Nestled in the depths of 14th century antiquity is one of Suffolk’s fastest growing venues and an absolute must for music lovers and foodies!
Leiston Abbey has always been a place of community, escape and nourishment. Since the late 70s it has been operated by Pro Corda Trust – one of Europe’s largest music schools. But since 2019 this magical site has also played host to a unique public concert series.
Pro Corda and Leiston Abbey’s CEO Andrew Quartermain is a concert pianist used to programming concerts throughout the country. “I realised we had a unique opportunity here at the Abbey” says Andrew. “We have some of the world’s most renowned concert artists coaching on our courses, we have the most remarkable venue, and we have our focus on great food and drink – its the perfect mix!”
And so was born the “Classical Chill” series – each concert a different theme and each paired to a specially themed menu; all served in the medieval Barn at the Abbey.
“For me, programming a concert is so similar to preparing a menu” says Andrew. “Its all about the right balance, those little extra special ingredients to add, and with the goal always of leaving our guests feeling they have escaped to something extraordinary. Last year we were so lucky with the arrival of the immensely gifted Natalia Harvey as our new Events and Catering Manager. Her menus have been such a hit.”
Natalia Harvey arrived from a wedding venue background and has devised new and innovative menus to form the perfect pairing to the Abbey’s concerts series – all focusing local growers and producers wherever possible, teaming up with some great names in Suffolk food and drink from Pesky Fish to Friday Street Farm and a recent pop up with Fisher’s Gin.
“Events, catering, and looking after our guests takes a huge amount of care, dedication and precision.” says Natalia. “The pressure of turning a special day into a special memory is a high I will never come down from.”
And the ever growing Classical Chill series audience seem to agree. Return custom is very high with many never missing a single dinner concert in the series!
“Being part of Pro Corda and Leiston Abbey isn’t like other jobs” says Natalia. “You’re part of a family. There is love, respect and friendship. And we all have a common interest in making a difference.”
Andrew Quartermain developed the Classical Chill series with radio presenter and violinist Noel Vine; and far from the pandemic forcing a pause it led to growth. “We realised people needed the escape of live music as never before. We were the first concert venue in the eastern region to re-open after the first lockdown. The first ones back we even performed in the car park! Then when it was safe we re-opened the beautiful Barn. Its a spacious environment, full of intrigue.” And after a sell out Christmas season, the team at Leiston Abbey have planned something for everyone in 2022. Forthcoming highlights include Classical Chill Romance on 12 February, just in time for Valentines Day; paired with a special romantic gala menu. Also German night on 5 March and Spanish night on 19 March – as always with specially chosen music, food and wine. The series offers incredible value for money. Tickets are £17.50 – meal and concert – and guests can upgrade to a VIP Fizz ticket for £25. Additional drinks can be purchased from the fully licensed bar.
For the perfect evening’s musical and culinary escape book now at
www.procorda.com/events or via the box office hotline 01728 831354.
If you want to indulge the mystical atmosphere of the Abbey for more than an evening and fancy your own spot of music making, there are also now the Piano Sanctuary Retreat weekends. With no experience needed, these offer the perfect blend of music course and weekend break in the country for adult beginners and existing learners at the piano.