Rydal Penrhos: Diana’s fame with Self Isolation Choir
June 24, 2020

A former Rydal Penrhos pupil gained national fame for her efforts with a musical initiative during the coronavirus lockdown.

Diana Smith, who attended Penrhos College before the merger that created Rydal Penrhos, made the most of her time during lockdown by joining a Self-Isolation Choir for a special online performance of Handel’s Messiah last month.

This attracted the interest of more than 3,500 people from across the globe, and Diana described her involvement as “the most amazing uplifting experience with some wonderful soloists and orchestra”.

The choir even managed to get some national television coverage on BBC News and breakfast television, which was shown across the country.

Mrs Smith, who was also on the governing body at Rydal Penrhos, said: “I first sang The Messiah in 1964 in Colwyn Bay with a joint performance of the Penrhos and Rydal School Choirs and my love of choral singing was born.

“Kay Arthur conducted the concert and I remember Chris Underwood (son of the Prep School Head Kenneth) sang the tenor solo.

“He went on to become a Choral Scholar at King’s College. Later on, I sang it again with the Cambridge Philharmonic in Kings, also in the Albert Hall and various other venues, so it’s meant a lot to me throughout my life.”

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer.