Concerts, Covid and Comfort

Schedule a Placement Interview TODAY!

Founded in 1993 and comprised of treble singers, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus has developed an international reputation for performing diversified choral repertoire at the highest standard of musical excellence and style.

Hear the choristers in concert!

Sunday, November 21, 2021
4:00 PM
Holy Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church
604 4th St., Catasauqua, PA 18032

Free will offering!

Masks and proof of vaccination are required for all attendees.

Friday, December 3, 2021
6:30-7:30 PM
Historic Downtown Bethlehem

Join us for caroling through the
Christmas City Village.


Sunday, December 5, 2021
Bel Canto Winter Concert
4:00 PM

St. John Evangelical Windish Church
617 E. 4th St., Bethlehem, PA
Tickets available here.

Join us in January!!

Opportunities for all choirs (ages 8-17)

We are currently seeking singers who thrive on taking a “deep dive” into the music they are singing, including historical context, relevance to contemporary issues, and of course, solid musical and vocal training.

Our holistic approach to choral instruction is ideal for any child who loves to sing and is seeking musical enrichment. Our in-person rehearsals observe the most current, researched-based recommendations for COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Interviews are low-key, require no preparation, and are completed on Zoom or in person. To learn more or to schedule an audition, please contact us at 610-866-4342, ext. 116, or email For Tuition and Fees information, please click here.

Some highlights:

  • Our 2021-22 season will culminate in a performance of Bach’s Matthew Passion with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem in Greg Funfgeld’s final performances as the Artistic Director.
  • Our summer travel in June 2022 will extend the focus from the Stand Up program. We are joining with youth choirs from Washington DC and Wilmington DE in a tour that traces Harriet Tubman’s journey from Maryland to her home in Auburn, NY.

These wide-ranging musical experiences create intelligent and expressive singing musicians.

On location for Stand Up film

Scroll down for more details about the placement process. If you are ready to register for an interview time, please click here.

Join us!

Interested in joining us, sign up here.

Despite the many musical opportunities The Bel Canto Youth Chorus offers during the year, the interviews remain low-key and enjoyable and no music needs to be prepared in advance. Singers will be asked to introduce themselves, sing a Major scale, and a familiar song like “Happy Birthday,” or “The National Anthem.” This will help our music director better understand their current level of musical ability. The process is also an opportunity for the singer to assess the director, and for the parents to ask questions. We consider it more of a mutual interview that concludes with placing the child in the appropriate choir.

Interested singers can schedule an in-person interview at the Heckewelder Office or via Zoom if requested. We encourage singers to meet with the director as soon as possible.

Please complete the background informational survey to request an interview time.

To learn more about the process or to schedule an interview, please contact the Bel Canto Chorus Administrator by phone 610-866-4382, ext. 116 or email: 

Tuition Assistance and payment plans available- contact us for more information.

On location at Richland Meeting, Quakertown, PA

Get to Know Bel Canto

We believe choral singing builds better humans.

The process of learning to work together as a team to create inspired, musical performances builds personal empathy and understanding. We consider each individual chorister as a valued, contributing member. Our instructional approach provides social and historical context for every piece we study. Musicianship and vocal technique are seamlessly integrated into instruction, and drawn directly from the music we are learning. Our repertoire ranges from Bach to contemporary composers and culturally based music, with a special emphasis on underrepresented composers and music. 

These wide-ranging musical experiences connect our singers, creating a strong sense of community, understanding the power they have when they lift their voices. 

Take a look at how we have shifted to keep singing through the pandemic:

Intrigued? Join us!

Thematic Focus
Each season’s repertoire highlights a specific area of focus that draws connections between the individual pieces musically, topically, geographically, historically, or in some other way. Themes are often reflective of the location for the summer travel plans. For example, on our 2019 trip to England, we visited and performed at Coventry Cathedral, having recently performed Britten’s War Requiem, which was written for the consecration of the Cathedral.

The 2020-21 theme focuses on our local connection to the Underground Railroad.

