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The Crowd: The Hutchins Consort will play on

July 11, 2013|By B.W. Cook
  • Marcia Kay and Ron Radelet support Hutchins Consort.
Marcia Kay and Ron Radelet support Hutchins Consort. (Ann Chatillon )

If you are fortunate in life, you may have the opportunity to meet, know and be influenced by a rare and gifted individual whose special being impacts humanity. The late Carleen Hutchins was one such person. Born in 1911, Hutchins passed away in 2009 and left behind a musical legacy that has inspired countless people around the world. In Orange County, Joe McNalley has become a disciple of Hutchins' musical legacy, dedicating his life and professional career to her work, which encompasses the design and creation of one of the world's most unique violin octets.

McNalley's passion takes the form of what is called the Hutchins Consort. McNalley and his musicians join with a group known as Hutchins East, which are the only two professional ensembles on the planet performing on the violin octet created by Hutchins. To explain, the octet of instruments encompasses a series that includes a gigantic contrabass violin that stands over seven feet tall all the way down to a very small treble violin which is only 16 ½ inches long. Whenever the Consort performs, audiences are enthralled by the experience.

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Recently in Corona del Mar, the philanthropic Roberta and Howard Ahmanson opened their oceanfront English cottage to welcome McNalley and devotees of the Hutchins Consort for a very special weekend repast in the central garden of the whimsical country English residence. The occasion marked the introduction of a special guest, Academy Award-winning documentarian Cynthia Wade, who had flown in from New York to attend the Ahmanson reception and announce the start of production on her next directorial project: a film on the life of Hutchins. Wade won her Academy Award in 2008 directing the film "Freeheld" and was nominated in 2012 for her film "Mondays at Racine," for which she also received a 2012 Emmy Award. The Hutchins Consort has received a 2012 media grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support development of Wade's documentary film. Wade was joined at the Ahmanson reception by Vanessa Bergonzoli, also of New York, who will produce the film.

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