The Bel Canto Youth Chorus Announces Retirement of Founder Dr. Joy Hirokawa

By Afton Wooten

After her many years of dedication and service, the Founder and Artistic Director of the Bel Canto Youth Chorus of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem Dr. Joy Hirokawa will retire on June 30.

Dr. Hirokawa founded the Bel Canto Youth Chorus in 1993. The choir has been invited to perform for the Eastern Division ACDA, Eastern Division MENC, PMEA, AGO, and Pennsylvania ACDA conferences. They have toured Central Europe, Italy, Ireland, Canada, England, Oregon, Brooklyn, Disneyworld, Ohio, and Hawaii. The choir has also won many prestigious awards and become a leading music education program in the Bethlehem Area School District under Dr. Hirokawa’s direction.

The President of The Bach Choir Board of Directors, Hal Black shares his appreciation for Dr. Joy Hirokawa by saying, “Your inspiring and masterful performances over the years, and in so many different venues, have
been a joy to us all. We should talk about how many young singers you have trained, how many social issues you have addressed, how many friendships you have created, and how many young hearts you have touched. Bel Canto has become more than just the Youth Chorus; it is an experience that is felt throughout the lives of the fortunate young singers who have participated in it. We at The Bach Choir are fortunate to have become part of your world, and we will honor your legacy for as long as we make music.”

Following Dr. Hirokawa’s retirement Kelly S. Rocchi will step into the role of Director of The Bel Canto Youth Chorus of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. She said in a press release, “I have looked up to Dr. Joy Hirokawa for many years. She has been a mentor to me, and I value the organization she has built.” She continues “I am excited to continue building upon this excellent foundation and bring a new element to the existing organization. I am beyond excited to work alongside Christopher Jackson to continue bringing top-notch choral singing to the Lehigh Valley.”