The Bel Canto Youth Chorus of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem provides an educational and artistic musical experience for children of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds and nurtures a sense of accomplishment and community through the outstanding performance of diverse choral repertoire chosen specifically for the young voice. Each season classical, contemporary and traditional works from around the world are included as are the compositions of J.S. Bach.

Founded in 1993 by its current artistic director Dr. Joy Hirokawa, Bel Canto is comprised of auditioned treble singers from five counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. The choir has developed an international reputation for performing diversified choral repertoire at the highest standard of musical excellence and style and has been invited to perform for numerous music conferences, including the Eastern Division ACDA, Eastern Division MENC, PMEA, AGO, and Pennsylvania ACDA conferences.  In 2013, the choir completed a recording with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem for a Christmas CD that was released on the Analekta label. Bel Canto was the winner of The American Prize in the Children’s Chorus category (2011), performed a Concert for Peace with Philadelphia based Atzilut (2009), and was part of the Philadelphia premiere performance of John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, presented by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. Tours have taken the choir to Central Europe, Italy, Ireland, Canada, England, Oregon, Brooklyn, Disneyworld, Ohio, and twice to Hawaii for the Pacific Rim Children’s Choral Festival under the direction of Henry Leck. In July 2018, Bel Canto merged with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. In addition to concerts this season, we present a choral director’s workshop with  Dr. Jason Vodicka, Westminster Choir College and Dr. Joy Hirokawa, the fourth year of the Choral Village Summer Camp, and collaborations with the Touchstone Theatre “Festival Unbound” and The Bach Choir of Bethlehem & Pennsylvania Youth Theater’s production of Benjamin Britten’s “Noyse Fludde”

Travel for summer 2020 has yet to be determined. It will remain a domestic trip, most likely on the east coast.

Auditions

YOUNG SINGERS NEEDED!

Benjamin Britten’s Noah’s Flood (Noye’s Fludde)
presented by The Bach Choir of Bethlehem

Performed at Packer Memorial Church, Lehigh University

February 28, 29, & March 1, 2020

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and the Bach Festival Orchestra under the direction of Greg Funfgeld, in partnership with The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, and members of the Young People’s Philharmonic, the Junior String Philharmonic, and the Lehigh University Philharmonic bring Benjamin Britten’s opera Noah’s Flood (Noye’s Fludde) back to the Lehigh Valley after 27 years.PYT’s Jill Dunn Jones directs a joyous new production of Britten’s masterpiece combining the talents of professional singers, actors, instrumentalists, and a large youth chorus. The chorus, comprised of singers from The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, and area school children, will play the role of the animals, and will be prepared by Bel Canto Artistic Director, Joy Hirokawa.

Song and spectacle combine in this story of Noah and the ark. Based on the Medieval Chester play, this opera was composed in 1958 for a children’s performance in Adelburgh, England. Since then, the glorious music and charming production qualities have made it a favorite for audiences of all ages.

This fully-staged production of Britten’s one-act opera has been performed worldwide, with its American premiere taking place sixty years ago in New York. Traditionally staged in churches, this year’s Family Concert will take place in Packer Memorial Church at Lehigh University. Britten combines a child’s curiosity and whimsy with great emotional power in this work. The audience will join for the first hymn, which includes a thundering depiction of the biblical storm.

We are looking to cast 40 students (Grade 2-12) as the chorus of animals.
Minimal rehearsals required.
Wonderful community experience working with professionals from all organizations!
Opportunities for dancers as well!

Please contact Joy Hirokawa at joyhirokawa@comcast.net for more information and to register!

