Exceptional Choral Events

Producing exceptional choral events with distinction since 2000.

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Join us for the next Youth Choir Festival Northwest! facebook

A festival for advanced youth choirs, under the direction of one of our nations leading vocal specialists,YouTube
taking place annually in one of the Pacific Northwest's finest concert venues.


Now accepting applications for
the 2015 Youth Choir Festival Northwest!

Fri-Sat, June 5-6, 2015
2014 Guest Conductor: Elena Sharkova
Lagerquist Concert Hall
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA

Contact Stephanie for more information or  to register:
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*6-4-14 Update: Our online forms are not currently working.  If you applied online, please contact us to make sure we have received it.  Thank you!

Youth Choir Festival Northwest is open to all auditioned, advanced choirs (grades 6 through age 20).  We have separate tracks for treble (SSA/SSAA) and mixed (SAB/SATB) voicing.  Childrens choirs, youth choirs, middle school and high school choirs, community and church choirs are invited to join us!

2015 Festival Fee: $195 per participant (singer, chaperone, director) - covers rehearsals, concert, lodging, three meals, snacks, evening social and festival t-shirt.

All festival activities will be held on the beautiful campus of Pacific Lutheran University, centrally located in Puget Sound.  Festival rehearsals and concert take place in the exquisite Lagerquist Concert Hall housed in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center - an architectural and aesthetic jewel carefully set amid majestic trees.  Participants stay overnight in the college dormitories near the music building (double occupancy).  Linens are provided.  Pacific Lutheran University is located in Tacoma, WA - a short drive from Seattle, WA and surrounding areas. 

Youth Choir Festival Northwest is purposefully designed as a non-competitive festival.  The goal is to serve as a musical sharing and exchange - connecting choirs from around the United States, Canada and abroad.  Each choir comes prepared with their own set of music to share in the final concert in addition to learning four massed choir selections that will be rehearsed with the Festival Guest Conductor. 

Youth Choir Festival Northwest is presented by Exceptional Choral Events, which has a 14-year track record of excellence running the Fort Worden Children's Choir Festival.

2015 Festival Guest Conductor: Elena Sharkova

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 coutries 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 regurlarly appears with professional artists; some of most notable conducting engagements include Kronos Quartet, actor Ryan Gossling’s rock play “Deadman’s Bones,” and 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 a 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.


2013 Guest Conductor: ANDRÉ J. THOMAS, the Owen F. Sellers Professor of Music, is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Choral Music Education at Florida State University. A previous faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin, Dr. Thomas received his degrees from Friends University (B.A.), Northwestern University (M. M.), and the University of Illinois (D.M.A). He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Dr. Thomas has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive. They include conductor/clinician for the International Federation of Choral Musicians, summer residency of the World Youth Choir in the Republic of China and the Philippines, winter residency of the World Youth Choir in Europe, and a premier performance by an American choir (Florida State University Singers) in Vietnam. He has been the guest conductor of such distinguished orchestras and choirs as the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England, guest Conductor for the Berlin Radio Choir in Germany, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the Charlotte Symphony, Tallahassee Symphony, China’s People’s Liberation Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.  Since 1988, he has also served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus.

Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. Hinshaw Music Company, Mark Foster Music Company, Fitzsimons Music Company, Lawson Gould, Earthsongs, Choristers Guild, and Heritage Music Company publish his compositions and arrangements.

Dr. Thomas has produced two instructional videos "What They See Is What You Get" on choral conducting, with Rodney Eichenberger, and "Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice" on adolescent voices, with Anton Armstrong. His recent book "Way Over in Beulah Lan’. Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual" has quickly become a major source in this area of study.  The African Diaspora Sacred Music honored Dr. Thomas as a Living Legend.

In 2011, Thomas’ dedication to and accomplishments in the choral arts were recognized by his peers in Chorus America, when that organization presented Dr. Thomas with its Distinguished Service Award. He is a past president of the Florida ACDA, and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA.


AndrewFestival Accompanist: DR. ANDREW SEIFERT is pleased to serve Exceptional Choral Events as Festival Accompanist for both the Fort Worden Children's Choir Festival and Youth Choir Festival Northwest.  In demand as a pianist, conductor, theatrical director, and educator, Seifert holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Chapman University (Orange, CA) and a Master of Music degree and Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA).  As a pianist, Seifert is currently in his sixth season as Lead Accompanist for the Northwest Girlchoir (Seattle, WA), playing primarily for the advanced choirs (Amore and Ensemble), but also serving the entire organization as a vocal, theory, and foreign language coach and resident musical arranger.  He has joined the Northwest Girlchoir, now in its 40th year, in all of Seattle's major concert venues as well as those throughout the Northwest and in Australia, Finland, and Estonia.  Equally happy sharing the stage with professional and amateur musicians, he enjoys collaborating with singers and instrumentalists of all levels during recital appearances, theatrical events, competitions, and educational workshops.  As an educator, Seifert has been honored to return to both of his alumnus universities:  as a visiting professor of conducting and guest conductor of the University Singers at Chapman University and as a guest lecturer for the opera workshop at the University of Washington.  He has also taught music theory and is a proponent of student compositions and the performance of lesser-known works.  Seifert began his operatic directing career with four seasons at the Jarvis Conservatory (Napa, CA), the only professional Spanish operetta theater in the United States.  He has directed numerous productions for Northwest universities and colleges and professional companies in the United States and abroad.  Recent productions include Pucinni's La Bohème at the Teatro Bramante (Urbania, Italy), Copland's The Tender Land for the inaugural season of Vashon Opera (Vashon Island, WA), and the world premiere of Seattle-based composer Gloria Swisher's Poker Alice.  Seifert also currently serves as Director of Music, overseeing eight diverse musical ensembles, at St. Thomas More Parish in Lynnwood, WA.


Have additional questions? 
Contact Stephanie Charbonneau.
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