Activities Unlimited students back together again!

Activities Unlimited weekend 15th - 16th May 2021

"A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make"

Pro Corda’s outreach staff and students had their biggest dream come true last weekend, being together again for a magical musical weekend exploring The Greatest Showman. Pro Corda flung open the doors of Leiston Abbey to welcome back 15 lucky outreach students for its first residential musical weekend since February 2020.

The young people celebrated their individuality through dance, drama, music and singing & signing. Pro Corda coaches were dazzled with stunning vocal performances, fluid dance routines and original arrangements of songs from the show. There was also a strong focus on mental health and well-being, taking inspiration from the theme of nature inspired by Mental Health Awareness week.

“They are amazing and have really made my confidence way better and they all are very kind to everyone. I love my Pro Corda family.”


– Activities Unlimited Student

The eagerly anticipated return performance of The Greatest Showman from Pro Corda’s All-Star outreach cast was a wonderful reminder of the last time they were last performing together at the Southbank in London. Like all West End performances returning to theatres this month, this show was the biggest and best yet.

Watch out world – Pro Corda’s outreach students are back with a bang!

And as an extra special treat one of our incredible students recorded their very own arrangement of Tightrope. Thank you to the amazing Joseph. You can watch his performance right here:

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Fabulous February Fundraiser

Thank you for all your support with Pro Corda’s Fabulous February Fundraiser!

Our friends at the DM Thomas Charitable Trust (the charitable arm of Hilton hotels and a long time sponsor of Pro Corda’s Create Together programme) had donated THREE incredible Hilton experiences to be won in the prize draw. Lots of people donated VERY generously and the prizes have now been announced!!! Read on for more details…

Our STAR prize was

A two night break for two adults
at the Hilton Lake Como in Italy!!

once all travel restrictions are lifted and it’s safe to travel abroad.

We have also given away:

A two night indulgent spa weekend for two adults
in a King Deluxe room at London's Syon Park Hotel
A two night bed and breakfast stay for two adults
at Puckrup Hall Golfing Resort in Tewkesbury
A Piano Sanctuary course of your choice for yourself or a friend
A gourmet hamper from Friday Street, Suffolk

The Pro Corda magic has reached some of the most disadvantaged and isolated young people during lockdown and, thank to your help, it will continue to do so.

The Fabulous February Fundraiser has been pivotal to allowing us to sustain the “dual Pro Corda” this year and keep our programmes online while bringing all our courses and programmes back in-person too. We needed your help to continue this amazing work for all our online provision from Create Together, Wherever! to ProCorda@home. And you delivered!

Every penny raised will allow Pro Corda’s online programmes to keep going throughout lockdown and remain free to access.

Thank you for your generosity!


The draw has now taken place in the famous “Greatest Showman” hat and the winners have been announced on the Piano Sanctuary on Air podcast. Click through to hear all the excitement and find out if you’re a lucky winner!!!

To have a chance of winning one of these stunning prizes:

Fill in the form here with your name, contact details and your donation to the vital lockdown work of Pro Corda.

The deadline for entries has been extended to 11.59am on Saturday 13th February 2021

The lucky winners will be drawn out of the “Greatest Showman Hat” live on a special edition of “Piano Sanctuary On Air” podcast which will be live on the Pro Corda website or our Live at the Abbey soundcloud page at 4pm on Sunday 14th February.


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Pro Corda Festival 2021 Update

Pro Corda will still be running its national schools’ festival this year.

We understand that many schools will not have students in for at least this half of term, and many groups within home learning are unable to rehearse. We will therefore work with all our entrant schools to offer a flexible chamber masterclass and creative workshop series to suit schools. This can be offered online or in person as regulations ease. It means the Festival is kept alive this year, at a time when the social and educational powers of chamber music are needed more than ever before.

However, for this year, the festival will be non competitive. All that we do this school year within the festival – both this term and next – will provide a great foundation for a really exciting Chamber Music Festival in its usual format in Spring 2022.

Some of the amazing performers at the 2020 festival

How will it work in 2021?

For this year’s festival we need to conform to all current government guidelines. With most students out of schools for at least this half-term we are therefore offering our entrant schools an exciting flexible online Chamber Music Masterclass Series and creative workshop series to suit school.

These live online masterclasses can be booked as day or half-day events as your Chamber Music Festival experience in 2021. All masterclass groups will receive a Pro Corda Chamber Music Festival certificate signed by our Patron, Julian Lloyd Webber.

Crucially, the online masterclasses can be opened up to further students within your department. Given the restrictions on rehearsals, maybe your chamber ensemble isn’t quite there yet for full performance or you have younger/less advanced students and want to introduce them to the magic of chamber music – we will be using special creative ensemble improvisation techniques for this. Leading international chamber artists will lead the masterclasses which will be broadcast live to your school from our stunning 14th Century Guesten Hall and “Pro Corda Live” studio at Leiston Abbey.

If you have any questions about the Chamber Music Festival please do contact our CEO, Andrew Quartermain through via the form below.

We look forward to working with you in 2021!

Pro Corda Festival Judge Laura Feeney
with 2019 winners

The Pro Corda Festival is the only national festival to exclusively promote and celebrate chamber music within schools. It is available to all instrumental ensembles between three and nine players. The festival is a fantastic annual celebration of chamber music education in the UK. It has become a prestigious event with many schools being eager to be involved.

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Piano Sanctuary - a film

Click on our short film to get the true flavour of Piano Sanctuary. A very special place, a unique programme , and tailor made for each adult learner’s wishes and desired outcomes; Piano Sanctuary really does offer something for everyone…..

