Russian-American conductor Elena Sharkova is recognized nationally and internationally as an inspirational and versatile conductor, clinician, music educator, and lecturer. She has conducted professional, university, youth, and community choirs and orchestras in seventeen countries across North America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, and has served as jury member at national and international music festivals and competitions.
Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Ms. Sharkova holds graduate degrees in conducting from the St. Petersburg Rimski-Korsakov State Conservatory and Western Michigan University where she studied with Dr. Craig Arnold. She held the position of Director of Preparatory Choral Department at the Conservatory before moving to the US in 1993. From 1999 to 2006 Ms. Sharkova served on the music faculty at San Jose State University.
As Artistic Director of Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley since 2004, Ms. Sharkova oversees all educational and performance aspects of the program that now serves over 300 children ages 4 to 18 and directs two top choirs Vocalise and Aria. Under Ms. Sharkova’s direction, Cantabile touring choirs made solo appearances on the legendary stages of Carnegie Hall and Chicago Orchestra Hall and toured Estonia, Finland, Russia, England, Italy, and Canada.
In her seventeenth year as Music Director of Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale, Elena Sharkova has prepared and conducted the chorus in over 40 major choral-orchestral works such as Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Serenade to Music and Five Mystical Songs, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, Brahms German Requiem and Nanie, Bruckner’s Te Deum, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and many others. Under Sharkova’s direction, Chorale presented complete performances of the monumental masterpiece of Russian liturgical music – Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil in 2008, and in 2011 premiered the new edition of Ippolitov-Ivanov’s All-Night Vigil, op. 43.
Elena Sharkova regularly appears with professional artists. In 2014, she served as guest music director for the with Grammy Award winning “Orchestra of Voices” Chanticleer in a genre- and time—spanning program entitled Russian Dreams that featured folk, spiritual, secular, and urban vocal heritage of the nation. Ms. Sharkova’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. premieres of Russian contemporary compositions. Since 2013, she has been serving as the editor for “Elena Sharkova Choral Series” with Carl Fischer Music Publishing. The series focus on 20th and 21st century Russian choral music for treble and mixed voices.
One of the nation’s busiest choral clinicians and festival conductors, Elena Sharkova has conducted state, divisional, and national 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 and upcoming engagements include Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Washington and Virginia All-State High School Honor Choirs as well as South West ACDA Division College Honor Choir and All-Eastern Honor Choir. Ms. Sharkova is looking forward to the profession’s highest honor – conducting one the National Honor Choirs at the 2015 ACDA National Convention in Salt Lake City.
As a soprano, Elena Sharkova has performed and recorded with Lege Artis, one of Russia’s finest professional choirs, and appears on five studio CDs on SonyClassical label.