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Unusual String Ensemble to Perform Bach and Rock in Santa Monica  

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By Lookout Staff

February 2, 2017 -- One usually expects a string ensemble to play classical chamber music, but while The Hutchins Consort will tackle Bach, it also ventures far from tradition.

The violin octet -- which will perform a concert titled "Bach and Rock!" at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica Saturday at 8 p.m.-- not only covers Bach, but works by Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa and other rock legends.

The band gets is unique sound from the blending of eight violins ranging from a tiny treble violin tuned one octave above the standard violin to a large bass violin tuned one octave lower than a cello.

"That broad palette of instruments helps the ensemble produce an astonishing range of sounds," concert organizers said.

The instruments were designed and built by luthier Dr. Carleen Hutchins, who crafted some of the finest instruments of the second half of the twentieth century and invented new ones.

The Los Angeles Times, in its obituary, said Hutchins "came as close as anyone ever has to reproducing the venerated sound of the Stradivarius."

In 1957, Hutchins began working on the violin octet, which would expand the palette of the traditional string quartet.

She called the 2000 premiere of the Hutchins Consort, when she was 88 years old, "one of the most exciting moments" of her life, according to the Times obituary.

A New York Times review of a Consort performance found that “the instruments worked best in modern pieces that took advantage of their acoustical properties" with "ruminative solos and duos that demonstrated each instrument’s voice."

While the Consort performs rock and blues compositions -- a repertoire tapped earlier by the popular Kronos quartet -- it also will tackle the classics, including Bach, who of all composers lends himself to the most wide-ranging interpretations.

From piano (he wrote virtually nothing for the instrument), to the synthesizer and jazz band -- his works have received a wealth of treatments he could never have imagined three centuries ago.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for seniors and students and $60 for two adults and two children. For more information call 760-632-0554. St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church is located at 1227 4th Street.

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