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Elena CholakovaDirector of Piano StudiesAssociate Teaching Professor of Piano

Bulgarian pianist Elena Cholakova regularly performs in important musical venues in Eastern and Western Europe, South America and the United States. She has given solo recitals at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary, U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, Bulgaria Hall and Sofia Conservatory in Sofia, Bulgaria, Aosta Concert Hall in Aosta, Italy, Fellbach Musicschulle in Fellbach, Germany, Fazioli Salon in Chicago, IL, and more. She has toured the south-east United States as a member of the American Chamber Music Society. Her performances have been broadcasted live on NPR, Atlanta's - WABE, Chicago's classical music radio station WFMT, Bulgarian TV and radio stations.

Cholakova recently performed at the acclaimed Musikverein in Vienna as well as Bulgaria’s premier international chamber music festival Balabanov’s House Music Days, and in Bogota, Columbia with violinist Anyango Yarbo-Davenport. Recognizing the impact of the pandemic on women’s careers in the arts, Cholakova has commissioned an album of all new music written by female identifying composers. The project unfolds as series of collaborations and culminating in a recording of the pieces being commissioned.

Other notable collaborations include Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring” with conductor Robert Spano in a multi-media production hailed as “one of the most important collaborations of the year". As a member of the Atlanta Chamber Players, Cholakova has appeared in the International Chamber Music Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has regularly performed in Atlanta's premier Spivey Hall, and has premiered commissioned works by leading American composers. Cholakova has been featured in the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival in North Carolina, the International Days of Music Festival in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the Sofia Musical Evenings Festival in Sofia and more.

During the summer, Dr. Cholakova serves on the faculty of the Interharmony Music Festival in Italy and the Prague Piano Festival in the Czech Republic and Solinaria Music Festival in Bulgaria. Elena Cholakova is a recipient of Rislov Foundation Scholarship of the University of Michigan, awarded to musicians nationwide, for their high achievements in the field of music. Dr. Cholakova is also a recipient of the Vaughan Williams Foundation grant of the United Kingdom supporting contemporary music written by composers in UK.

Specializing in Chopin's Preludes, Op.28, she presented a lecture recital at the 3rd World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia focusing on the different editions of the piece. A dedicated educator, Cholakova holds a special interest in teaching. Her students have won top prizes at numerous national and international competitions.

Dr. Cholakova holds a Doctor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance from Northwestern University. She serves as Director of Piano Studies at Emory University and Director of the Emory Young Artist Piano Competition.