Rehearsals
Saturday, January 4th, 2020, 9:30 – 11:00 am at Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown
Saturday, February 8th, 2020, 9:30 – 11:00 am at Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 time, TBA at Packer Memorial Church, Lehigh University
Thursday, February 27, 2020 time, TBA at Packer Memorial Church, Lehigh University

Performances
Friday, February 28, 2020 call time TBA. 10:00 am and 1:00 pm school performances at Packer Church (excused school absence required for all singers)
Saturday, February 29, 2020 call time TBA. 3:00 pm public performance at Packer Church
Sunday, March 1, 2020 call time TBA. 3:00 pm public performance at Packer Church

Contact Silagh White at silagh@bach.org  or 510-866-4382 x 116 for more information.


Auditions for the Preparatory / Intermediate Choir Open in January 2020

To receive an audition for the second half of the 2019-2020 season with the Preparatory / Intermediate Choirs, complete the background survey.

Auditions will be on Monday, January 6, and Monday, January 13, 2020, 6:00 PM at First Nativity Lutheran Church, Allentown.

Please call 610-866-4382, ext. 116 with questions.
No preparation needed.
Noted for its innovative and artistic programming, the Bel Canto Youth Chorus is comprised of Preparatory, Intermediate, and Concert Choirs. In addition to performances throughout the greater Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley areas, tours have taken the choir to Ireland, Central Europe, Italy, England, Canada, Hawaii, and Disney World. At weekly rehearsals, Bel Canto choristers are provided with an educational and artistic experience that encompasses far more than just singing. Choristers learn about different cultures, religions, and lands through music, and develop friendships with other children who share their passion for music-making.
An education and outreach program of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus is under the artistic direction of its founder, Dr. Joy Ondra Hirokawa.
The Preparatory Chorus is designed for our youngest singers, typically in grades 2 – 4. Basic vocal skills, score reading, and rehearsal techniques are established in this group. These singers perform in the Winter and Spring concerts, and often in one or two run-out concerts. Rehearsals last 60 minutes on Monday evenings. Directed by Lauren Kostovick and Derek Kostovick. Annual tuition $755.00
The Intermediate Choir emphasizes developing vocal technique, music literacy, and part-singing. Singers at this level typically perform 1-2 run-out concerts in addition to our annual Winter and Spring concerts. It rehearses for 90 minutes on Monday evenings and is comprised of singers primarily in grades 4 – 8. Directed by Lauren Kostovick and Derek Kostovick.  Annual tuition $800.00
The Concert Choir performs a wide variety of music at an advanced level. Singers in this ensemble are expected to have a high level of musicianship in place to be accepted. They perform 2-3 concerts each season and tour annually. The Concert Choir rehearses 2 hours weekly on Thursday nights and has a required week-long camp in the summer. Most singers in this ensemble are in grades 6 – 12.  Directed by Dr. Joy Hirokawa.  Annual tuition $850.00
The Chamber Choir consists of any select choristers who currently sing in the Concert Choir. This ensemble is featured annually on music that highlights the unique vocal characteristics of advanced singers.
Assistance and payment plans available- contact us for more information.
Curious? Sit in on a rehearsal to see what it’s all about! Please contact the office to arrange a visit! Call 610-866-4382 x116 or email silagh@bach.org.

Complete the background informational survey to request an audition time.

Please call 610-866-4382, ext. 116 with questions.
No preparation needed.

Upcoming Performances

Winter Concert

2pm Saturday, December 7th, 2019
St. John Windish Church, 617 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem, PA 18015

Program
Intermediate/Preparatory Chorus directed by Lauren Kostovick and Derek Kostovick

  • Sing a Joyful Song  by Beth Melin Nelson
  • What Shall We Give? a Spanish Carol/Arr. Tom Mitchell
  • Hine Ma Tov by Allan E. Naplan (Psalm 133:1)
  • Cornish Wassail an English Carol/Arr. Betty Bertaux
  • Elves adapted from The Merrie Dwarves by Pati Nagle
  • Prepare Thyself, Zion (Bereite dich, Zion) by J. S. Bach/Arr. Michael Burkhardt from the Christmas Oratorio, Pt. 1
  • Ríu Ríu Chíu a Spanish Carol/Arr. Linda Spevacek-Avery
  • I Heard a Bird Sing by Cyndee Giebler