Using traditional spirituals as well as music by contemporary African American composers and artists, our spring curriculum focuses on music that tells the story of the Underground Railroad. Through music, storytelling, and dialogue, we hope to encourage greater self-awareness regarding issues of race and a greater understanding of our communities and our world. As the UGRR passed through our geographic area, we will be connecting to our local role in the UGRR, visiting area historic sites, and walking a short stretch of the path the UGRR generally traversed (as Covid precautions allow). All materials and teaching strategies will be age-appropriate.

This is a story of Survival. Endurance. Strength. Resilience. Dignity. Bravery. Hope…qualities that inspire us and that we all need in this confusing world. We have much to learn as we give voice to this story.

~Rhiannon Giddens, performing artist and Artistic Director of Silkroad

The repertoire tells the story of escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad, primarily through settings of spirituals, but also by contemporary artists. It is divided into four sections:

  • Enslavement and survival
  • A way out focusing on resilience and hope
  • The journey that requires bravery and strength
  • The promised land where people have their dignity restored

Each section begins with a Bach Chorale and a reading, followed by several spirituals or contemporary compositions. The entire program is bookended with inspirational songs to lift the spirit. The readings will be contemporary – connecting the focus of the particular section to current events relative to racial inequity and social justice. These are the songs we are studying.

We are working on engaging guest artists who will provide authentic voices in the learning of this music. We will also be partnering with area schools in a virtual environment to invite dialogue and share musical experiences throughout the spring. We hope to document our journey and the curricular framework with an eye to make it available to other music educators. The end goal is a June 2021 video (live performance if Covid conditions allow) that includes musical performances by the Bel Canto choristers, area middle schools, and combined forces, guest artists, images, stories, and reflections.

As we learn this repertoire and come to understand the context of the music, your chorister may have questions, some of which may be uncomfortable. To support family discussion in the manner of your preference and for your reference, we have created a database of materials freely available online that are specifically geared towards having conversations with your children about race. Our intent is to provide these opportunities to you to utilize as you feel is appropriate. While our instruction will focus on how the music gives voice to the story, we hope that you explore the resources and find something there that resonates with you to initiate a conversation with your child. We encourage you to take advantage of the moment! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

To hear more of Dr. Hirokawa’s discussion of the curriculum, please click here to listen to her January 18, 2021 interview on “Lehigh Valley Arts Salon,” WDIY 88.1 FM.

Vocal Instruction
Young voices require knowledgeable instruction, with care taken to not damage the vocal instrument. Each rehearsal begins with group vocal instruction that prepares the singers for the music to be rehearsed that day. We place an emphasis on giving each singer the tools they need to be independent singers, laying a foundation for a lifetime of healthy singing.

The best learning occurs when new concepts are contextualized and students independently construct their own understanding. Musicianship skills are incorporated into every rehearsal, drawn directly from the music being studied. Applying solfege, score analysis, movement, and aural skill exercises regularly in instruction, choristers acquire reading musical notation organically. This results in our singers growing into more complete musicians. 

We believe that repertoire can be a window to understand a different time, place, or people. To that end, we seek out diverse music that comes from not only the Western Art Music canon but also music representing other cultural expressions and music of underrepresented composers and traditions. Learning a diverse repertoire and performing it in the original language encourages understanding of a cultural group, and assigns value and validation to the tradition the music represents. This understanding impacts how our singers interact with each other and the greater world.

It is hard to imagine another activity that requires the same teamwork, focus, and unity of purpose as choral singing. When children and youth sing in a choir, they learn that: 

  • they can be a valued part of a much larger whole;
  • when they join in community with others, their voices are more powerful;
  • supporting others lifts the entire community.
  • In choir, no one sits on the bench. Each voice has a unique and valuable contribution to make.

We actively cultivate this culture in our rehearsals and in all of our activities.

