The Pro Corda Festival 2024

From Andrew, our CEO:

With a few weeks to reflect on the exciting two months of the Pro Corda Schools Festival 24, I’m left with one overriding thought

– that the next generation really do bring great hope for the future!

Chamber music’s unique ability to bring people together in a profound way, most especially at difficult times for national and international society, is something that always shines hope and optimism on our world. But to see the way young people react to this medium; and the way they share, negotiate, and fuse unique and diverse personalities to enable a creative endeavor that is greater than the sum of its parts is really the most special thing of all to witness.

2024 saw the largest Pro Corda Schools’ Festival in its history. This brought many things…. An incredible standard of playing across the many and diverse young musicians that took part. More variety of instrumental combinations within the ensembles than ever before. More state sector school entries than ever before (something we will work non-stop to increase further via the year round Pro Corda Creative Ensembles series.) And of course a true “festival buzz” at each and every round.

As I drove across the countryside, from qualifiers to semi-finals to National Finals day, my own sense of optimism about what chamber music can do for UK music education intensified as never before.

At a time when music curriculum nationally is so challenged, the very concept of small ensemble training is surely needed now more than ever. Both the process and the result enlivens musicianship and performance skills in such an acute way. The sense of leadership in equal measure to creative spontaneity needed on stage for live small ensemble performance is a truly pivotal and life long musical and artistic training. But above all it is a life training. That is what shone through each day of Festival 24. The sparky unique characters, the warm collaboration, the individuality in equal measure to the togetherness. These are the things which inspire such hope.

Here’s to Festival 25!

So that’s it for another incredible year of the Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival for Schools.

If YOUR school would like to get involved next year we will be opening up the 2025 Festival in September 2024. Follow us on social media and you will be the first to hear all the details of the new Festival.

Thank you to everyone who has participated and helped us along the 2024 Festival journey.

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Leiston Abbey

The Next Chapter

From Andrew, our CEO:

As many of you know, there will be major works carried out at Leiston Abbey to coincide with the commencement of the Sizewell C project. Pro Corda are using this as an exciting opportunity to remodel our programmes and strengthen our reach as the national provider of chamber music education.

Pro Corda will move the majority of its courses and programmes away from Leiston Abbey for the next few years.

With this, we are massively increasing our schools delivery. Our existing National Chamber Music Festival for Schools will be grown to take in a year-round Pro Corda workshop and masterclass series. This expansion will allow us to work with schools and areas where there is little or no chamber music, and widen the geographical reach of chamber music at a time when its pivotal educational benefits are needed in national music curriculum and beyond as never before.

So what will change?

  • The Pro Corda Festival itself will remain in the Spring.

 

  • Our existing “Create Together” programme for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) schools will be delivered as courses and sustained workshop series at our partner schools – allowing us to work with five times more students.

  • Our founding residential chamber music courses serving each age tier will remain and be held at new stunning offsite venues in Devon and Cambridge as flagship summer series.

 

  • We will continue to run programmes for the local community at Leiston Abbey during the works – including our provision for children and young adults with additional needs from Suffolk.

 

  • Our Piano Sanctuary series for adult learners will also continue at the Abbey for now.

These changes represent the biggest remodelling of Pro Corda in its history. I’m delighted that the chamber courses which were our foundation stone will continue to be at the heart of the programme (at new stunning facilities for the forthcoming seasons) and that, alongside this, Pro Corda’s mission will reach the heart of classrooms and schools halls up and down the country, widening our access as never before at a particularly crucial time nationally.

Got any questions?

We will be releasing loads more information over the coming weeks and months as soon as we are able.

But we also understand that this is a big change for lots of you, and you will inevitably have questions.

Please do get in touch by clicking the button here and we will answer your questions as best as we can.
You can also call us during office hours on 01728 831354.

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Leiston Abbey

New Associate Director

From Andrew, our CEO:

“I’m really excited to pass on my appointment of Liz Winter as Associate Director of Pro Corda. Liz will join me to focus our ongoing fundraising drive, and a very exciting development plan, as we expand our provision to more groups than ever before.”

From Liz:

“I’m greatly looking forward to working with Andrew and the Pro Corda team at this exciting juncture in the school’s history. Andrew and I have worked together many times over two decades. Now Pro Corda faces new opportunities within the changing arts and music education landscapes . It’s always been our mission to deliver first class music teaching to meet all abilities and needs. Pro Corda represents the best in music education and this has never been more relevant. It is a great privilege to be joining the school at this very exciting time.”

