Music Department

Belle Canto Women's Choir

The Belle Canto women's choir is Harding's newest ensemble.  Beginning in the fall of 2011, the inaugural semester included 60 women, made up of music majors and non-majors.  The group performs secular and sacred pieces in concerts both on and off campus.  Belle Canto rehearses Tuesday and Thursdays at noon.


About our Director

Susan ShirelSusan Shirel joined the Harding faculty in 2011. Dr. Shirel completed her undergraduate work at Harding, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal and Instrumental Music Education in 2001.  She received a Master of Arts degree in Music Pedagogy from Texas Woman's University in 2007 and her Doctorate of Music in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Ball State University in 2018.

Ms. Shirel is a private instructor of voice as well as an instructor of music education and music appreciation courses.  Before joining Harding University, she was the Director of Choral Activities at Caldwell County High School from 2008-2011.


Auditions for Belle Canto are held during the four days before classes begin in August.

Incoming students often choose to attend Harding's Student Impact, which is a program to introduce them to campus life and activities.  Those who are interested in being a part of a choral group should choose the Choral Impact track of Student Impact, which allows them to participate in all of Impact's recreational and informative activities while also introducing them to Harding's vocal groups and providing an opportunity to audition.

It is not necessary to prepare anything for the choral audition.  We'll ask you to sing through "My Country, 'tis of Thee" a few times in different keys (music and words will be provided); you'll sing some five-note scales with piano accompaniment; you'll do a little sight-reading (you may use solfege syllables or numbers if you like, but no special technique is required); and we'll give you a short tonal memory test in which you'll sing back a few notes we play for you.

After auditions, we'll assign you to the singing group which we feel is best for you—the Chorus, Concert Choir, or Belle Canto.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Shirel at or 501-279-5709

Choral Alumni Scholarship Fund:
There are 2-3 choral scholarships that may be offered each year to non-majors singing with Harding choral groups.  To apply for this scholarship, please email Dr. Ganus or Dr. Neill.  A demonstration of solo singing and sight-reading will be part of the application process.

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Belle Canto is a part of the Music Department