Artistic & Managing Director, Conductor of Vocalise, Artistic Advisor to Aria
Russian-American conductor Elena Sharkova has been the Artistic Director of Cantabile since 2004 and assumed the role of Managing Director in 2018. Under her leadership, the organization has grown from 80 to over 250 singers, has toured Denmark, Sweden, Spain, England, Ireland, France, Russia, Estonia, Finland and Italy, performed at the American Choral Directors National (2019), Western Division (2016) and State (2018) Conferences, made two solo appearances on stage of Carnegie Hall, won gold medals at the 5th European Choir Games and the 2016 Golden State International Choral Trophy Competition, and released its first studio CD, Music Down in My Soul.
Native of St. Petersburg, Elena had culturally and artistically rich upbringing and received a rigorous professional training as a pianist since the age of six. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in music education and piano, and a graduate degree in conducting from the famed Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, alma materto Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Schostakovich, Prokofiev, and Balanchin.
Ms. Sharkova began her career as a professional choral singer in one of Russia’s premier choirs, Lege Artis, with whom she recorded for SonyClassical and toured extensively in Russia and Europe before moving to the U.S. in 1993 to pursue a career in conducting and academic teaching. She subsequently received her second conducting degree and served as music professor at Western Michigan University and later at San Jose State University until 2006.
Today, Elena Sharkova is recognized at the international choral scene as one of the profession’s leading experts on youth choral music education and a much sought-after guest conductor with a unique and inspiring voice. She has led professional, university, amateur, and youth choirs and orchestras and has taught masterclasses and summer courses in over twenty countries on four continents.
Elena’s recent conducting engagements have been with Britain’s foremost professional choir the BBC Singers in Glasgow and London, Miami-based GRAMMY-nominated Seraphic Fire,GRAMMY Award-winning men’s choir Chanticleer, Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, and the GRAMMY-nominated Houston Chamber Choir. She is in demand as a jury member at international choral competitions (10thInterkultur World Choir Games, 15thInternational Chamber Choir Competition Marktoberdorf, 26thMontreux Choral Competition, among others), and has been a guest conductor and clinician at over thirty national, all-state, regional and festival choirs around the world from the US to Japan, Qatar, and Australia. Ms. Sharkova has conducted on stages of Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco), Chicago Orchestra Hall, the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), the Mormon Tabernacle, and in world cultural landmarks such as the Vatican, Notre Dame de Paris, Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral and Sherborne Abbey, among others.
Since 2015 Elena has been a member of the World Choir Council, an international advisory board of Interkultur, where she represents the U.S.
As the Music Director of Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale since 1998, she has prepared over fifty major choral-orchestral works for distinguished conductors such as John Nelson, George Cleve, Carlos View, Jane Glover, Gregory Vajda, William Boughton, and many others. She often leads the orchestra, chorus, and soloists in programs of choral masterworks and conducts the annual Carols at the California family concert.
Ms. Sharkova served on music faculty of San Jose State University from 1998 to 2006 where she held the position of Director of Choral Activities, directed three choirs and taught classes in conducting, methods, and music theory. As soprano, Elena Sharkova can be heard on five SonyClassical studio CDs by Lege Artis Chamber Choir (St. Petersburg, Russia).