A group of students in black dresses singing on risers on the chapel stage. There is an oboist playing and a piano player playing. The conductor is front of the group conducting with a hand in the air.

Bel Canto

The Bel Canto curriculum explores historical, theoretical, and cultural aspects of a wide range of repertoire for older, advanced treble choirs. Bel Canto singers prepare music for multiple performances per year, including both the fall and spring Girl Choir concerts. Bel Canto was recently awarded Second Place in the national American Prize competition, has been invited to perform at several state and regional conventions of choral conductors, and has appeared as the guest artist with the Monteverdi Master Chorale (Stevens Point), St. Marys Youth Choir (Ontario, Canada), Viking Choral Festival, newVoices (formerly White Heron Chorale), Makaroff Youth Ballet, Lawrence University choirs and orchestra, and for the Sing Out Loud! and PIPFest women's choir festivals in Minnesota. They have appeared on Wisconsin Public Television and have a performance permanently linked to the WPT website.

Auditions for Bel Canto are held in April for the following academic year. Please fill out our interest form to receive audition information next spring.

2018-19 Calendar

Bel Canto 2018-19 Calendar


  • Riser set up and take down


  • Concert tickets on sale now!
    • Tickets for the the December 8 Girl Choir concerts are now on sale. They can be purchased through the Lawrence University Box Office in-person, over the phone, and online.

Click here for more information.


  • The Academy apparel store is now open until 11:59 p.m. on November 18.
    • With the help of our friends from Eagle Graphics, we are proud to present our updated apparel store! Our store includes both general Academy apparel and ensemble apparel in various colors and styles. Orders should be shipped before the holiday season.

Click here for more information.


  • Additional performance at the Chapel on January 12
    • Report to the Conservatory, room 259: 8:55 a.m.
    • Rehearsal in the Chapel: 9:25 - 9:55 a.m.
    • Performance in the Chapel: 11:10 - 11:35 a.m.

Click the button below to download and print the Girl Choir Program Handbook.

Girl Choir Handbook


Notes and homework from Nov 11 rehearsal:
  • Thanks for another good rehearsal.  Over the next few weeks, you MUST make more progress at home.  I can't help you memorize, and that's the bulk of the work now.  Keep at it - we have great performances ahead!

  • Please take the time to re-familiarize yourself with O Virtus.  It should be memorized by next week.  The latest recording is linked below under the October 21 notes.

  • Tiny note/word slips on Si Verias and Over Hill are the only things preventing really solid performances of each.  This week, really work on singing with a "mouthier" sound on Si Verias - and keeping the sound there all the way through the piece.  We raised the pitch to start on D-flat and F, which worked nicely in your range.  We'll keep it there.

  • If you are singing the semi-chorus of Les sirenes, really work on those notes this week, and work to memorize it as best as possible.  If you are *not* singing the semi-chorus, keep refining the memorization and the French - particularly the schwa sound (round your lips!).  Everyone must work on memorizing/tuning the chords at the end, and knowing when you come in on the "ah" spots in the middle of the piece.  Use the link from the Oct 28 rehearsal (below) to practice with.

  • Make a plan for Ella's Song.  Do you want to sing melody?  Harmony on the refrain?  Groove throughout?  We'll discuss and assign parts next week (11/18)!

  • Miserere mei Deus should also be memorized next week.  I think you're close.

  • Reminder - memorize The Fox by December 2nd.

  • Reminder - we DO have rehearsals on December 9 and 16.

  • Reminder - I'll need to know if you want to purchase a "Women of the World" ticket (Friday night, Jan 11, Chapel, 8 pm, $10) soon, so check your calendar/make your decision.

Notes and homework from Nov 4 rehearsal:
  • You made good progress on Over Hill and Si Verias, but they both still need some work, particularly regarding the words.  Think about forward placement on Si Verias (and be sure you have all of the text in verse 2 completely memorized) and work on tempo/transitions in and out of "The cowslips tall her pensioners be..." in Over Hill.
  • Please read through the notes and homework from October 28 to refresh everything else; the Boulanger must be memorized next week (and we'll add the semi-chorus with a handful of you). 
  • Thank you for remembering to watch for times when you give or receive love and care this week.  :)


Notes and homework from Oct 28 rehearsal:
  • We're into the home stretch - only 4 rehearsals to concert!  Ahhhh!!!!

