Hutchins Consort Holds “Sea Shanties and Scalawags” Gala at Newport Harbor Yacht Club

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Members of the Hutchins Consort adorned in pirate garb / photo by Ann Chatillon

The Hutchins Consort is known for its musical prowess and its creativity in programming eclectic themed evenings of music.

This is always on display during the group’s annual fundraising gala concert and dinner, held this year on Sunday, April 24 at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and attended by more than 100 Hutchins Consort devotees.

Last year, the Hutchins Consort focused on Blues music. This year, the event was titled “Sea Shanties and Scalawags.”

What makes this intriguing is that The Hutchins Consort is a group of musicians that play on different sized violins, from a tiny treble violin to a large seven foot contrabass, all designed and built by the late luthier Dr. Carleen Hutchins. Her research into the acoustic properties of string instruments resulted in an innovative process called free-plate tuning—a precise method of refining the top and back plates of a violin before it is assembled to bring it to peak acoustic performance.

Pirate singer named Spoo with Joe McNalley on bass fiddle. / photo by Ann Chatillon

And so, it stands to reason that the group would perform classical pieces reflective of the instruments. In this case—no, not really, although sea shanties are, by definition, “a genre of traditional folk song that was once commonly sung as a work song to accompany rhythmical labor aboard large merchant sailing vessels.”

So they are indeed musical in nature, enhanced by scoring such songs for the Hutchins Consort.

This year the Sea Shanties theme also made sense because the gala was in a room at the yacht club overlooking Newport Harbor.

The evening began with a silent auction featuring such items as a child’s Fletcher Jones Mercedes with a Gondolier bear driver that sings “O Sole Mio,” tickets to Philharmonic Concerts, Pageant of the Masters, South Coast Repertory and the San Francisco Opera, and high-end wine baskets.

Next came a performance by the Hutchins Consort, who performed classic sea shanty songs appropriately dressed in pirate garb, featuring vocals by a gentleman named Spoo, lead singer for a group called The Pirates Charles. He also was dressed in a pirate costume, and by all accounts stole the show.

Rourke, Kerry and John McCarthy pose next to a silent auction item / photo by Ann Chatillon

After the performance came dinner. Table centerpieces featured scalawag nutcrackers—a sea captain, a pirate, a bootlegger, etc.

Barbara Woods served as the Honorary Chairman of the event. The gala was dedicated to the late Judith Jelinek. John McCarthy, Hutchins Consort Board President, served as emcee. Sponsors of the event were Joyce and Michael Clary. Underwriters of the event were Dr. Pike Parry and Dr. Howard Jelinek.

Best of all—the event raised $40,000.

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Hutchins Consort supporters Alex and Pam Munro, Jerry Harrington / photo by Ann Chatillon
Gala sponsors Joyce and Mike Clary / photo by Ann Chatillon
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