art by jaron legrair
Shara L. Cocchiola
Executive Artistic Director
Mrs. Shara L. Cocchiola holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and pursued her Masters in Music Performance at the University of South Florida. She has had extensive training music education emphasizing the Kodály Method and Orff Schulwerk as well as choral and instrumental performing and directing. Mrs. Cocchiola began her vocal training in early childhood, has been a choral conductor and music director in public, private and community programs since 1994. She has served as a clinician, guest artist, vocalist and instrumentalist in many professional, community and educational works. She studied conducting under Dr. Mallory Thompson and Dr. William Weidrich and has performed on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York as well as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington D.C. In addition to being a trained vocalist, educator and conductor, Shara is a professional flutist having studied with Dr. Kim McCormick, Martha Rearick, Marilyn Froelich, and Mark Castellano, playing principal flute with the Tampa Bay Symphony under Dr. Jack Heller. Mrs. Cocchiola is passionate and dedicated to providing quality music education and performance experiences for all ages. This is evidenced in the exceptional programs she creates and implements. Shara's “no child turned away” policy in the Children’s Choir Program took place in 2015 and has proved an imperative measure in providing services to students who otherwise may not be able to participate in SCS’s musical programs. Shara served as technology lead in Hillsborough County, FL where she implemented innovative programs county-wide in the music education department, engaging thousands of inner-city Tampa children in musical arts before moving to Ohio. Shara is engaged throughout the greater Akron community and serves on the Kent State University Academy Advisory Board for the Vocal Pathway at Firestone High School, as partner with the College and Career Academies Program with Akron Public Schools / United Way and on The University of Akron Arts Advancement Council. She proudly serves as a precinct election official in portage county. Shara is excited to be a recent graduate representing Summit Choral Society in Leadership Akron’s Signature Program, Class 37!
Heather J. Cooper
Principal Conductor, Performance Choir Director
Heather Cooper is Principal Conductor of Summit Choral Society, where she directs the flagship children’s ensemble, Performance Choir. The choir has performed locally with the Canton Symphony and Akron Symphony in performances of Carmina Burana by Orff, Elijah by Mendelssohn, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Mendelssohn. Heather has conducted choral ensembles at some of the most famous venues in the country, including Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Grand Ole Opry. The choir was invited to perform at the 2019 national conference of the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, as well as singing at the Ohio Choral Directors Conference in 2017.
Heather currently serves as Interim Organist and Director of Children’s Choir and Handbells at Christ Presbyterian Church in downtown Canton, where her responsibilities include providing music for worship as well as organizing the annual concert series. She previously served churches in North Canton and Kent.
She frequently performs as keyboardist with the Canton Symphony Orchestra. She recently appeared as featured organ soloist on the CSO Masterworks series, presenting Guilmant’s Symphony No. 1 in D minor for Organ and Orchestra, the famous Widor “Toccata”, as well as the beloved “Organ” Symphony No. 3 of Saint-Saëns. She previously served as accompanist for the CSO Chorus for several years.
Heather holds Bachelor of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Choral Music Education from the University of South Carolina. Her Master of Music degree is in Music Education with an emphasis on the Kodaly teaching philosophy from Capital University. Heather spent sixteen years as an elementary and middle school music teacher in both public and private settings in South Carolina and Ohio. Along with her husband, Britt, they are the proud parents of two children, both singers in Summit Choral Society.