  • If you have not listened to the recording of Over Hill that I posted last week (Oct 21), please spend some serious time with it this week.  It will help you lock the tonal shift from the D Major to g minor chords in measure 30.  Practice measure 30 to the end to fix mistakes and also to bring the tempo up to match that of the first half.  Please have this memorized by Sunday (November 4).

  • We didn't get to Si Verias this week, but please have that memorized by Sunday as well, including the endings we worked on last week.  The recording is linked under August 26 if you'd like to rehearse with it.

  • Please make up a rhythmic/harmonic pattern for Ella's Song this week.  Be sure you are switching between the C Major and G7 chords on both the chorus and the verses.  Please also make up some sort of rhythmic pattern for body percussion.  Remember - you can use more than one note (just keep it in the chord:  C-E-G or G-B-D-F) in your pattern, and the patterns do not need to be complex.  The complexity happens when we put everything together!  Listen to the Sweet Honey recording for inspiration. 

  • Les Sirenes will need to be memorized by November 11 (two Sundays from now), so please begin to work on that.  Here is a new recording for you to work with - I like it better (and you don't need to follow along with the score as directly as the last video did).  It is a little slower, though.  Thank you so much to everyone who auditioned - this was not an easy choice!  I'd like Emma F. and Alana C. to do the solos, but please learn them both and be prepared to sing them for me next week (you can sing them together) before rehearsal.  We'll decide together who sings which one.  Can you arrive by 5:20 or so?  We will also select the semi-chorus next week during rehearsal, so please consider if you are interested in that.  If you want to look ahead at it, the top line will be S1, the middle line A, and the bottom line S2.  We'll need only two or three singers from each part for this.

  • Miserere mei will need to be memorized by November 18 (three Sundays from now).  Please be sure to reinforce/fix the little spots we addressed last night, and practice with dynamics, please.

  • O Virtus will also need to be memorized by November 18.  Reference the recording posted last week (Oct 21) for the latest version!  Open throat, lifted soft palate, energized consonants are all important.

  • The Fox remains a mystery, but we'll run through it next week, I promise.  :)  It will need to be memorized by Dec 3, but it will REALLY need to be memorized then... not by Dec 9.  It's not difficult (and we are singing only two verses of it) which is why I have left it to the end of our learning cycle.

Notes and homework from Oct 21 rehearsal:
  • Well done, everyone.  I put you through your paces last night.  Keep up the great work, and take advantage of your time off this week to hold yourself accountable to what you still need to polish or fix.

  • O Virtus - here is the link from last night.  There are a few things to work on, but ultimately I'd also like you to work on opening your throat (inhale on the vowel!) and lifting your soft palate when you inhale and when you sing.  Watch your pronunciation, too, please (Kwae vs. Kwah, but both with a big K; voiced "v" sounds; dental "t" sounds; tall/pure vowels.

  • Miserere - finish learning the piece on text.  Counting is the biggest challenge.  Watch accidentals.

  • Over Hill - get comfortable singing the whole piece on the words.  Here is a nice recording for you to listen to.  What do you notice about it?

  • Les sirenes - auditions next week begin at 5 pm.  If you are not auditioning, please come into the room quietly, including those of you on riser setup.  We don't have a second room for auditions.  Choir:  please review, review, review, so the French and the notes become comfortable in your voice.  Think about legato lines, although the melodic shape is quite angular.

  • Si Verias a la Rana - really solidify text on phrase endings to help with the transitions between sections.  Work on keeping the quart-quart-quart-one-two-three steady.  Count endings so you know when the next section begins.  Begin to memorize!  I'll ask this to be memorized quite soon, so get some work done ahead of time on this if you can.

  • Ella's Song - if you didn't look anything up about Ella Baker (or even if you did!), read this article for more information about her. We'll look more closely at the octavo soon.

  • Have a great week!

