ViolinYear joined: 2018
Violinist, ballerina and businesswoman Sharyl Leifeld studied classical ballet with the celebrated performer and teacher Stanley Hall, who had partnered with Margot Fonteyn at London‘s Royal Ballet. As a principal dancer for 10 years, Sharyl performed with leading German ballet companies including the Cologne Ballet, where she worked with Gise Furtwangler, pre–eminent German choreographer and niece of the famous conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. Sharyl danced classical ballets, musicals and opera productions, with performances up to five days a week.
In her youth, Sharyl had studied piano for 12 years, and from 1970 she was associated with classical orchestras in Europe in various capacities, including five years marketing classical chamber ensembles in Germany and Benelux countries. She retired to Fort Myers with her late husband Klaus several years ago. She is a member of the League of American Orchestras and has served as an officer and director of seven nonprofit associations in Lee and Collier Counties, focusing on arts, music, adult and youth education, health and business.
Since 2014, Sharyl has studied violin with Reiko Niiya, longtime concertmaster of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and she performs with the Florida Southwestern State College Orchestra. Sharyl played with the Naples Orchestra and Chorus from 2015-2018, where she also served as a board member and director of communications. In 2018, Sharyl joined the Gulf Coast Symphony, for which her sister Stacey is principal bassoonist.
Following her time as a ballerina, Sharyl completed a German Business Degree (MBA equivalent), majoring in marketing and accounting. She thus moved from the Government-sponsored German theater system –where each major theater employed more than a thousand artists and administrators at venues with multiple stages for opera, ballet, theater and 100+ piece symphony orchestras– to international trade-show productions in major European cities.
To that end, Sharyl founded a marketing company in Dusseldorf, and for five years produced international trade fairs and conferences that attracted exhibitors and visitors from 55 countries. She then was recruited as European Marketing Director for Blenheim in London with 250 events worldwide. She oversaw all Information Technology events in Europe including “Airport”, the flagship platform for the airport industry held in Frankfurt and Atlanta. After that, she became CEO of the German subsidiary of Ziff Publishing, a leader in Information Technology. And she was the first female director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany.