Recently, I have been approached by colleagues searching for information about Guy Hutchins. In reply to their requests I offer the following.
I am fortunate to count Guy Hutchins as an important mentor and dear friend in my life. My first meeting with Guy was as a high school student while playing tuba with the Columbia Philharmonic Orchestra (nka The South Carolina Philharmonic). After playing the closing measures of the Largo Movement of Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, an older gentleman seated behind a contrabassoon on the row in front of me turned, and said, “I love that sound almost as much as I love Jesus.” And with that comment, I was introduced to a man who played an important role in the development of orchestral and band music in South Carolina, and in my life as a musician, and a teacher. As a college student, I was coached on listening skills by Guy, and chided for using an electronic tuner before relying first on my ears. I listening to him tell about his conversation with Percy Grainger on a fall afternoon while seated on instrument trunks, staring out at the rain, from an auditorium load-in door. He introduced me to the music of Delius, Grainger, the symphonies of Brahms, the operas of Puccini, and numerous other composers. Later, as I began my teaching career, my classroom was always open to Guy. For my students, a visit from Mr. Hutchins was like a visit from a beloved grandfather. For Guy, music was as important as the air that he breathed, and it was equally important for him to share his love of music.
The Hutchins family moved to Spartanburg, SC because of the rich musical life in that turn of the century Southern town. Guy’s mother taught piano, and instilled a love for music in her talented son. While attending Wofford College, Guy reorganized, and conducted the college band. In 1925 Guy gained the attention of faculty and staff members at Clemson College, and was recruited to do the same for Clemson. Guy graduated from Clemson with a degree in engineering while directing the band to offset tuition expenses.
In 1928 Hutchins met Ossip Gabrilowitsch, then conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (and husband of Clara Clemens) at the Spartanburg Music Festival. Through support from Gabrilowitsch, Guy obtained an appointment to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Prior to assuming leadership of the Detroit Symphony, Gabrilowitsch was the associate conductor of the Philadephia Orchestra serving as an assistant to Leopold Stokowski.
Following his return from Curtis, Guy organized and conducted the Florence Symphony, and later founded and conducted the Spartanburg Symphony. He was approached by Dr. J. L. Mann, Greenville County Superintendent of Schools, to succeed DuPre Rhame as director of music at Greenville High School following Mr. Rhame’s resignation to assume a directorship at Furman University.
In 1938 Guy Hutchins, then director of music at Greenville (SC) High School was approached by civic leaders to form an orchestra composed of townspeople and college musicians. Hutchins agreed to become the director, and the newly organized, Greenville Symphony Orchestra soon presented its first concert on April 14, 1938.
During his lifetime as a music teacher in South Carolina, Hutchins organized and conducted the orchestras in Florence, Greenville, and Spartanburg. In the late 1940s Mr. Hutchins also served as conductor of the Charlotte Symphony. Following his directorship at Camden High School, Guy joined the faculty of Syracuse University where he remained until his official retirement from teaching. His departure from South Carolina for New York followed his being assaulted on a country road as retribution for his efforts in championing music education in the African-American schools of Kershaw County. Upon his return to South Carolina, Guy became involved as a mentor in the music department at the University of SC through SCORE, a Carter Administration initiative that employed the mentoring skills of retired executives and educators.
Afternoon tea at Stokowski’s home in Maine, 1919 with, right to left, Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch, Nina Gabrilowitsch, pianist and conductor Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Leopold Stokowski and his wife, Olga Samaroff Stokowski