To find our more about Piano Sanctuary, our Online Courses, Retreats and Podcasts please click the button. From there you can also get in touch and get involved. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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Leading the Way - a film

Please enjoy this beautiful film, made possible by the Max Reinhardt Trust and produced by Veronica Reinhardt and Graham Maughan. Filmed throughout the 6th of our summer chamber series it tells not only the story of the magic of Pro Corda, but the very special coming together once again of our incredible family of students after lockdown. The film really does speak for itself and will hopefully resonate with all who are part of Pro Corda, and many who are not yet.

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BBC Children in Need & our Virtual Theatre

BBC Children in Need have been at the heart of enabling Pro Corda’s sustained “Create Together, Wherever!” digital programme for our many students with special needs over lockdown. Families, parents and siblings have been at the heart of this programme. Pro Corda Create Together has always been rooted in the whole family and working with parents and carers, and the lockdown period obviously brought this network of constant communication and sharing closer together still.

Our families were constantly telling us how the online provision was a lifeline at the time when so many resources for children and young adults with additional needs were cut off – and not least many of their schools and colleges.

The BBC asked us to start filming and producing video diaries to chart this journey, and have put these together in a poignant film they have shared across BBC and Pudsey social media. Alongside the coverage Pro Corda regularly receives from BBC Radio (with a BBC London feature next week for example) and also our coverage on BBC Look East, this films adds to the range of films charting Pro Corda’s work across all its programmes during the national crisis.

Watch the BBC film here:

Our relationship with Pudsey himself goes back over 15 years, when our programme for special educational needs first started. As Children in Need itself celebrates 40 years this November, we are so grateful for all the financial help the BBC have given Create Together since its inception, and the belief the BBC has placed in our unique work in this area which itself lies at the heart of Pro Corda.

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The return of Chamber Music - on every level!

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 Quartermain
CEO & 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.

Statement from our CEO

As many of you know, when we re-opened our doors at Leiston Abbey on 4th July we were the first course provider in the UK to do so. We were also one of the first venues, nationally to bring public concerts back. Now 11 courses, and 4 concerts in after the reopening, the revised systems we have in place to make both our residential courses and concerts safe are working well. We review all systems at all times. From the revised catering arrangements to increased deep cleans, my first priority at all times is the safety of our ever growing Pro Corda family.

As an education setting and concert venue, we are able to continue in exactly the same way we have since July within the new Government rules. I will be putting a few extra measures in place:

  • Concert audiences will be seated in safely distanced pods of 6.
  • We will continue our stringent registration processes on first days of courses, and also as people arrive at the box office for concerts.

We’ve announced our full course programme for 2020-21 – for now with more shorter courses for smaller numbers to allow for single bedroom occupancy. I hope that by Easter 2021 we can return to the traditional format of larger 8 day courses. But we will serve all our incredible Pro Corda students with this month and next also seeing the return in person of YSE, our London Saturday School, and our Create Together workshops for children with additional needs (the latter continuing to run online to ensure we reach everyone.) We will continue to have sensible, workable and safe covid policies in place across all areas and, as ever, please do get in touch if you have queries or concerns.

Thank you to you all for all your ongoing support.

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Create Together, Wherever! Autumn 2020

We’re thrilled to announce our Create Together, Wherever! series for the Autumn! During the Autumn and through to Christmas, we’ll continue to see our incredible Pro Corda Create Together family online – AND we’ll be carefully and safely bringing back in-person workshops.

Announcing the new autumn Create Together, Wherever! programme.

Andrew, Laura, Kelly, Elly, Dan & Noel are all super excited to announce the new autumn Create Together, Wherever! programme.

We hope that you can all make space in your diaries at 5:00pm each Friday for Pro Corda workshops. We are going to take one show each month and explore it through drama, creative musicianship and yoga and then perform together on the 4th Friday of each month! We will be running workshops every Friday up to the 18th December with a break for half term on Friday 30th October.


Join Elly exploring the characters and plots of the show

Friday 2nd October


Friday 6th November


Join Andrew, Laura & Noel to create new music inspired by the show

Friday 18th September


Friday 9th October


Friday 13th November


Friday 4th December


Join Kelly exploring creative yoga practise inspired by the show

Friday 11th September


Friday 16th October


Friday 20th November


Friday 11th December


Join the whole Pro Corda team for SHOWTIME!

Friday 25th September


Friday 23rd October


Friday 27th November


Friday 18th December

Join the workshops via the website front page – the link will go live at 4:45pm every Friday. Also, keep checking the website for singing & signing and dance videos from Kelly & Laura. We would love for everyone to join in with as many of the activities as they would like to – creativity has NO LIMITS!

Don’t forget you can access tons of fantastic content from some truly wonderful musicals that the Create Together, Wherever! cast have been putting on since March. Click through to Musical Theatre and Go Create to discover more.

Safely bringing back our in-person Create Together, Wherever! courses.

And starting on 17th October at Leiston Abbey we will be bringing back our weekend Create Together courses, as one-day workshops to start with. This Friday also sees the resumption of our Create Together workshops at our partner schools. Pro Corda will be in action at Sunnydown School in Caterham on Friday!”

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Leiston Abbey

2020-21 Course Season

Following all the guidelines, we’ve had a wonderful series of courses this summer – it’s been fantastic to hear chamber music, laughter and joy coming from every corner of Leiston Abbey!

Now, with just over 2 weeks to the start of September, we cannot wait to announce Pro Corda’s 2020-21 course season. Thanks to the whole Pro Corda family coming together, Pro Corda has been able to restart its courses ahead of many other providers which – together with the support of key funders like Arts Council England and BBC Children and Need – has formed part of a very intensive period of courses and online programmes during the national crisis. There is no let up and we plan for 2021 to be our golden year. Annabel and Andrew will be writing to all families in time for the start of September and watch this space for more details on our exciting 2020-21 season!

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Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey