petersburg, Russia. Simona studied for her Bachelor of Musical Arts in Piano at St. Petersburg Music College and went on to complete her Masters of Musical Arts in Piano and Postgraduate Studies in Piano and Chamber Music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After serving as the Staff Pianist and Principal Coach at St. Petersburg Conservatory and Mariinsky Theater for 10 years, Simona moved to Silicon Valley and and pursued her career as an accompanist and piano instructor. She first worked with Maestra Elena in 2002 as the rehearsal pianist to San Jose State University Concert Choir during their Spring tour of Southern California. Since then Simona has worked with Opera San Jose, coaching the vocal artists and accompanying them during such performances as Cosi fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, La Boheme and La Cenerentola among many more. In 2013 she once again coached the students of San Jose State University for their performance of The Marriage of Figaro. Also a performer, throughout her career Simona has given recitals and concerts in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Munich and in the Bay Area in San Francisco and in Palo Alto at the Annual Jewish Community Center Concert with Opera San Jose. Alongside her work as an accompanist and professional coach, Simona has a private studio where she teaches piano and voice lessons. 

 




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Jazmine Harnishfeger-Brand, Conductor, Prep 1

Master of Arts, Psychology, University of Santa Monica Bachelor of Arts, Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California

Ms. Harnishfeger-Brand is honored and excited to join the Cantabile Artistic Staff this year! Jazmine began her musical studies with piano lessons at age four. She was extensively involved with school music programs throughout her education. While attending Long Beach Polytechnic High School (a Grammy Signature Gold School), she extensively performed with a diverse group of ensembles and instruments (including Harpsichord, Baritone Saxophone, Classical and Jazz Piano, Mallet Percussion and French Horn). She also studied theory and composition with Faculty from the Bob Cole Conservatory at the University of California Long Beach. Upon graduation, she was honored with the Pursuit of Excellence award for outstanding leadership, excellence and dedication in the area of music. While studying at the USC Thornton School of Music, Jazmine studied jazz piano and voice, classical voice, and composition. She performed with the USC Concert Choir and the Thornton Choral Artists, and served as the President of the Concert Choir. She also taught extensively with the Thornton JazzReach Program, including teaching private lessons, general music, and directing Jazz Choirs in the Los Angeles area. During her Graduate studies, Jazmine concentrated on Music Education, specializing in General Music and Choral Music. Previously, she served as the Director of Instrumental Music at Mountain View High School in El Monte, CA where she created an elite-level Wind Ensemble, which specialized in advanced and contemporary literature. Furthermore, she has served as the Director for the First Christian Church of Orange’s Children's Choir, and Youth Choir for five years. There, she focused on cultivating comprehensive musicianship with the Children’s Choir, and developing vocal and musical excellence with the Youth Choir. Ms. Harnishfeger-Brand lives in San Jose with her husband and two cats. When not engaged in a musical endeavor, Jazmine can be found volunteering at the 13th Street Cat Shelter, cooking, or baking.