A Pig’s Bargain

Sometimes pivotal moments in our lives are forever recorded—in an object, or an inscription, or a symbol. Every Hutchins instrument carries within it the symbol of a life-changing moment and a lifetime friendship—between Carleen Hutchins and Helen Rice, the “Great Lady of Chamber Music.” Hutchins and Rice met over the lunch table at the Brearley School, the day before school started in the fall of 1945. Hutchins taught primary school science and Helen taught music. While Helen puzzled over the challenge of starting a string program with just one player—she ended up catching Hutchins at her own game—inspiring someone else to do what you want them to do!

Hutchins never saw it coming—a young science teacher whose second and third-grade classroom laboratory resembled a zoo, so filled it was with a menagerie of animals—guinea pigs, fish, rabbits, even a rooster. When the two met, Helen had two things on her mind—her string program and one very pregnant sow back on her family farm in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. By the time she sat down for lunch with her new colleague, Rice had hatched a plan, based on the fact that she knew Hutchins played viola. Would Hutchins like to have a piglet in her classroom? Of course!!! Helen struck a bargain with Carleen—a piglet for a viola. Carleen could have the piglet in her classroom if Carleen joined Helen every Friday afternoon to play chamber music with the students.

The Latin department soon named the piglet Susie—for SUS is the Latin word for pig.

When it came time for the piglet—fast-turning-into-a-pig—to return to its questionable fate on the farm, Susie left Brearley but the name stuck with Carleen. When she made first viola, she labeled it “SUS #1,” paying tribute to the friendship that began by trading a pig for a viola.
Hence, every Hutchins instrument displays a “SUS” prefix on its label.

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