Social Justice/Equity
We are committed to equitable opportunities for all young singers who want to share their voice and support participation by youth from all backgrounds. Repertoire selection often reflects the heritage of our singers, providing additional context for learning about each other and personal growth.

Concert Choir
Concert Choir is open to youth in grades 6 – 12 who sing in the Soprano/Alto range. Singers in this ensemble are highly motivated and are seeking to be musically challenged with a group of other like-minded young singers from across the region. While some singers come to the ensemble with a fair amount of vocal or musical experience, this is not a prerequisite, as musicianship and vocal technique are integrated into instruction during every rehearsal. Repertoire ranges from unison to multiple parts and varies widely, including multiple languages, styles, and genres. Instruction emphasizes historical and social context and the significance of the music and composer – a very holistic approach to choral music education.

Weekly rehearsals take place outdoors and in person on Thursday evenings from 6:45 – 8:30, observing appropriate COVID-19 protocols, or virtually when there is inclement weather.

Knabenchor  for boys ages 6 – 14 (or 3rd through 7th grade)

Preparatory Chorus
The Preparatory Chorus is open to singers in grades 3 – 7 with unchanged voices. Lively instruction includes movement, vocal exploration, and musicianship, all taught through the lens of the music they are learning. Rehearsals are weekly for 75 minutes. No experience necessary. Rehearsals offer individual attention utilizing COVID-19 safety guidelines for in-person sessions, as well as in the virtual environment.

Whether it is a solo concert tour, participation in a festival, or a local run-out program, touring as a choir provides unique opportunities for our singers. Choristers grow in musicality, self-confidence, and commitment to each other. They learn about the locations they are visiting, often performing music associated with the location. Contextualizing the music in this way gives the choristers deeper insight into the importance and relevance of the music. As a result, the ensemble as a whole is elevated through these shared experiences and performs with a new level of understanding. 

Solo Concert Tours
2013   Central Europe
2011   Ireland
2010   Canada (Montreal and Quebec)
2009   Italy

National and international Music Festival Participation with Bel Canto Youth Chorus
Canterbury International Children’s Choral Festival, England
Niagara Children’s Choral Festival, Niagara, Canada
Pacific International Children’s Choral Festival, Eugene, Oregon
Queen City Choral Festival, Cincinnati, Ohio
World Choir Games, Cincinnati, Ohio
Pacific Rim International Choir Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii
Sing a Mile High Children’s Choral Festival, Denver, Colorado
Coastal Sound Choral Festival, Vancouver, British Columbia

Founded in 1993, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus is comprised of auditioned treble singers from the Greater Lehigh Valley region in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The choir has developed an international reputation for performing diversified choral repertoire at the highest standard of musical excellence and style.  Noted for the innovative, artistic programs it presents, the choir has been invited to perform for numerous music conferences, including the Eastern Division ACDA, Eastern Division MENC, PMEA, AGO, and Pennsylvania ACDA conferences. 

In 2018, the choir merged with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Bel Canto provides a youth choral music education program for The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and performs regularly on Bach Choir programs. Bel Canto collaborates with other artists as well, including the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Allentown Band, Bucks County Choral Society, Cordus Mundi Men’s Chorus, and Lehigh University Choral Union. 

The choir has been honored for its excellence as a winner of The American Prize in the Children’s Chorus category. Tours have taken the choir to Central Europe, Italy, Ireland, Canada, England, Colorado, Oregon, Brooklyn, Disneyworld, Ohio, and Hawaii. The choir adapted instruction in 2020 to accommodate appropriate Covid-19 protocols, finding innovative ways to rehearse both in person and virtually. The choir has been under the direction of Founder Dr. Joy Hirokawa from its inception.

Click here to view selections from our 2020 Virtual Winter Concert produced by Crowded Kitchen Players for Live from IceHouse Tonight series on YouTube!

For a peek into our last live performance, please link to selections from our 2019 Winter Concert at St. John’s Windish Evangelical Lutheran in south Bethlehem, PA.

Professional Development for Choral Directors

Summer 2021 – Reboot!

August 4th, 2021, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM*

The Bel Canto Youth Chorus Music Library

First Presbyterian Church of Easton
333 Spring Garden St, Easton, PA 18042

Need a reboot after a confusing year of teaching in an ever-changing environment due to Covid? We are excited to offer area music teachers a Summer Professional Development opportunity developed with your input and specific to your needs, FREE of charge! What do you need? We are here to support you!

* After registration is complete, you will receive an email with links to readings/videos to complete prior to the in-person session.  This opportunity will serve 6 hours of PD.

Open to choral music teachers of all grade levels.

Topics you might be interested in:
  • Using music to address issues of D/E/I/A
  • the Stand Up curriculum, connecting past and present through music
  • choral music reading session
  • choral music library open house (peruse a library of over 800 titles)
  • teaching vocal technique in rehearsals and general music
  • teaching musicianship in rehearsals
  • local history and the Underground Railroad
  • or any other topic you request

Please complete this form to help us focus our offering on what you need the most and to register!

Unsure if your district will accept PD hours from this workshop? Please let us know and we will work with them to provide any documentation you might require. Thank you for your interest!

Questions? Please call us at 610-866-4382 x116 or email

We provide support to choral directors of elementary, secondary, college, and faith-based organizations.

If you are interested in receiving information about the next professional development workshop, please add your name to our email list here.

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To learn more about our previous Choral Directors workshops, please visit the archive sessions below.

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Our 2020 Recharge! for Choral Music Educators was held on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Christ Lutheran Church in Allentown. Attendees included a WIDE variety of choral conductors – from church musicians dealing with aging voices with out of control wobbles to elementary general music teachers working with our youngest singers. Sessions covered teaching strategies that were applicable to every age group, and every attendee had something to offer to our discussions.

Workshop Description
Using the accessible octavo “Shady Grove” arranged by Tom Shelton, Dr. Jason Vodika and Dr. Joy Hirokawa presented a wide variety of possible teaching approaches for a choral setting. The workshop included theory backed up by actual application to a learning environment, demonstrated Group Vocal Technique, Gordon Music Learning Theory, Critical Pedagogy, and other approaches. The workshop provided participants with pedagogical ideas to explore to support the work they do with singers.


  • Distracted Music-ing: Music as a Multitask:  Creating rehearsals that teach discrete skills within a musically empowering context.
  • The Choral Warm-up: Building Vocal Skill through Group Vocal Technique.
  • Singing in Context: Applying language-based “sight before sound” techniques to build choral literacy.
  • Please Talk in My Rehearsal: Strategies to engage singers in musical and social dialogue.

8:30 – 9:00     Coffee, Conversations, Connections!
9:00 – 12:00    Workshop
12:00 – 1:00    Lunch
1:00 – 3:00     Workshop

5 hours of ACT-48 credit was made available by working with the school districts for each participant who wished to add this workshop for their professional development.

Clinician Bio
Conductor and educator Jason Vodicka is an Assistant Professor of Music Education at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music education, mentors student teachers, and teaches summer courses in conducting pedagogy for in-service musicians. Prior to his appointment at Westminster, Dr. Vodicka was Coordinator of Music Education at Susquehanna University where he taught courses in music education, conducted the University Chorale, and founded the Susquehanna University High School Choral Institute. During this time he was also Music Director of the Harrisburg Choral Society and Orchestra, a community ensemble founded in 1895. For nine years, Dr. Vodicka was a vocal music instructor at Pennsbury High School in Lower Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A versatile musician and educator, Dr. Vodicka has worked as a church musician for more than twenty years.

Dr. Vodicka holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in music education from Westminster Choir College and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Georgia. He is a 2017 inductee into the Westminster Music Education Hall of Fame. Dr. Vodicka is in frequent demand as a clinician and guest conductor. He is the author of several publications including chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Choral Pedagogy and James Jordan’s Inside the Choral Rehearsal: Harmonic Rehearsal Teaching and Learning Based on the Music Learning Theory of Edwin E. Gordon. He is the chief author of the Inside the Choral Rehearsal teaching guides series available from GIA Publications.

Bel Canto was honored to receive a grant from ACDA’s Fund for Tomorrow to initiate an annual choral music educator professional development event which we named, Recharge! Our inaugural program featured Dr. Rollo Dilworth (Vice Dean and Professor at Temple University) as a clinician for three days in the Lehigh Valley on March 28, 29, & 30, 2019. 

Planning for his residency began in June 2018 when Artistic Director Dr. Joy Hirokawa met with music educators in the Allentown School District (ASD). Using a logic model approach, we analyzed their needs and distilled what they felt they most would like in their time with Dr. Dilworth. In consultation with Dr. Dilworth, we designed a residency tailored specifically to the requests of the ASD music educators. The final day of the residency was open to all teachers in the area. A complete schedule follows:

Thursday, March 28, 2019
12:30 – 3:30 PM      Working with Urban Populations Professional Development
This workshop was presented to the ASD Elementary Music Educators. Dr. Dilworth provided inspirational feedback and support to the teachers and modeled numerous teaching strategies appropriate for Urban Populations. 

6:45 – 8:45 PM      Open Rehearsal and Masterclass
During this session, Dr. Dilworth led a Conducting Masterclass with three area teachers as they led the Concert Choir of The Bel Canto Youth Chorus in rehearsal. He then modeled instruction by coaching the choir on one of his own pieces, “No Ways Tired.” This Masterclass was open to all area teachers to observe. 

Friday, March 29, 2019
12:00 – 8:00 PM      Young Voices of Allentown
The Young Voices of Allentown program brings together selected singers from each of the four middle schools in Allentown to form an honor choir to present a short program of choral music. This year, one of the high school choirs also joined the program.  In the afternoon, Dr. Dilworth coached the combined group on one of his songs and taught them a gospel song modeling teaching in the oral tradition for the teachers.  Additional time with the teachers addressed working with students in the urban environment. Dr. Dilworth conducted the final selections of the evening program, engaging the audience to sing with the students.

Saturday, March 30, 2019
9:00 AM– 3:00 PM        Choral Pedagogy Professional Development
This session was open to all teachers in the region and focused on rehearsal strategies, warm-up examples, and teaching philosophy. In the afternoon, a group of singers from The Bel Canto Youth Chorus and students from the ASD combined to form a lab chorus for Dr. Dilworth to model teaching a song from scratch, with sidebars to the teachers to explain the teaching approaches he was using.  

Resources for Area Choral Music Directors

In-service Programs for Your School or Faith-based choir
Looking for a clinician for an in-service program focused on your needs as choral music educators? Dr. Hirokawa has presented workshops, clinics, and conference sessions extensively across the country. 

Looking for research to support your program? Whether it’s the latest on performing in the time of Covid-19 or the percentage of choral singers who engage more in civic activities, we can help you find the information you need.

Please get in touch with us!

Bel Canto has close to 800 titles in our library housed in Easton, PA primarily treble music of a wide variety of styles, genres, and difficulty levels. We typically hold these Open Houses several times during the year when Bel Canto conductors are present to be resources. Any area teacher can stop in to peruse scores, get recommendations for music, and read through pieces in which they are interested.  Interested in a Professional Development day for your district? Please contact us to arrange a time!

This monthly newsletter to area choral music educators includes:

  • Teaching tips
  • Opportunities for choral directors and their students
  • News you need to know
  • Advocacy resources
  • Announcements of upcoming events

Click here to join our email list! (add the link)

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Stand Up Film

Click here to view the film on our YouTube channel

The Bel Canto Youth Chorus has spent the last year, rehearsing, studying, recording and editing its first ever full-length concert video:

Combining traditional African American spirituals and chorales of J.S.Bach with the spoken word of poetry, the Youth Chorus will present this program recorded in Allentown, Bethlehem, Freemansburg, New Hope, and Quakertown.

This film tells a story of Survival. Endurance. Strength. Resilience. Dignity. Bravery. Hope…qualities that inspire us and that we all need in this confusing world. We have much to learn as we give voice to this story.

Guest artists include Camille Armstrong, Dashon Burton, Grace Spruiel, Craig Thatcher, and Dierdre Van Walters.

Through music, storytelling, and dialogue, this film:

  • develops an understanding of the story of enslaved people escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad in the mid-19th century
  • encourages a greater self-awareness regarding issues of race and equity, leading to a greater understanding of our communities and our world
  • features repertoire written or arranged almost exclusively by African-American composers.

In a year that has challenged so many youth education programs, the film offers people a way to hear the power of these young voices while seeing our local landscape in a new way.

Choral Village

Choral Village 2021 has been postponed

A unique summer experience for kids ages 12-16

Choral Village provides an opportunity for young people throughout the Lehigh Valley to dive into world music reflecting the many cultures represented right here in our community. Students aged 12-16 spend a full week exploring expressive choral performance, participate in drum circles, and engage in theater exercises, all in an atmosphere of community building and teamwork. The name, Choral Village, is derived from the African proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise our children. It takes a whole village to raise one child.”

For detailed information about Choral Village
click here

Spaces are limited to 18 participants

Do you have a musical, curious, creative student looking for a different experience? Through choral singing, drumming, theater games, and cultural exploration, Choral Village provides a safe and creative environment for 7-10th grade youth to learn about our local role in the Underground Railroad through contemporary and traditional African American music.   Students will also explore contemporary implications of this story in their own lives. Middle and high schoolers will spend a full week exploring expressive choral performance, participate in drum circles, and engage in theater exercises, all in an atmosphere of community building and teamwork.

An article about Bel Canto’s Choral Village program, written by Dr. Joy Hirokawa was published in Choral Journal. It is also included in the book, Relevance in the Choral Arts; A Pathway to Connections.

Connect ~ Communicate ~ Create

The Virtual Choral Village (July 27 – 31, 2020)

In response to the pandemic, the Choral Village program adjusted to an on-line week of exploring and processing the stories of Spring 2020 through music-making, conversing, drumming, improvising, and creating. To support more varied points of view, the grade levels were expanded to include youth entering grades 8 – 12 in Fall 2020. Participants from outside the Lehigh Valley were also welcome.


  • connecting through artistic expression, exploring new ways to use their voices, ears, and cultural rhythms
  • communicating with other youth from different locales, with different life experiences, telling different stories
  • creating a new artistic expression with these new colleagues

The Daily Schedule:

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Vocal warmup and improvisation
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Dialogue and Community Building
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Drumming
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM Creative project work with coaching by the clinicians
4:30 PM – 5:00 PM End of the day Check-In

Friday at 4:00 PM was a presentation of the creative projects of the week.

Video Gallery

Link to the Bel Canto Youth Chorus channel here


Chamber Choir performs The National Anthem, August 22, 2019 at Coca-Cola Park.

We’ll return to the park on August 25th, 2021 – PLAY BALL!

The Directors and Administration

Dr. Joy Hirokawa, Founder and Artistic Director

Dr. Joy Hirokawa is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Bel Canto Youth Chorus. She earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Education from Boston University, a Masters degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University, and a Bachelors degree with honors in Music Education, also from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She teaches a course annually at Villanova University’s Summer Music Program in working with the child’s voice. Dr. Hirokawa is a frequent guest conductor and clinician, presenting regularly at ACDA, NAfME and PMEA conferences and conducting numerous honors choirs, including the Connecticut All-State Elementary Honors Choir, the Middle School Treble Alabama All-State Chorus, the ACDA-PA All-State Middle School Honors Choir, and the ACDA-PA All-State Women’s Honor. Under her direction, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus has performed locally, nationally and internationally to great acclaim, and has appeared at ACDA, NAfME, and PMEA conferences. International tours have taken the choir to Italy, Ireland, England, and in the summer of 2013, Central Europe. Dr. Hirokawa’s published arrangements include her jazz arrangement of “My Favorite Things” and the Andalusian song “Lamma Badaa Yatathanna,” which have appeared on numerous festival programs. She is the current ACDA Eastern Division Repertoire and Standards Chair for Children and Youth Choirs and the Southeast Region Chair for ACDA-PA. Dr. Hirokawa taught in the public schools for 20 years and is now an adjunct professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

