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Dark Horse Fiddlemaker: Carleen Hutchins

The Fall Lyceum series WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? presents the fourth lecture in our six-part series.

Pioneers are often unlikely outsiders who beat the odds because they possess curiosity, common sense and the courage to jump into the unknown with total disregard for what the world thinks.  They simply take the first step and follow the path wherever it leads, inadvertently carving a wide swath through thickets of preconceived notions, and thereby upsetting the status quo. In the process, they often go a direction they never dreamed about. In the spirit of the Wright brothers—bicycle-builders who taught themselves aeronautical engineering. Biologist and trumpet player Carleen Hutchins taught herself acoustical physics by carving fiddles in her kitchen. Hutchins founded an international society devoted to violin acoustics; invented the violin octet—a family of eight tonally-matched violins across the tonal range of a piano—and contributed more to the violin world than anyone since Stradivari.

Her story is American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins—the Art and Science of the Violin (ForeEdge, 2016), by Quincy Whitney, nominated by PEN America as one of ten best biographies of 2016. 


Speaker: Quincy Whitney was the primary arts and cultural news reporter for the Boston Sunday Globe, New Hampshire Weekly for fourteen years. She was also Newsletter Editor for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and the American Textile History Museum and is the author of Hidden History of New Hampshire (Acadia, 2008).

$5 / students free

Carleen Hutchins measuring a violin

Carleen Hutchins measuring a violin

Earlier Event: October 14
The Big Sick
Later Event: October 22
Archie Fisher in concert