We were very sorry to hear of the death of Di Lenihan on 12 April 2019. Di was held in the highest esteem by her colleagues all around New Zealand and occupied a key position in NZ choral music for several decades. The inaugural Chair of NZCF Southland, Di held that position for 28 years, stepping down in 2013 but remaining on the committee as Coordinator of The Big Sing for the Southland region. She was also on the NZCF Governance Board for 6 years and held the portfolios for The Big Sing, The Kids Sing and SingFest.
Di was passionate about the importance of nurturing the young singers of tomorrow by providing opportunities and resources for primary school choirs and was the driving force behind the creation of Hear Our Voices, NZCF’s handbook for leaders of primary school choirs. She gave valuable guidance on the overall structure and content of the book and ultimately ensured the project was carried through to completion.
Under Di’s directorship, Verdon College’s choir ‘Panache’ attended a number of The Big Sing Finales and travelled to Australia to take part in the International Festival of Music at the Sydney Opera House. Di was the Musical Director of the A Capella Singers for 15 years, before stepping down at the end of 2018. In 1995, she was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for her services to Music and was made a Life Member of the NZCF in 2013.
Over the weekend following Di’s death, tributes flowed in from singers and choral leaders from around the country who spoke of her tireless energy, deep integrity, enthusiasm, stylishness and the ever-present twinkle in her eye. She will be hugely missed by all who knew and worked with her.
Di’s funeral was held at St Theresa of Lisieux Church in Invercargill on Monday 15 April and featured performances by the A Capella Singers, The Don Street Singers (comprising former students of Di’s Panache choir from Verdon College) and soprano soloist Rebecca Ryan. Fittingly, Di’s coffin was carried out of the church to a rousing standing ovation from the hundreds of people present whose lives she had touched.