Russian-American conductor Elena Sharkova is recognized nationally and internationally as an inspirational, versatile, and effective conductor, choral clinician, music educator, and lecturer. She has conducted professional, university, youth, and community choirs and orchestras in 17 countries across North America, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Ms. Sharkova has served as a jury member at numerous national and international music festivals and competitions. An expert on Russian choral music, Elena has lectured extensively on its repertoire and performance practices and conducted several U.S. premiers of Russian contemporary compositions.
Elena Sharkova regularly appears with professional artists; some of most notable conducting engagements include Kronos Quartet, actor Ryan Gossling’s rock play “Deadman’s Bones,” and a spring 2012 series of performances with Grammy Award winning “orchestra of voices” male choir Chanticleer as one of the ensemble’s 2011-2012 Guest Music Directors.
As a soprano, Elena Sharkova has performed and recorded with one of Russia’s finest professional choirs Lege Artis and apprears on five studio CDs on SonyClassical label.
In her fourteenth year as Artistic 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 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.
Regarded for her passion for non-Western, cross-genre, and multi-cultural music, Ms. Sharkova and Chorale delighted South Bay audiences with performances of such folk-inspired compositions as Navidad Nuestra and Missa Criolla by Argentinean composer Ariel Ramirez, Caribbean Mass by contemporary American composer Glen McClure, and jazz-inspired Mass in Blue by English composer Will Todd.
Artistic Director of the 250-voice strong Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley since 2004, Elena Sharkova conducts CYS’s top performing and touring choirs, Vocalise and Ensemble, and oversees all educational and performance aspects of the program. Under her direction, Cantabile made solo appearance on the legendary stage of Carnegie Hall in 2005 and 2010 and toured Estonia, Finland, Russia, and England.
Elena Sharkova was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she received an undergraduate degree in music education and piano, and a graduate degree in conducting from St. Petersburg State Rimski-Korsakov Conservatory. From 1988 to 1993, Ms. Sharkova served as Chair of the Choral Department of the Preparatory Music School at the Conservatory where she conducted four children's choruses and taught the innovative Ogorodnov Method to graduate students.
In 1996 Ms. Sharkova received her second graduate degree in conducting from Western Michigan University where she studied with Dr. Craig Arnold.
Ms. Sharkova has had the privilege to serve as guest conductor of all-state, divisional, and national honor choirs for American Choral Directors Association, Music Educators National Conference, Organization of American Kodàly Educators, Association for Music in International Schools, Manhattan Concert Productions, Music Celebrations International, Distinguished Concerts International and Heritage Festivals of Gold.
Elena lives in San Jose with her wine-maker husband Tony Craig and their son Sasha.