Festival Rules

Categories and performance durations:

As of 31/08/2020, all participants to be aged:

  • Under 12 (U12) – max 5 minutes
  • Under 14 (U14) – max 8 minutes
  • Under 16 (U16) – max 10 minutes
  • Under 19 (U19) – max 12 minutes

Pro Corda reserves the right to only hear one movement or section of a work if it is over the time limit.


For a chamber music group to be eligible, it must at the time of entry consist of students attending either a school where music is not the main curricular area or attend a music group as an extra-curricular activity, such as a Saturday music class or practice group. Home-educated groups are also welcome. Groups must consist of a minimum of 3 players and a maximum of 9 players.

A participant may be entered in no more than two groups on the same instrument. Substitutes are not permitted after the qualifying round.

Ineligible groups:
  • Any group containing a pupil for whom music is the main curricular activity at a full-time specialist music school.
  • Any group requiring a conductor.
  • Any group requiring amplification.
  • Any group where there is doubling of parts (i.e. more than one performer on any part) with the exception of cello/bassoon continuo parts.

If there is any doubt as to whether a group is eligible, please check first with Pro Corda in the first instance.


Pro Corda does not proffer any definition of chamber music: each panel of adjudicators will have absolute discretion to decide the matter without regard to any form of precedent.

Groups should avoid choosing a work which could be considered to be a solo with accompaniment rather than a work of relatively equal parts.

Jazz and world music works are welcome as long as they fit into the above criteria.

Music scores:

A music score for each work must be provided for all the festival events. If one does not exist, one can be made using music notation software. Bar numbers/letters should be inserted in the score for the adjudicators and should coincide between score and parts. The Festival will not condone any breaches of the law of copyright: this may result in disqualification.

Warming up:

Each group will be allocated a warming up session of not less than 15 minutes duration in the hour immediately preceding performance: groups with harpsichord and larger ensembles might in certain cases be directed to warm up in the performance hall.

Harpsichord: please provide your own instrument if you wish to use a harpsichord. Electronic keyboards are allowed if no harpsichord is available.

Scheduling of performances:

Groups might be called on to perform up to half an hour earlier or later than scheduled – groups should be available, ready and prepared to do so.


Adjudicators will tutor each group immediately after each performance in qualifying and semi-final rounds. Emphasis will be on encouragement and constructive suggestions. Certificates of achievement will be awarded to all finalists. The decision of the panel of adjudicators is final.

Qualifying rounds:

Pro Corda will do its best to allocate preferred times, dates and venues for performances, but reserves the right to specify a time, date or venue not in accordance with the stated preference of the group, where the practicalities of the timetable demand it.


Pro Corda will allocate registration and performance times as it deems to be in the best interests of the event as a whole. Groups should ensure they are free for the whole of the semi-final in their region and will be encouraged to listen to other performances in their part of the day.

Finals day:

Pro Corda will allocate performance times as it deems to be in the best interest of the event as a whole. “Chamber Champions” from different age categories will be announced and these groups will be offered additional performing opportunities over the following 12 months.

Travelling and accommodation:

Pro Corda regrets that it cannot assist with travelling or accommodation arrangement or costs.


Any establishment or endorser who enters an ineligible pupil or group whose representative breaks any of the rules and regulations or commits misconduct, will cause the disqualification of that group.

Prohibitions and disclaimers:

The schools or other establishments that make their facilities available to the Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival for Schools do not represent Pro Corda in any way. Please do not contact these schools directly regarding any aspect of the Festival’s events, other than to notify late arrival or withdrawal on the day in question. Pro Corda disclaims responsibility for the injury to participants or for the damage or loss of instruments howsoever caused at any of the Festival’s events.


The results from each round will be published on Pro Corda’s website. A written adjudicator’s report will be forwarded to the person in whose name the entry is made.

We look forward to seeing you. GOOD LUCK!