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About Us

What We Do

Cantabile Youth Singers brings world-class artistic excellence in vocal music instruction to the youth of Silicon Valley by creating a supportive, enriching choral community for all, fostering the innate beauty, talent, and individual freedom of expression within each singer, and engaging them in performances of the highest caliber.

Our Community

Artists. Scholars. Leaders. Friends. These four words are at the center of our program, which allows students of all genders to make lifelong friends from their earliest days in Cantabile. Watch the video to the right to hear our students speak passionately about this musical community, answering the question, "What is your favorite thing about Cantabile?"

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Background

Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley is an internationally recognized choral program providing world-class music education, vocal training, and performance opportunities to Silicon Valley communities with rehearsal locations in Los Altos, California. Cantabile was founded in 1994 by local music educator Signe Boyer and has grown under the leadership of Artistic Director Elena Sharkova since 2004. Cantabile (kahn / TAH / bee / lay) is an Italian word, translated as “singable” or “song-like.” In a musical context, it refers to a smooth, flowing, and melodious style. 

Through participation in weekly rehearsals, vocal masterclasses, seasonal concerts, recitals, festivals, recordings and touring, more than 200 singers ages 4 to 18 engage their  hearts, minds, and voices in joyful, creative learning that fosters such life skills as community  building, arts appreciation and advocacy, pursuit of excellence, self-discipline, leadership,  and teamwork. 

Cantabile’s unique and innovative music curriculum includes:

  • Orff and Kodály techniques and advanced musicianship training

  • Vocal technique instruction, performing music from diverse world cultures

  • Mindfulness, yoga, and creative movement

  • Improvisation, focus on self-realization, and compassion

  • An appreciation for the diversity of humankind, cultures, languages, and the arts. 

  • Leadership training by internationally renowned Cantabile artistic staff

 

Open to all children who love to sing, Cantabile offers progressive levels of vocal, musical theory and performance challenge. Singers are organized into seven performing choirs and two levels of preparatory classes, based on age and skill. Since the 2013-14 Season, the Young Men’s Division provides training, concert opportunities, and camaraderie for boys with changing and changed voices. The division is led by Associate Artistic Director, Jace Wittig.

Cantabile’s choirs appear annually with leading San Francisco Bay Area arts organizations  such as: Symphony Silicon Valley, Cappella SF, GAUDE, Stanford Symphony and Chorale,  San Jose Ballet, Opera San Jose, and West Bay Area Opera and performed with the Kronos Quartet, GRAMMY-nominated professional chorus Conspirare, visual artist Nene Humphrey, multi- instrumentalist Laura Inserra and actor Ryan Gosling, among others. 

Nationally and internationally recognized for innovative and moving concert programs,  Cantabile’s advanced choir Vocalise has been chosen to perform at these prestigious professional forums:

  • XI World Symposium on Choral Music (Barcelona, 2017)

  • American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) National Convention (Kansas City, MO, 2019)

  • Western Division ACDA Conference (Los Angeles, 2016)

  • California State ACDA Convention (San Jose, 2018)

 

Committed to promoting new choral music for young voices, Cantabile established its New Music Commission Fund in 2014 and has since engaged composers Jocelyn Hagen, Will Todd, Tim Sharp, Andrea Ramsey, Sarah Quartel, Stephen Hatfield, Eric Tuan, and Tom Shelton,  among others. 

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Curriculum

  • Unique curriculum combines Orff and Kodály music education principles 

  • Advanced vocal training of the highest level

  • Training principals fuse music, movement and mindfulness 

  • Concert programs ranging from classical to adventurous contemporary, folk, gospel, world music, and more

  • Joyful rehearsals and performances foster deep engagement of body, mind and spirit

  • Strong connection to the San Francisco Bay Area arts community

  • Annual national and international performance touring 

  • Professional recordings, competitions and guest performances at professional choral forums around the world

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Mission & Impact

Mission Statement

 

Cantabile Youth Singers brings world-class artistic excellence in vocal music instruction to the youth of Silicon Valley by creating a supportive, enriching choral community for all, fostering the innate beauty, talent, and individual freedom of expression within each singer, and engaging them in performances of the highest caliber.

