One of the things that struck me the most during the revised summer course season was just how powerful and needed the emotional togetherness of chamber music is right now. As our summer course students returned after nearly 6 months away from their schools and the familiar structures of their normal lives, the feeling of togetherness was palpable, the connection within their ensembles electric, the joy on their faces magical.

Pro Corda’s summer courses also demonstrated another crucial practical fact at this ongoing time of national crisis (with new government regulations coming into force at the very moment I write this.) Chamber music coaching and performance is safe. It can be done in a suitably distanced way that does not impact the physical togetherness of the group. Its coaching can be no less engaged and invigorating, and its educational impact can be no less profound.

Andrew QuartermainCEO & Artistic Director

We are of course lucky at Leiston Abbey with the larger teaching spaces we have. But we want now to work with all our partner schools and others because small ensemble instrumental performance is something that can resound once again in classrooms and school halls across the country – just as it is already at Leiston Abbey – with risk properly mitigated, and educational and artistic results once again enlivened in a way which just cannot not (and will never be able to be) done online.

That is why we now go full steam ahead. Ensuring safety for all will be our number one priority at all times. But we must continue to bring each and every Pro Corda course and programme back in person and we will.

Some of this summer’s participants enjoying our lockdown courses and concerts

The chamber courses have returned, and our full programme announced for 2020-21 is now live. Our London Saturday School “Young String Experience” returns in October. Also in October we’ll see our first outreach workshops – all built on the core principles of chamber music – back in person. Here we continue to deliver a full programme online (which can be done very successfully) and to ensure we reach ALL our outreach students, including those we cannot bring back together in one space right now.

So as ever its about being adaptable, spontaneous, and imaginative – all the things chamber music teaches us! During lockdown I wrote about Pro Corda’s principle of taking chamber music out of the chamber. To unleash its potent properties on ALL in society who can benefit the most from them. The pandemic has propelled us to do that all the more. Both at Leiston Abbey and across the country – and watch this space for a brand new national Pro Corda schools programme to be announced.

But now is also the time to be safely back “in the chamber” where we can as well. In larger safe spaces meeting together once again in person to experience the thrill of the emotional togetherness chamber music brings at a time when we are still forced significantly apart via national rules. I will never forget as long as I live the joy on the faces of our students this last summer. That must be just the beginning of our journey to use chamber music as a healing tool and an instigating force for good not just in the music world, not even just in the education world, but in society in general.