Liz was for 20 years Director of Development at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where she oversaw a number of major fundraising and alumni campaigns, including a number of significant capital projects. She worked closely with the College community and alumni to considerably increase bursary funds and in turn widen greatly the student demographic. She has also worked closely as a development consultant for the Centre for Geopolitics and the Woolf Institute, Cambridge University and currently serves on the Advisory Council of the LPO.

We look forward to Liz being part of the Pro Corda story and hearing lots more from her in the coming weeks and months.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Matthew

It’s a brand new year and life at Pro Corda continues at pace! We are so excited for what is to come over the next few weeks and months. And all of that is only possible because of our amazing team. These are the wonderful people who make Pro Corda the magical institution that it is. And so we want to continue introducing you to some of them.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one!

Next up it’s someone known to many of you as our Intermediate Course Director.

Meet Matthew

Who are you?

“Matthew Jones”

What do you do?

“I direct the Intermediate course for 14-16 year olds each summer”

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“Roughly 12 years”

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“The privilege of witnessing the evolution of the students through each course and from year to year, and the continuous reminder of the potency of chamber music in their lives”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda?

“So many to choose from! There have been a few concerts in which a group that has struggled to work through the week to overcome challenges and then have raised their game to a new level and given all they had in a concert – those moments are incredibly gratifying to see. The other memory is a more random one – of a murder mystery New Year’s Eve party on a course ten years ago where all the staff and students entered wholeheartedly into the spirit of the event.”

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“Difficult one, but one highlight in recent years has to be hearing the Danish String Quartet playing an unforgettable Beethoven quartet as part of a concert with Ensemble Midtvest (of which i was a member) in a chamber festival in Denmark; we played Mendelssohn and Gade octets with them in the second half which was also a huge treat.”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Sian

We continue our series introducing you to some of our amazing team. These are the wonderful people who make Pro Corda the magical institution that it is.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one!

Next up it’s the person who looks after our incredible Leiston Abbey site!

Meet Sian

Who are you?

“I am Sian, I’m the Leiston Abbey Site Supervisor and Assistant Administrator

What do you do?

“I assist with the day-to-day operations in the office and provide admin support to the Course Directors. Within my Site Supervisor role, I oversee the security and maintenance of the Leiston Abbey grounds and buildings on site.” 

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“12 years.

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“I love the fantastic work we do with children and young adults with additional needs.”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda?

“I have lots of lovely memories but the one that stands out the most is when I got married here at Leiston Abbey. It was a perfect day!”

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Ipswich in 2006!”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Helen

After another brilliant Piano Sanctuary Retreat weekend at Leiston Abbey we thought it would be great to introduce you to one of our superstar coaches.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Piano Sanctuary such a special one!

Meet Helen

Who are you?

“Helen Reid. I am a coach on the Piano Sanctuary Retreat weekends.”

What do you do?

“I am a pianist, giving solo and chamber music concerts. I teach piano and accompaniment at Bristol University. I run the Professional Studies course at the Guildhall School and mentor on the PGCert course there.” 

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda / Piano Sanctuary?

“I think I coached on my first adult piano course about 15 years ago!”

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda / Piano Sanctuary?

“Spending the weekend with people from different walks of life who are brought together by a love of the piano.”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda / Piano Sanctuary?

“I don’t have one particular memory, but the moments that stay with me are watching people’s confidence and belief in themselves as pianists develop.”

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“Recently, I have to say watching my son perform as a jazz drummer for the first time( aged 11) at the Bristol Pre-Conservatoire concert. The whole concert was a celebration of young people making music together and it was wonderful.  I also loved seeing Elton John in Bristol a couple of weeks ago!”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Priscilla

We are in the midst of a series introducing you to some of our amazing team. These are the wonderful people who make Pro Corda the magical institution that it is.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one!

Next up it’s the person who co-ordinates all our fantastic Pro Corda volunteers – the people who make everything possible!

Meet Priscilla

Who are you?

“I am Priscilla, I’m a trustee with Pro Corda and I help coordinate all our wonderful volunteers

What do you do?

“I am a volunteer and work across the charity in a variety of roles. I consider it a privilege to be Front Of House at evening concerts, support the staff and students on residential courses and fill the gaps! Never an idle or dull moment!” 

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“I feel as though I have been at Pro Corda for a long time as I am so comfortable there, but it is only about 3 years.

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“Feeling part of a team and working with inspirational, talented and dedicated artists who care deeply about giving positive and life enhancing experiences to every student.”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda?

“They are still being made!”

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“I cannot pick one out, each event evokes an emotional response. It is a particular joy to witness transformative experiences particularly with children and adults with additional needs.”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Anita

We are in the midst of a series introducing you to some of our amazing team. These are the wonderful people who make Pro Corda the magical institution that it is.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one!

Next up it’s the Director of our Prep Course and Pro Corda West!

Meet Anita

Who are you?

“I am Anita Strevens, Director of Pro Corda Preparatory course and Pro Corda West.” 

What do you do?

“Audition prospective students, create the chamber music groups, decide on the music they will play and book a wonderful team of staff to inspire the students.

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“About 25 years!

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“The speed with which a group of like-minded youngsters become a cohesive and creative set of musicians.”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda?

“Seeing a small group of 8-year olds singing the Macarena with actions on the grass outside Guesten Hall, then gradually, the entire course joining in with huge enthusiasm!

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“Two…one of my sons playing Saint-Saens cello concerto at university, the other son playing keyboard in a band in a pub!”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Sarah

We are in the midst of a series introducing you to some of our amazing team. These are the wonderful people who make Pro Corda the magical institution that it is.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one!

Next up it’s someone who started helping on the SEND course 12 years ago and is now our brilliant Primary Course Director.

Meet Sarah

Who are you?

“I am Sarah Carvalho-Dubost, musician, wife and mum of two daughters.”

What do you do?

“I play a lot of chamber music, mostly with Ensemble Reza and Trio Salona. I also teach the cello and chamber music.”

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“I was working at Pro Corda about 12 years ago on the SEND courses. I am so happy to be back for the last four years teaching on the cello course, and this year directing the Primary Chamber music course.😀”

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“Only one thing? I love seeing the children enjoying their time making music together and socialising in such a stunning setting that Leiston Abbey is.”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda?

“We just finished the Primary Course and I think it will be my favourite memory from now because the children got on so well! And they completely embraced all the music and the teaching we gave them with such enthusiasm!”

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“Difficult to single one out because it is always a special treat to listen to live music and I am quite sensitive to beautiful music. But I do have a soft spot for some incredible World music concerts like Pink Martini or Buena Vista Social Club!”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Dominic

We are in the midst of a series introducing you to some of our amazing team. These are the wonderful people who make Pro Corda the magical institution that it is.

Below you can read their mini-interviews, ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one!

Next up it’s someone who started at Pro Corda as an eight year old, and has never looked back!

Meet Dominic

Who are you?

“Dominic Moore. I am director of the Senior Course, and I also coach for Piano Sanctuary and adjudicate for the Chamber Music Festival”

What do you do?

“I play the violin, viola and piano, and direct my own chamber ensemble ‘St George’s Chamber Orchestra’, based in Beckenham. I also lead Buckinghamshire based Alina Orchestra, I am a violinist in the orchestra for the West End production of Phantom of the Opera, and teach violin and viola at New Hall School, Chelmsford”

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“I first came to Pro Corda as a student 40 years ago. My violin teacher was one of the founders, Pamela Spofforth; lessons took place in the home of Pro Corda’s other founder, Elizabeth Hewlins. In fact, I came to Pro Corda from the age of 8 to 18. On one particularly memorable course, aged about 13, I met another student who you may have heard of – Andrew Quartermain!!”

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“The Pro Corda spirit is inspiring and grounding. Pro Corda has changed in many ways over the 40 years I have been involved, but the spirit has not!”

What’s your favourite memory about your time with Pro Corda?

“A recent favourite memory is spending my daughter’s first ever New Year’s Eve at Leiston Abbey. We all stood outside the chapel (I was carrying my daughter!), we waved sparklers and watched the fireworks projected onto the chapel wall. After Big Ben chimed we went inside the chapel where the students gave a stunning performance of the Allegri Miserere. It was the most magical New Year’s and was such an extraordinary experience for our young daughter.”

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

“The concerts I enjoy the most are those given by our wonderful Pro Corda students!”

We hope you have enjoyed learning something about our incredible team.

If you would like to ask them a question, or tell them how they made your experience of Pro Corda such a special one then please leave your comment below. We will try and get back to you as soon as we can.

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Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey