Consort concert highlights unusual instruments - East Valley Tribune: West Valley

Consort concert highlights unusual instruments

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Posted: Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:30 pm | Updated: 1:31 pm, Wed Apr 13, 2011.

At the next Friends of Music concert Feb. 20, Hutchins Consort will perform traditional, modern, and classical music on a set of acoustically engineered stringed instruments that have unfamiliar names, as well as unusual shapes and sizes.

The concert begins at 2 p.m. at the Wickenburg Community Center, 160 N. Valentine St., Wickenburg. Admission is free. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., and seating is first-come, first served.

The eight-member Consort performs exclusively on acoustically balanced instruments designed and built by Dr. Carleen Hutchins, and is named in her honor. 

Hutchins, who died last year at age 98, began research in 1955 to create stringed instruments that when played together cover the entire range of written music in a way that the traditional violin, viola, cello and bass do not. 

The Hutchins’ instruments range in voice from a high treble violin that is only 11 inches long to a low contrabass that is nearly 7 feet tall. The Consort has the only set of these instruments in use. All others, including prototypes, are preserved in museums.

The Hutchins Consort, based in southern California, is a musical organization with talented, adventurous players. Joe McNalley is the founder and artistic director. He plays the big contrabass and will introduce and describe the Consort’s instruments. McNalley is joined by bass violinist Frederick Charlton, who also serves as composer-in-residence. Rounding out the octet are: Beth Folsom, soprano violin; Chris Woods, treble violin; Adrienne Woods, alto violin; Omar Firestone, tenor violin; Alwyn Wright, mezzo violin; and Claire Courchene, baritone.

Friends of Music is a volunteer community organization that for 37 years has brought an array of performers and a great variety of musical concerts to Wickenburg. Friends of Music concerts are supported by local donors, and are always free and open to the public.

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