Past Notes and Homework:

Notes and homework from Oct 14 rehearsal:
  • As you practice this week, really work on opening your throat and lifting your soft palate as you inhale AND as you sing.  You made big changes with that in O Music as your warmup, which was really exciting to hear!
  • We got a lot of work done on deciding rhythms and phrasing of O Virtus.  Here's as far as we got.  Listen to that recording with a critical ear - there's a lot of great ideas and a lot of work to do!  We'll talk about it.  And listen all the way to the end to laugh at me.  :)  Homework for next week is to make rhythmic decisions similarly for the remainder of the piece (duple? triple? one long note?) and to get comfortable with the ornaments (longer first note, fill in all of the middle notes quickly on the way to the second note, but not as a slide/smear).
  • Over Hill was ok, but please do reinforce the notes from measure 39 to the end.  Remember that when I say "solfege this section," it means write in the solfege *in order to learn it* - not just "write in the solfege and walk away from it for the week." 
  • Actively review Les sirenes (with the French), Si Verias (with the steady rhythm), and Miserere (so you don't forget it).  We still have a LOT of work to do before concerts and, while we're on a good track, we need to keep moving forward.  Take this last bullet point of homework seriously - how can you improve on the preparation you did last week to move each piece forward before Sunday?


Notes and homework from Oct 7 rehearsal:
  • Keep up the great work!  Thanks especially to FVL singers for joining us for as much of the rehearsal as you could.  Important:  WEAR YOUR UNIFORM TO REHEARSAL NEXT WEEK.  If you don't have time to hem your new dress, just pin it up.  Wear concert shoes and look nice for photos.

  • Learn a little about Ella Baker this week and come prepared to discuss aspects of her life you learned or were impressed by.  Ella's Song is linked here (slightly different from the score you have).  See if you can follow along with at least some of your part (4-part split, just as Over Hill/Miserere) as you go along.

  • Please review measures 1-30 of Over Hill, Over Dale.  Learn measures 39 through the end on solfege for next week.

  • Les sirenes keeps taking leaps forward - keep it up!!  Continue to review everything, as you have now learned the notes for the entire choral part of the piece.  For next week, add French to measures 60-72.  The text is linked below.
    Text pages 6-7
    Text soprano solo 1 (mm 31-45)
    Text soprano solo 2 (mm 52-59)

    SOLO AUDITIONS OCTOBER 28 (before and after rehearsal - watch for sign-ups)

  • Really work on/solidify the rhythms of Si Verias with the [ta-ta-ta-one-two-three where "ta" = quarter note] so that you can sing (especially sections A and B) reliably without losing the underlying percussive rhythm.  The *end* and the *beginning* of each section are the tricky bits.


Notes and homework from Sept 30 rehearsal:
  • You had another great rehearsal - thank you so very much!  Continue to review Si Verias and O Virtus, then place additional focus on the music below.

  • Les Sirenes - you made great progress!  Continue to refine the French on measures 11-25.  Please learn the notes ("loo") on pages 6-7 (measures 60-73) for Sunday.

  • The beginning of Miserere was beautiful, and we learned up to approximately measure 24 (whenever your voice part finishes the word "mea").  If you were absent, please learn that; if you were present, please review from the beginning up to that point with pure vowels, open throat/lifted soft palate, tall mouth posture, and spinning the sound to the front of your teeth.  Alto 2, don't be afraid to mix into your chest voice to really help the part be heard; remember that your chest voice does not come from your neck.  If you feel tension in your throat, you're using the wrong mechanism to create this sound.  Please see me if you find yourself with this problem.

  • We looked at the text for "Over Hill, Over Dale" and sang measures 1-9 on solfege and then on the text.  For next week, please write the solfege in on your part through the downbeat of measure 30 (fermata) and be ready to sing your part.  Remember that your voice part is the same on this as it was in Miserere mei.  Special thanks to Emily for performing the text for us in class!

Notes and homework from Sept 23 rehearsal:
  • THANK YOU for preparing Les Sirenes so well last week.  This is going to be gorgeous!  Please continue to review and solidify measures 11-25 (which is also 82-97 - hooray!), but now add the text, which you can listen to here.  French speakers, please note that sung French does have some different rules from spoken French (sorry about that - it might make you a bit frustrated).  Side note - I have noticed that the recording I linked for you (because it follows along with the music) has the singers taking breaths in awful spots - like in the middle of words.  So please don't assume we will do that.  :)
  • Please learn your part (S1, S2, A1, A2) in Miserere mei Deus, mm 1-13 (downbeat).  Follow along with the link to hear how your part fits into the whole (A2 = oboe).  Remember pure, tall vowels and that the half note gets a beat in 4/2 meter.
  • Please solidify the notes in O Virtus, particularly the spots we worked on this week.
  • Please solidify the rhythm of the text in Si Verias, particularly at the end of the A/beginning of the B section and then again at the end of the B section.  Begin to work on increasing the tempo as you sing it.  The link to the piece remains below.
Notes and homework from Sept 16 rehearsal:
  • It's so good to be back with you!  Thanks for the great conversations, especially about O Virtus Sapientiae.  Please be sure to have all the notes learned (pay special attention to the B-flats and E-flats) correctly for next week, and be ready to sing all of it on the Latin text.  Listen here for the pronunciation.  Here are a few additional recordings for you to listen to:
    • O Virtus - choir with vocal drones
    • O Virtus - choir with soloists and vocal drones
    • O Virtus - professional choir with lower octave drones
    • O Virtus - alto soloist with viola drone
  • Learn the first bit of Les Sirenes on "la" (French will be next week).  Sop 1, that is mm 11-22; Sop 2 mm 12-23, Altos mm 13-25.  Don't worry about the semi-chorus part (yet), which appears above the chorus parts beginning in measure 21.
  • Solidify Si Verias a la Rana and be ready to sing the whole song on the text.  Listen here for the pronunciation.  We'll perform it as follows:
    • A1 - unison, A2 - add drone
    • B as written both times (with the fall-off at the end of the second ending)
    • C1 unison, C2 - add harmonies
    • Vocalise - Da, da da, da, DAI da/ da, da da, da DAI da/da, da da, da, DAI da/da da, da, da da, DAI-a-da/da___ (fall-off on second ending, but not at the very end of the piece)


Notes and homework from Aug 26 rehearsal:
  • Great first rehearsal, in spite of all of the facilities challenges - thank you!
  • Please review all of Si Verias a la Rana; remember that we learned text at C and are changing to "da" at measure 17.  Come with all notes and rhythms learned on "da" (except at letter C).  Here is a recording of our version, and here is a recording of the Turkish/Ladino source material.
  • Spend some time listening to Les Sirenes (while you watch the score) so you begin to get the piece in your brain.
  • Learn all of O Virtus Sapientiae; come next time with ideas for phrasing, tempo changes, etc.  Not all quarter notes are equal.  Don't worry about the ornaments just yet.  You should be able to sing this confidently.  Note that all Bs and Es are flat (each line functions as a "measure" in this regard).
  • Save the extra dates of our convention dress rehearsal (Jan 6) and performance (Jan 12)!
  • Our next rehearsal is September 16 - happy practicing!

2018-19 Dress Rehearsal and Concert Dates

Dress Rehearsals
Friday, December 7, 2018 3:45-6:30 p.m.
Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Friday, March 22, 2019

5:45-7:45 p.m.
Lawrence Memorial Chapel

3:45-6:30 p.m.
Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Saturday, December 8, 2018 2:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Lawrence Memorial Chapel
- 7:00 p.m. concert will be available
to view online via Livestream.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Morning, TBA
Lawrence Memorial Chapel
Free admission

2:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Lawrence Memorial Chapel
- 7:00 p.m. concert will be available
to view online via Livestream.

2019-20 Girl Choir Auditions

  • Girls currently enrolled in Girl Choir will receive a recommendation from their conductor letting them know for which choir they will audition.

Monday, April 1, 2019 4:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142


Tuesday, April 2, 2019 4:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142
Sunday, April 7, 2019 12:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142


Monday, April 8, 2019 4:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 4:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142


Saturday, April 13, 2019 12:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142
Bel Canto
Thursday, April 11, 2019 4:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 146


Saturday, April 13, 2019 3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Music and Drama Center
Room 142

Choir Materials

  • Bel Canto singers must bring a black three-ring binder and two sharpened pencils to every rehearsal.
  • Music is the property of the Academy.
  • Singers new to the program will receive a tote bag that becomes theirs.
  • Additional or replacement bags can be purchased through the Academy office for the price of $10 plus tax.

Concert Uniform

  • Bel Canto will have a choice between purchasing a uniform dress or uniform top and pants.
  • Singers who already own a dress may choose to be fitted for and purchase the new uniform top and pants or continue to wear the dress they already own.
  • Bel Canto singers are to wear black, closed-toed, flat-heeled dress shoes, and black pantyhose.
  • Post-style earrings for concerts are acceptable, no hoops.
  • Hair accessories must be small and the color of the hair. Hair must be its natural color

Electronics Policy

Cell phones, iPods, electronic readers, and other electronic devices are strictly prohibited during ensemble rehearsals and back stage during concerts.   If a family emergency takes place during a rehearsal or concert, please contact the ensemble manager.

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