 

Our Values

Joy: Singing is a shared experience that lifts the spirits of everyone in the room. We prioritize joy and wellbeing in teaching, performing, and event. 

Artistry: Based on centuries-old choral tradition and one of leading innovators in the field, Cantabile prepares students for artistic excellence at every level of training, and offers frequent opportunities to engage with musicians and artists of the highest caliber. 

 

Education: We believe in utilizing Orff and Kodály principles to teach advanced musicianship skills; building appreciation for arts, humanities, and cultures of the world; and deepening interdisciplinary critical thinking abilities.

 

Leadership: Cantabile’s Leadership Academy offers hands-on experience through a well-managed training program that enables students to lead their peers, mentor younger Cantabile students, assist their instructors, and reach out to the collegiate and professional choral communities.

 

Community: Singers form lifelong friendships in our choirs, build networks that serve them well into their working lives, and receive ample opportunities to engage with the worldwide choral community through annual collaborations and tours.

Inclusivity: We believe in the value of every human life, and we reject any form of racism or discrimination. We stand with singers of every race, creed, gender identity, and economic background. Cantabile singers reflect the diverse community around us, and we view our diversity as a wealth of shared experience upon which to build empathy and appreciation for others. Cantabile regularly performs music that directly addresses relevant issues of social justice, and empowers young people to engage in musical activism, leading with the notion that “people who make music together cannot be enemies.”

Impact

 

There is ample evidence that singing in a choir is a positive developmental experience for children. Choral singing and its older progenitors – tribal singing, group rituals, and religious chanting – are cornerstones of the human experience through time. Group singing helps children learn valuable skills of cooperation, teamwork, self-esteem and a sense of self in the larger context of community. Their individual skills and talents are acknowledged as contributing to an effort that is bigger than themselves, which prepares them to be active and engaged world citizens and community leaders who focus on the greater good. 

Performing teaches young people the value of their talents, and presents an opportunity to unite family and friends in the appreciation of music. This experience of the collective is revolutionary in a time when the movement of education and social media is toward individualism. Cantabile creates community around beauty, art, and interpersonal connection; allowing children to participate in this larger context, and to grow as members of a worldwide choral community.

History

2020/2021:
  • Alpha-test partnership with JackTrip Foundation to create “Virtual Studio,” allowing real-time virtual rehearsals

  • “Dear World” Project with Cincinnati Youth Choir

  • Commission: “After the Rain” - Sarah Quartel

  • Children’s Discovery Museum Virtual Gala Performance (San Jose, CA)

  • First fully virtual concerts and gala

 

2019/2020: 
  • ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming

  • 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee Gala

  • Chosen to perform at 2020 World Symposium on Choral Music* (Auckland, New Zealand)

  • Commission: We Are the Garden - Jocelyn Hagen (multi-movement work for choir and instruments, premiere date TBD)
    (*postponed or cancelled due to pandemic)

 

2018/2019: 
  • ACDA National Conference mainstage performances (Kansas City, MO)

  • Perform America’s Hawaiian Choral Festival (Honolulu, HI)

  • Collaboration with Conspirare: Considering Matthew Shepard - Craig Hella Johnson, conductor & composer - Bing Concert Hall (Stanford, CA)

  • Sweden & Denmark Tour

  • Gold Medal - Top Level at Interkultur’s 2019 European Choir Games (Gothenburg, Sweden)

  • Silver Diploma at Interkultur’s 2019 European Choir Games (Gothenburg, Sweden)

  • Commission: “From the Window of Despair” - Eric Tuan

 

2017/2018: 
  • ACDA California State Convention Mainstage Performance (San Jose, CA)

  • Carnegie Hall Performances (New York, NY)

  • “Anime: Music of Studio Ghibli” with Symphony Silicon Valley - Joe Hisaishi, conductor & composer (San Jose, CA)

 

2016/2017: 
  • XI World Symposium on Choral Music and Catalonia Tour (Barcelona, Spain)

  • Crescent City Choral Festival (New Orleans, LA)

  • Mozart Requiem & Palmeri Misa Tango with Symphony Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA)

