Concordia University

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Honorary degree citation - Carleen Maley Hutchins*

By: Elaine B. Newman, June 1992

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Carleen Maley Hutchins, an expert in violin acoustics, and violin maker, whose work has revolutionized our thinking about stringed instruments. Carleen Hutchins is famous for investigating how violins work.

You all know that the violin is a much more brilliant instrument than the cello, with much more carrying power. Carleen Hutchins and her collaborators investigated the characteristics responsible for this, and designed a set of eight instruments which covered the entire range from bass to treble violin, all with violin characteristics. One set of the octet now resides in the Royal Academy of Music in Sweden; another at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. We were fortunate to hear the Octet at Concordia in 1984 when Carleen Hutchins gave one of the Science College Public Lectures.

And Carleen Hutchins not only studies but also makes stringed instruments, violins, violas and cellos; she has made over 250 of them, played in orchestras around the world. Many newspapers have written about Carleen Hutchins. She has given over 200 lectures all over the world, and organized the Catgut Acoustical Society for investigators of stringed instruments. You will all really understand the esteem in which Carleen Hutchins is held when I tell you that The Acoustical Society of America at its 1991 meeting devoted a full day to a session entitled "Musical Acoustics: Honouring Carleen Hutchins".

That's a pretty amazing record for any university professor. What makes it yet more amazing is that Carleen Hutchins isn't associated with any institution of any kind. She received her B.A. from Columbia in biology and physics, taught school for some years, and when she married Mort Hutchins and had children, she decided to do something she could do at home, make violins.

And she trained with good violin makers, and put her inquisitive, intelligent and determined mind to understanding how violins worked. Gradually she built an acoustics laboratory in her home. Her entire illustrious career is based on work done from her home.

I personally honour Carleen Hutchins for this intellectual individualism, for her interest in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Most of you who graduate today are not going to be university professors. I ask you all to remember that the search for knowledge and truth does not depend on a union card. It requires only dedication and love. Choose the area you love, and devote yourself to it, and you and the world will be better for it.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege, and a personal pleasure, to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Carleen Maley Hutchins, so that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased

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