The Hutchins Consort plays on the eight scaled violins of the violin octet designed and built by famed luthier Dr. Carleen Hutchins. The instruments are the first successful attempt to create an acoustically balanced set of instruments that can sound truly like violins across the entire range of written music. With instruments ranging from the tiny treble violin, tuned one octave above the standard violin, to the gigantic large bass violin, tuned one octave lower than a 'cello, the Hutchins Consort produces an astonishing palette of sounds.
The Hutchins violins were created during Carleen Hutchins’ many decades of research into the physics of traditional string instruments. Dr. Hutchins’ research into the acoustic properties of string instruments resulted in an innovative process called free-plate tuning; a precise method of refining the top and back plates of a violin before it is assembled to bring it to peak acoustic performance.
The fruits of her labor are the eight Hutchins violins, ranging in size from the 18.5-inch treble to the 7.2-foot contrabass. During her lifetime, Dr. Hutchins built approximately 300 instruments, around 100 of which are the scaled violins, making the Hutchins violin octet instruments among the rarest instruments in the world.
Education and Outreach
The Hutchins Consort presents an array of education and outreach programs each year. Programs are tailored to the needs of the community served, and range from story-based programs for preschoolers to lifelong learning
programs for assisted living facility residents.
The audience becomes an integral part of each performance, whether joining the musicians onstage, suggesting themes for improvisation, or assisting with storytelling. Each program explores a unique theme, incorporating classical music with current and popular works, all arranged for the
Hutchins Consort or a smaller group of Consort members.
Past themes have included Superheroes, Shakespeare, Songs of the Birds, Klezmer, and the diaspora of Africa and India. Curriculum-based programs are particularly well-suited for science classes, exploring the unique physics aspects of the Hutchins octet.
Education and outreach is an integral part in the Consort’s work, symbiotic with its mainstage programming; educational programs are often incubators for more extensive mainstage performances, and mainstage performances
frequently inform educational offerings.
SECOND FIDDLE - Our Documentary Trailer
Carleen Maley Hutchins' research into the acoustic properties of string instruments resulted in an innovative process called free-plate tuning; a precise method of refining the top and back plates of a violin before it is assembled to bring it to peak acoustic performance. The discoveries made by Dr. Hutchins and the instruments she created that prove her theories will write a new chapter in music history.
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Cynthia Wade believes this is a story that needs to be told. Her film, "Second Fiddle," documents Dr. Hutchins' journey from life as a science teacher, mother and amateur violist to one as a distinguished scientist and respected colleague of leaders in the male-dominated fields of engineering, physics and acoustics.