  • Gold Medal & Conductor’s Prize at Interkultur’s Golden State Choral Trophy Competition (Monterey, CA)

  • Carmina Burana with Santa Clara Chorale (Santa Clara, CA)

  • Holiday Extravaganza concert with Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (Palo Alto, CA)

 

2015/2016:
  • ACDA Western Division Conference mainstage performance (Pasadena, CA)

  • Faure Requiem with Symphony Silicon Valley (San Jose, CA)

  • Concert Tour to Ireland (Dublin & Galway) and France, performance in Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris)

 

2014/2015: 
  • Gustav Holst’s The Planets with Stanford Symphony Orchestra at Bing Concert Hall - Jin Dong Cai, Conductor (Stanford, CA)

  • Lord of the Rings Live Soundtrack - West Coast Premier with Symphony Silicon Valley & Chorale (San Jose, CA)

  • Carnegie Hall Performance (New York, NY)

 

2013/2014: 
  • “Passion of Italy” Tour, appearance at St. Peter’s Basilica (Rome & Padua, Italy)

  • “Everything That Happens” Experimental Music collaboration with Roberto Lange (composer) & Nene Humphrey - Montalvo Arts Center (Saratoga, CA)

  • Monteverdi 1610 Vespers with Dr. Craig Jessop, conductor - Stanford Memorial Church (Stanford, CA)

  • Carmina Burana with Symphony Silicon Valley & Chorale - Carlos Vieu, conductor (San Jose, CA)

  • Festival500 Performances and workshops (Newfoundland, Canada)

 

2011/2012:
  • Tour to UK (London, England)

  • Tour to Chicago

  • Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Bluegrass Meets Choral with Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale (San Jose, CA)

 

2009/2010: 
  • “Dead Man’s Bones” rock opera with Ryan Gosling (San Francisco, CA)

  • Carnegie Hall Performance (New York, NY)

  • Collaboration with Kronos Quartet (Stanford, CA)

 

2008: 
  • Baltic Tour, Tallinn SongFest with 25,000 international youth choral singers (Tallinn, Estonia), Church of the Rock (Helsinki, Finland), Russian concerts (St. Petersburg, Russia)

  • Official founding as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to youth music programs

 

2005: 
  • Carnegie Hall debut: National Children’s Choral Festival - Elena Sharkova, conductor (New York, NY)

 

2004: 
  • Signe Boyer (founder) steps down

  • Elena Sharkova named Artistic Director

 

2003: 
  • Premier of Sisters with Mission Chamber Orchestra - Craig Bohmler, composer

  • Tour to Salzburg, Vienna, and Budapest: Performances with Vienna Boys Choir

 

2002: 
  • Founding Director Signe Boyer presents a workshop at the California Music Educators' Association Conference.

 

2000: 
  • Tuscany International Children’s Choir Festival - Henry Leck, conductor (Florence, Italy)

 

1994 - 1998:
  • Choral exchange with Farnham Youth Choir, tour to U.K. (Bath, England)

  • Bach Passion of St. Matthew with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

  • Mollicone A Rat’s Tale: The Pied Piper Revisited

  • Tour to Disneyland

  • First commission: Requiem for Lost Children - Sondra Clark, composer

  • Cantabile Children’s Choir is Founded by Signe Boyer in 1994

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Awards & Honors

Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming | April 2020

The Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming recognizes member choruses that demonstrate a commitment to fostering and promoting new music.

 

European Choir Games & Grand Prix of Nations: Gold Medal Top Level - Youth Chorus Category

July 2019  | Gothenburg, Sweden

 

European Choir Games & Grand Prix of Nations: Silver Diploma - Gospel & Songs of Faith Category

July 2019 | Gothenburg, Sweden

ACDA National Conference Mainstage Performances

February 2019 | Kansas City, MO

ACDA California State Convention Mainstage Performances

February 2018 | San Jose, CA

XI World Symposium on Choral Music

July 2017 | Barcelona, Spain

ACDA Western Division Convention Mainstage Performances

March 2017 | Pasadena, CA

 

Golden State Choral Trophy Competition: Gold Medal & Conductor’s Prize

November  2016 | Monterey, CA