“It was such a pleasure working with the young people of the Bel Canto Children’s Choir. The Choral Society and our audiences loved them – they sing with a natural musicality and gorgeous sound. They were so well prepared, responsive, and ready to make changes on a dime! This is obviously a group of young singers who love performing together, and their joy is infectious!”
Associate Professor of Music, Haverford College
Director of the Choral and Vocal Studies Program for Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges
Artistic Director, Bucks County Choral Society
May 7, 2012
Please communicate to your singers my very deep gratitude for their musicality and professionalism in their work with Lehigh University Choral Arts and orchestra on my “in time of.” Throughout the rehearsals and performances, Bel Canto was consummately prepared and focused on creating the best possible results. The young singers comported themselves as pros the entire time. They were engaged, intelligent, and – above all – artists. This is the best in musical education, combining technique, attention to detail and a great love for the art. My commendations to you and your singers.
With best regards,
R.J. Ulrich Professor of Music
Director, Lehigh University Choral Arts
Artistic Director, The Princeton Singers
Dear Ms. Hirokawa:
“…I am thrilled by your performance…your musicians gave my music the kind of thrilling, and meaningful, performance that I hope for in this piece. You have a wonderful chorus, such talented young musicians that truly ‘sold’ the piece…I love what you did with the piece. It is sensitive, but at the same time you were able to bring out the horror of what these children had to go through. Their words live in your performance…I think that the work is as topical today as when the children of former Yugoslavia wrote those heartfelt words and, as I’ve already said, you and your musicians made it come alive and meaningful once again.
Thank you, again, for the outstanding performance, and for playing my music.
Peace and Love,
Testimonials from our singers and alumni
Meghan O’Donnell, Current Bel Canto Concert Choir singer
“There’s something magical about coming into weekly choir rehearsals and being given the opportunity to become an explorer. For two hours every Thursday I, and my fellow choristers, am given the unique privilege of discovering the world around me through a musical lens. Each new song opens my eyes to a tradition of music that I’ve never known before; I am plunged into the stories of people I’ve never met in countries I’ve never visited. I become one with their hopes and their dreams, their pain and their fears.
In the eight years in which Bel Canto has been a part of my life I have been taught respect, admiration, and love for the different people, cultures, and countries around me. The leaders of this organization have been my most influential teachers. They have shown me the great power of music: its ability to unify all people. In this journey with Bel Canto, I realized that I am not simply an American. I am Russian. I am Irish. I am African. I am Slovak, Spanish, Japanese, Afghani, and Indian and everything there is because I am a member of the human community.
There’s the word. Community. That’s what Bel Canto is and that’s what it encourages all of us to be a part of on the world scale. And it does it all through the music.”
Current Bel Canto chorister, Michaela Hilling.
“Music is a form of expression that kids need in every stage of their young lives. Whether it is to get through hard times or display how good they feel inside, they need to be able to show or release their emotions into a song or sound or beat. If that means just following the leaders and listening to the emotions of others, then so be it. Music is organized sound and silence. It does not matter if you cannot make the beautiful sound that your neighbor can. When a child is exposed to music as an expression of feeling, they can take it in so many ways to fit their own needs. It can be a time of reflection, a time of escape, or a time of confession. Bel Canto provides the music, as well as a loving environment and a learning experience. I know that I would be a different person if I had not had the beautiful experience of being a part of a group so understanding to me. … Every child deserves to be in a loving environment. Every child deserves to express herself. Every child deserves to make music. Every child deserves to sing.”
Alumnus Caitlin Strunk, Alumnus
Board of Directors, Alumni Relations
“To experience the choir as a singer is quite a wonderful and singular experience. You and your choir mates – your friends –work hard to really understand a piece of music, both emotionally and technically. That involves a lot of time and a lot of commitment!
It’s been 9 years since I’ve been a singer with Bel Canto, and I still gush about the experience to anyone who will listen. Bel Canto is one of the best organizations I know. Through music, it reaches so many children. It fills their lives with song and their minds with new languages and different cultures. The breadth and depth of knowledge you touch on while learning a new song is truly magnificent. As an alumnus and board member, if I can help to provide the means for even one child to experience what I was able to experience through Bel Canto, I will be so happy. To sum it up, I’ll use song – one of my favorite pieces from my days with the choir, Here’s To Song: “Kings have riches widely lain, lords have land but then again, we have friends and song no wealth can buy.” And doesn’t that say it all? The gift Bel Canto brings to the lives of so many children truly is priceless.”
Emma Henry, Alumnus
“Without a doubt, Bel Canto changed my life. Bel Canto imbued in me a love and adoration for polished choral music. They taught me that you can learn good musicianship at any age and how to be a good leader. Equally important, I became someone who is confident in her musical abilities. Without their tutelage, I doubt that I would be majoring in Vocal Performance at the Eastman School of Music in the fall. Bel Canto has not only touched my life, but that of everyone who has ever been a part of the organization. They opened our minds to different cultures, and gave us a unique perspective to view our world.”
Mark and Janie Crocco, parents of a Bel Canto Chorister
“We wanted to take a minute to thank you for the countless hours that you devote to Bel Canto that enables these kids to have such a life transforming experience. Everyone has been so responsive to some of the special challenges that we encountered along the way and we cannot express how much we appreciate and respect the Bel Canto directors and staff.”