Concert Choir directed by Dr. Joy Hirokawa

Psalm Settings

  • Laudate Pueri Dominum by  Felix Mendelssohn Psalm 113:1, 2
  • Psalm 92: Mizmor Shir L’yom Hashabbat by Srul Irving Glick Psalm 92:1-3
  • Psalm 150 by David L. Brunner, text adapted by John Davies (1569-1626)

Seeking Peace

  • Dona Nobis Pacem by Paul Carey includes quotations by Thich Nhat Hanh, Anne
  • LaMott, Mahtama Gandhi, Lawrence Binyon, and Anton Chekhov
  • Peace Like a River, a Traditional Spiritual/Arr. Joy Hirokawa
  • Be Like the Bird by Abbie Betinis
  • Tyrley, Tyrlow by Mark G. Sirrett an Anonymous text, c. 1450
  • Balulalow by Peter Tiefenbach Wedderburn, 1567

Songs for the New Year

  • Apple-Tree Wassail, a British Carol/Arr. Stephen Hatfield
  • The Kalanta of the New Year (St. Basil’s Day), a Greek Folk Song/Arr. Malcolm Dalglish
  • Oj, u horodi, a Ukrainian New Year’s Carol/Arr. Mariana Sadovska and Kitka
  • Total Praise by Richard Smallwood/Arr. Doreen Rao

Combined Choirs

  • This is My Wish  by  Tim and Angela Lauer/Arr. David Huntsinger
  • Audience Sing:  Silent Night

Link here for tickets to the 2019 Winter Concert

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem: Family Concert – Noye’s Fludde (Noah’s Flood)


3pm, February 29, 2020
3pm, March 1, 2020
Packer Memorial Church, Packer Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18015

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem welcomes The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, along with Pennsylvania Youth theater, and members of the Lehigh University Philharmonic and the Young People’s Philharmonic to share this performance of Benjamin Britten’s evocative re-telling of Noah’s Ark, with children playing animals of every fur and feather.

Link here for tickets to the public performances.

School Performances

We are thrilled to present this year’s Family Concert to school groups on Friday, February 28 at 10 am and 1 pm

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and The Bach Festival Orchestra, under the direction of artistic director and conductor Greg Funfgeld, will partner with The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, Pennsylvania Youth Theatre, and members of the Young People’s Philharmonic, the Junior String Philharmonic, and the Lehigh University Philharmonic to bring Benjamin Britten’s opera Noah’s Flood (Noye’s Fludde) back to the Lehigh Valley after 27 years. This fully-staged production of Britten’s one-act opera has been performed worldwide, with its American premiere taking place sixty years ago in New York. Traditionally staged in churches, this year’s Family Concert will take place in Packer Memorial Church at Lehigh University.

Britten combines a child’s curiosity and whimsy with great emotional power in this evocative one-act church opera. The audience will join for the first hymn, which includes a thundering depiction of the biblical storm.

To reserve your seats, please download and complete the School Ticket Order Form (see below.)

Circle your desired performance date and time, and tell us approximately how many students and adults will be attending. (You’ll receive one FREE adult ticket for every 25 students!)

Mail your completed registration form to Pennsylvania Youth Theatre address below, or fax it to 610-332-1405. Send no money now–you will receive additional information/billing later. Tickets are $7.50 each and a $3 order processing fee will be added to your final amount.

Study guides will be available online at the PYT website, www.123pyt.org. Please let PYT  know if any of your students require special accommodations.

*To qualify for the discounted school ticket prices, group minimum is 10 student tickets.*

School Group Performances:  Lehigh University – Packer Memorial Church

Friday, February 28, 2020 | 10:00  am

Friday, February 28, 2020 |   1:00 pm

Approximate length: 1 hour

Click here to download the School Ticket Order Form

$7.50 per ticket

Recommended for grades K – 12

Mail or fax completed order form to:

Pennsylvania Youth Theatre
Main Office 25 W .Third St.
Bethlehem, PA 18015
610-332-1404
FAX 610-332-1405
www.123pyt.org

 

Spring Concert

2pm Saturday, May 2, 2020
Christ Lutheran Church,  1245 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown, PA 18102

Workshops

Choral Music Teacher Workshop Professional Development

Dr. Jason Vodicka & Dr. Joy Hirokawa, clinicians

 

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

The Bel Canto Youth Chorus of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem is pleased to announce a Choral Workshop performance with Dr. Jason Vodicka from Westminster Choir College.

Christ Lutheran Church, 1245 Hamilton St, Allentown, PA 18102
$35 registration

5 hours of Professional Development Available

Following on the heels of our highly successful workshop last season with Dr. Rollo Dilworth, we are delighted to be hosting Dr. Jason Vodicka for a workshop on incorporating Group Vocal Technique, Gordon Music Learning Theory, and Critical Pedagogy into your choral rehearsal! Great way to recharge and “sharpen your pedagogical saw” mid\-\year without the expense of traveling to a conference!

We are working with area school districts to again provide professional development credit for you. Please let us know when you register if you are seeking credit on the Workshop Participant Information Survey.

Workshop Description
Using the accessible octavo “Shady Grove” arranged by Tom Shelton, Jason will present a wide variety of possible teaching approaches for a choral setting. The workshop will include theory backed up by actual application to a learning environment, demonstrating Group Vocal Technique, Gordon Music Learning Theory, Critical Pedagogy, and other approaches. The workshop will provide you with pedagogical ideas to explore that will streamline your teaching, inspire your thinking, and support the work you do with your singers! Also applicable to classroom singing! Join us!

Schedule
8:30 – 9:00     Join us for Coffee, Conversations, Connections!
9:00 – 12:00    Workshop
12:00 – 1:00    Lunch (Box lunch may be purchased with registration.)
1:00 – 3:00     Workshop

Clinician

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.

Space is limited and accommodations will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.  To ensure your space in the workshop, please complete the Workshop Participant Enrollment Survey. We encourage early enrollment in order to confirm your place and obtain the level of accommodations you seek.

You may pay with a credit card in advance of the workshop by following this link. We will also accept cash and checks at the event. There will be a $5 processing fee for all payment options.

Credit And Refund Policy
By attending, the participant agrees to participate in the Workshop during the time period chosen.

Questions? Please email Dr. Joy Hirokawa @ joyhirokawa@comcast.net or contact Silagh White, Administrator, at 610-866-4382 x116 or silagh@bach.org

Choral Village

Choral Village
July 27-31, 2020
Allentown Public Middle School to be confirmed by March 2020.

Choral Village is a low-cost, one-week summer program for youth entering grades 6 – 9 in the Lehigh Valley. The purpose of the program is to intentionally bring together young people from our region to learn about each other and our community’s cultural diversity through activities that may include theatrical games, drum circles, musical experiences, and in particular, artistically expressive choral performance.

Choral Village is led by accomplished musicians who are devoted to promoting and developing self-confidence, empathy, and leadership in young people. A special highlight will be mini-concerts performed by area musicians.

Click picture to register for the 2020 Choral Village

July 27 through 31, 2020
8:30am-3:00pm daily
Location – Trexler Middle School851 N 15th St, Allentown to be confirmed March 2020

  • For singers entering 6-9th grade
  • Lunch included
  • Low cost @ $200
  • Tuition Assistance Available
  • Registration Open Now

Take these 2 easy steps and join us in July!

  1. Complete our registration form and optional survey

  2.  Pay online     OR     Send a check for $205.00* payable to: The Bach Choir of Bethlehem

Mail to:
The Bel Canto Youth Chorus of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem
440 Heckewelder Place Bethlehem, PA 18018
(include “Choral Village” in memo line)

  • Students who demonstrate financial need may be eligible for a scholarship.  Our Financial Assistance Guide is available upon request. Email silagh@bach.org

    Students who would like to apply for need-based financial assistance can request an application by emailing silagh@bach.org Financial Aid can also be recommended by your child’s classroom teacher.

    Please note that spaces are limited for this camp. To hold a place for your child, be sure to register by May 8, 2020.

    Financial Assistance forms, if applicable must be received by May 8th to qualify for assistance, if not recommended by your child’s teacher.

    If paying tuition by check, please select that option on the registration form and an invoice will be mailed to you.

    To guarantee a spot in the Choral Village, payment must be received by June 5, 2020.


* Exciting news! * 
An article about Bel Canto’s Choral Village program, written by Joy Hirokawa, Bel Canto’s Founder and Artistic Director,  was published online in Choral Journal and will be the lead article in the print magazine. It will also be included in an upcoming book based on articles that came out of the Relevance Symposium where Joy presented information behind Choral Village.

See Video Gallery for a Peek into the Choral Village

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.

Lauren Kostovick, Director of the Preparatory Choir

Lauren Kostovick is the director of the Preparatory Choir. She is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, earning a Bachelors in Music Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. She is also certified in various processes for teaching music including Orff, First Steps in Music, and Conversational Solfege. She currently teaches K-5 vocal music at Jaindl Elementary School in Parkland School District. Her biggest goals in teaching involve building community, spreading the joy of music making, and allowing space for creative thinking for young musicians.

Derek Kostovick, Co-Director of the Preparatory Choir

Derek Kostovick is the co-director of the Preparatory Choir. He holds a Bachelors degree in Music Composition, a certification in Music Education K-12, and a Masters degree in Multicultural Education, all of which were earned at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. He is currently a professor of music at Eastern University, teaching theory and serving as band director for Eastern Winds. He has a background in composition for television working with National Geographic, and for film working on larger productions such as Iron Man and Transformers. He has accompanied and arranged for choirs for over fifteen years. Additionally, he served for five years as director of music at Aldan Union Church in Philadelphia, writing many new songs as well as a cantata for choir and band.

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.

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 a new 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.

2018-2019 Governance Committee
Jennifer O’Donnell, Chair and Representative to the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Board of Directors
Elizabeth Campbell, Parent Auxiliary Chair
Catharine Roseberry, Recording Secretary
Jesse Gehman, Bel Canto Alumn & Bach Choir of Bethlehem
Brandon Kendall, Concert Choir Parent
Lindsay Whitman, Preparatory/Intermediate Choir Parent
Silagh White, Administrator of Bel Canto Youth Chorus
Joy Hirokawa, Founder and Artistic Director of Bel Chanto Youth Chorus
Bridget George, Executive Director of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem

Video Gallery

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

Touring

International Children’s Choir Festival
Canterbury Cathedral, Coventry Cathedral & London
July 20-28, 2019
Festival Conductors: Henry Leck and David Flood

Performance Events:

  • Festival Choir Evensong service in Canterbury Cathedral (1,400-year-old tradition conducted by David Flood and Henry Leck)
  • Festival Choir Evening concert in Canterbury Cathedral conducted by David Flood and Henry Leck
  • Bel Canto Youth Chorus Concert in Coventry Cathedral, conducted by Joy Hirokawa*
  • Festival Choir Concert at Southwark Cathedral in London conducted by David Flood and Henry Leck

* After performing Britten’s “War Requiem” in 2018, the opportunity to sing at Coventry Cathedral will be an indelible memory for our choristers.

Why we travel

  • Builds cohesiveness in the choir
  • With more cohesiveness, they perform better!
  • When they perform better, they reach new heights of musicianship & musicality
  • Educational opportunities
  • Musical opportunities
  • Broaden horizons
  • Opportunities for individual personal growth

Please support our England 2019 GoFundMe Campaign

Here is another perspective of the impact of travel. Bel Canto alumni Kennedy Spencer and Sara Mack share what they gained from the experience: