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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Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Laura

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 one of the most well-known members of our team. Our very own SEND music specialist and singing & signing legend!

Meet Laura

Who are you?

“I’m Laura Feeney, viola player, SEND music specialist and a singing & signing legend! I’m also Mummy to Pro Corda’s very own Head of Cuteness, Canela.”

What do you do?

“I’m Creative Director of Outreach and the Pro Corda Academy. In a nutshell, I create & direct programmes that utilise the incredible transformative power of chamber music to benefit the wider community. Cool, right?!” 

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“This is a great question! You might say that I am a Pro Corda protégé! I still clearly remember the first time Leiston Abbey took my breath away in 2012, as an undergraduate coming along for an intensive (and very cold!) February viola bootcamp. I then became part of the pastoral team for core courses and was lucky enough to be selected as a Leverhulme Fellow later that year. The rest is history!”

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“Oh gosh, there are so many things I love about Pro Corda. It has been the most supportive and inspiring environment for me to develop my career. I adore Pro Corda’s core ethos. All programmes have wellbeing and self-worth at the heart, with the wider benefits of communication and teamwork. It’s amazing to be able to be a key part of the artistic team, creating and developing programmes that have such worthy educational and social outcomes.
Also (fun fact) I did apply to read History at University alongside auditioning for Music colleges. I’m delighted that my office is built into the fabric of such an amazing historical site!”

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

“There are so many! I am so lucky to have the best seat in the house for all the outreach performances. Directing the performances, I get to experience, up close the magical moments when the students embrace the spotlight and light up the room. No matter how many times you experience it, those moments never lose their sparkle or shine. I’m so lucky to experience this with so many young people each year, ranging from a little moment of eye contact to taking total ownership of the stage. It also gives me goosebumps when our students are given opportunities to show the wider world their talents. I love being able to collaborate with partners such as BBC Children in Need to champion how fabulous our superstars are!”

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

“I believe that the best concerts are the ones that provide you with a full holistic experience, and make you think! In 2011 I went to a concert that made me re-evaluate the function of music. Two blind Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam performed “In the dark” as part of Manchester International Festival. The room was pitch black so that the audience could experience music in the same way as the performers. It was such a joyous celebration and gave me a new perspective on the transformative power of music. I guess you could say that it had a big impact on me!”

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

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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Chamber Music Courses
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.

Back to Latest News
Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Natalia

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 our superstar chef, baker, and creator of all the wonderful treats across the Pro Corda and Piano Sanctuary courses!

Meet Natalia

Who are you?

“I am Natalia Harvey, mum to four children and a military wife” 

What do you do?

“I am the new Director of Events and Catering and master baker of theatrical and unusual cakes!

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“I’m a newbie and the latest addition to the team as I’ve only been here 10 months

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“Well the food I make is pretty good but, in all honesty, my job in general is just a dream to do and I love the work Pro Corda do with our outreach programmes. And I suppose I should say I love working with Amanda too as she mentioned me ;o)”

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

“As I’ve only been here a short while I don’t have memories as such, but I love being involved with our Activities Unlimited weekends and the work we do with special needs children and young adults. I have an autistic son so the work Pro Corda do for these incredibly special individuals is something very close to my heart

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

“‘BEYONCE!! Always! I’m a superfan and would leave my husband in a heartbeat to marry her instead!!”

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.

Back to Latest News
Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Katy

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 organises so much of all the brilliant things that Pro Corda does.

Meet Katy

Who are you?

“I am Katy Osborne-Palmer, Schools and Educational Programmes Administrator and PA to the CEO. And this is Ted!” 

What do you do?

“I work in the main office and oversee the administration for schools and educational programmes. This includes admin for AU weekends and the National Chamber Music Festival for Schools and our concert box office. I also oversee the admin for our Piano Sanctuary weekends and am Andrew Quartermain’s PA.

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“8 years.

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“The fact that it is so inclusive.”

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

“The Pro Corda 50th Anniversary Gala at The Southbank Centre in London. Our Activities Unlimited students performed and then we went out on the street, and they gave another, impromptu, performance and people stopped to watch and cheered them on. It was magical.

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

“‘Gong’ at Premises in Norwich. They are a progressive space rock and jazz band and the soundtrack to my youth. It was the last tour their lead singer Daevid Allen did before he died, and it was very special.”

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.

Back to Latest News
Chamber Music Courses
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.

Back to Latest News
Chamber Music Courses
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.

Back to Latest News
Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey

Meet the Team - Jodie

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 works tirelessly in the background supporting all our Course Directors and plans and programmes on-site.

Meet Jodie

Who are you?

“Jodie Squirrell, Administrator”

What do you do?

“I provide administrative support to the Course Directors and oversee the general admin for the courses as well as private hire bookings.”

How long have you been involved with Pro Corda?

“14 years”

Tell us one thing you love about Pro Corda?

“The view from my office. Leiston Abbey is truly beautiful. It’s such a peaceful place to work.”

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

“I have lots of special memories. It’s hard to pick just one. My husband and I lived on site for about 5 years and we started a family here. Both my sister and my best friend got married at the abbey. It’s a very special place.”

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

“Rudimental in Thetford Forest in 2016 was amazing!”

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.

Back to Latest News
Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey

Pro Corda Festival 2022

Sunday saw the conclusion of a truly extraordinary Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival for Schools.

There has possibly never been a more important time for our National Festival (the only festival of its kind celebrating chamber music in schools across UK) to make a come back. In terms of the full festival, it was the first since 2019. In 2020 we so nearly got there, but with the pandemic’s seriousness becoming ever more apparent in early March that year we didn’t quite make it to the national finals. In January to March 2021 we were mid lockdown. A few schools had managed to get enough groups together for masterclass days but the Festival didn’t really operate beyond that.

Some of the amazing performers at the 2022 festival

This year covid was no less apparent with upwards of 60% of the participating ensembles impacted by absences due to the virus (not to mention most of the adjudicators!) But through multiple reschedules we all found our way through qualifying and semi-final rounds full of excitement and anticipation – and arriving at a Finals day like no other at Millfield School on Sunday. It seemed fitting that the perfect chamber acoustic of Millfield’s Hall and the inspirational surrounding countryside formed the backdrop to a Finals that seemed to speak so powerfully about why chamber music’s come back in schools is so crucial right now.

The incredible standard from such a diverse range of ensembles was a joy to witness in itself. But chamber music in schools performs two critical functions beyond just high standard music making right now – both functions on such moving display at this year’s finals.

It was science not music that got society through the pandemic, but for our festival participant students across the country it was the ever-nurturing togetherness of chamber music which formed such social nourishment after such prolonged periods of remote learning and loneliness.

But further to that, we couldn’t have predicted when planning the Festival’s post-pandemic return that its first full Finals for three years would coincide with a new international crisis – this time a manmade one. And here, the wider social remits of chamber music and its powerful educational resonances have more compelling voice than ever. For, surely, it is education which will, long-term, be our weapon against evil and conflict in this world. And within education could there not be a better lesson in the values of human togetherness and diversity, of social responsible leadership and compassionate team work in equal measure, than chamber music.

Our Chamber Champions 2022

As we witnessed such high standard on Sunday, it was these wider educational resonances that truly echoed. With this it must always be our shared mission to ensure chamber music thrives in every school music department, including the many where it does not yet. This is where our new Pro Corda Academy scheme comes in – lots more of that to come. And it was thrilling to witness the winners of this year’s Chamber Music Festival Finals trophy collect their award – a new partner school for Pro Corda… the City Foundation Boys School – a state school serving 51% pupil premium students and just starting their chamber music journey. They, like all our participants this year, showed us on Sunday that there is truly hope for the future.

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Chamber Music Courses
Leiston Abbey