The Hutchins Violins
In 1957 Dr. Carleen Hutchins was challenged by American composer Henry Brant to refine and implement a vision that began with the master luthiers of the Renaissance: to produce a family of string instruments whose combined voices would span the entire range of written music and effectively fill the gaps left by the traditional string instruments (violin, viola, cello and bass) which form the core of the modern symphony orchestra.
She spent thirty years in research and experimentation: studying the masters, exploring the methods used by her world-famous predecessors and analyzing the resulting characteristics. Once, when given the opportunity, she delicately dissected a Stradivarius viola to discover the qualities which made it distinctive.
From her consultations with experts in the fields of physics and acoustics came the development of the procedure by which sonic attributes of a given instrument could be measured. She perfected shaving methods and acoustic hole positioning that would ultimately bring an instrument to its peak acoustical performance.
In the early 1960's Dr. Hutchins applied her knowledge and skills to eight instruments which she personally hand-crafted and calibrated to match harmonic overtones throughout their ranges. These are the instruments played by the Hutchins Consort.
NPR SHOW “SCIENCE FRIDAY” ABOUT CARLEEN HUTCHINS
Building Better Violins… With Science
A New Family of Fiddles?
Sometimes the only thing between opportunity and achievement is the missing question arriving at just the right time.
"Can you create a family of violins across the tonal range of the piano?"
Carleen recalls the moment: "Henry Brant asked if I was the violin-maker crazy enough to try an idea he had. He wanted a set of seven graduated in-size 'violins' one at each half octave over the range of written music that would carry the sound of the violin with its clarity, brilliance, and power evenly on all 4 strings.
An introduction to the Hutchins Consort that includes performance footage as well as interviews with consort members and others.
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.