Going live with our brand new Pro Corda website is the new Pro Corda blog. I stress this won’t always be by me! Our coaches, course directors, and those involved with Pro Corda’s outreach work will also be scribbling down their thoughts along with the most important people of all – our students.

There will be two common themes which possibly won’t surprise you: Pro Corda and chamber music.

The two are of course one and the same. But, blessed as we are with Leiston Abbey as our permanent home (the only full time site in Europe dedicated to chamber music education) there will be a few blogs about the Abbey. With such an ancient and beautiful site it would seem strange for it not to form an integral part of the Pro Corda story. A story which has now entered an exciting new chapter as we turn the page from the Trust’s 50th Anniversary celebrations and enter Pro Corda’s next half century and all the possibilities that brings.

Andrew QuartermainCEO & Artistic Director

With such bulky segments of time in mind, I thought I’d make a start in this first article with an equally bulky topic (which arguably can’t be squeezed into a few paragraphs, but I don’t want to keep you from exploring the rest of our new website!) – The Universal Power of Chamber Music.

I write this not with the backdrop of 14 th century Suffolk flint that surrounds my office at the Abbey but with the rather delightful setting of rolling Tuscan hills as my view. A landscape nearly as expansive as the topic of chamber music itself, and a setting that is home this week to members of our Senior and Pro Corda North courses who are taking part in our annual Florence tour. They’ve performed two stunning concerts already this week in environments that will surely leave a life long impression on young minds. One to go at the time of writing before we bid a sad farewell to this incredible place for another year.

Although it’s not our usual year round setting, the excitement and joy of our students this week has formed a timely reminder for me of the very substance of the holy grail of chamber music training. A paradox that has struck me from the moment I took up post as CEO is that chamber music training is anything but what one reading at least of its name might imply. The word chamber as a classical description of social music making that brought people together in fine drawing rooms and supper parties also risks forging a perception to the outside eye of something that is closeted, enclosed, protected, – a “rare breed” of artistic performance even.

Yet surely this most incredible forum of human communication is the polar opposite of a closed door to a confined space. When seen through the ever important context of education, far from a door shut to secure a chamber, it is conversely the same door flung open to a wider world of endless possibility and opportunity.

Pro Corda’s Founders realised this crucial conundrum. Their vision of a music school was not a place just to prepare young instrumentalists for the next chapter of music careers, but rather a place to prepare young human beings for the next chapter of lives.

The skills that a “chamber” training gives do indeed prepare the young musician in a particularly refined way – they have to enter a new level on every front of musical performance. But the truly magical moment comes when the young chamber group is pushed out from the harbour of a week’s coaching and sets sail. There is no conductor. Each player’s unique responsibility to, on the one hand, anchor the performance’s togetherness but on the other, and in equal measure, to take risks and push boundaries is paramount.

In a digital age where we’ve received a hundred electronically generated “3rd party” instructions from a seemingly ever-more distant outside world before we’ve eaten breakfast, chamber music challenges our young to see the reverse. It invokes spontaneity, sensitivity, responsibility taking and proper leadership, empathy, and above all a level of human communication which, in a modern age that arguably should be bringing humankind together via technology and invention, ironically seems to be driving people apart.

Our challenge at Pro Corda, as we enter the next 50 years, is to ensure that the universal educational powers which lie at the heart of chamber music’s gift are made available for all who can benefit from that gift the most – from our core course young musicians to our outreach students (where its specific reach to those with autism will form a blog topic some time very soon.)

As we open the chamber’s door and look out, it seems that wider society needs more than ever before the incredible form of music-making that started life within the comfort inside. We must look outside the chamber to release the true magic of chamber music. The door must stay open!