Elizabeth Kane

Elizabeth Kane is thrilled to lead the Preparatory Choir of The Bel Canto Youth Chorus. She has earned a Masters of Musical Arts in Ethnomusicology from Hunter College, City University of New York, and a Bachelor of Music degree with honors in Music Education from The College of New Jersey. She is currently completing her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Education at Boston University with a research focus in social-emotional learning.  She currently teaches music at Bridgewater Raritan Regional School district, a NAMM “Best Communities For Music Education” district for several years running. Elizabeth is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the American String Teachers Association.  She also served as a national publications committee member for the National Association for Gifted Children. Elizabeth has a deep passion for lifelong and community music-making.  She has been both a performer, lecturer, and board of trustees member for the New Jersey Choral Society where she worked hard to ensure high quality and informative intergenerational music performances. Elizabeth believes in helping every child experience and create music in meaningful and fun ways.

Andrea Berntsen, Collaborative Pianist

Andrea Berntsen started playing piano at age of three and became a professional accompanist at the age of thirteen. She earned a BM in Piano Performance from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and an MM in Piano and Organ Performance from the Yale University School of Music, New Haven, Connecticut. Ms. Berntsen has been an active church organist and choir director for close to fifty years and currently resides in Allentown, PA where she continues working as a church musician in addition to freelancing as a keyboard accompanist.

Gail Grossman, Vocal Coach

Gail Grossman, Bel Canto’s vocal technician, has been a private voice teacher in the Lehigh Valley for more than thirty years, specializing in classical voice, opera, and musical theatre. Ms. Grossman has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in voice from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, and spent a year in Bologna, Italy, studying opera.
She sang professionally and taught voice in New York City for many years, and continued advanced studies in speech pathology at NYU, focusing on voice disorders experienced by the professional voice user. Ms. Grossman has worked with ear, nose, and throat specialists in New York and Pennsylvania, providing voice therapy to singers with vocal nodules and other vocal issues, including paralyzed vocal cords, global apraxia, and traumatic brain injury. Ms. Grossman maintains a private voice studio in the Allentown area. Her students have gone on to major universities and conservatories, and many have gone on to major careers in opera, musical theater, film, and contemporary music.

Silagh White, Administrator

Silagh White has more than 25 years of experience in arts management, most recently at Lehigh University-first as Director of ArtsLehigh (2005-2011) and then as Director of Arts Engagement & Community Cultural Affairs (2011-2016). Her career is also anchored in music and she has a doctorate in Bassoon Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. Prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley, she was director of an arts engagement program called “The Muse Machine” for the Performing Arts Council of Toledo, Ohio. She is president of the Eastern PA Arts Alliance, and a member of the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission. She produces features for Lehigh Valley Arts Salon on the local public radio, WDIY, and has a blog/podcast called “The Audience Guide.”

As an education and community building program of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the Bel Canto Youth Chorus continues to maintain policy and oversight through volunteer leadership and parent representation.

2021-2022 Governance Committee
Jennifer O’Donnell, Chair and Representative to the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Board of Directors
Patricia Alerica
Elizabeth Campbell,
Patricia Carliss
Jesse Gehman
Phyllis Gibson
Catharine Roseberry
Phillip Turton
Lindsay Whitman,
Silagh White, Administrator of Bel Canto Youth Chorus
Joy Hirokawa, Founder and Artistic Director of Bel Canto Youth Chorus
Leela Breithaupf, Executive Director of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem