Hugh Withycombe was born in New Zealand and grew up in southeastern Australia. Through his love of making music and playing the cello he was drawn to instrument construction. Equipped with degrees in Environmental Science and Philosophy he worked for a time negotiating climate change treaties for the Australian Government. He then moved to England to study violin making, feeling this to be a more tangible process. Graduating from the Newark Violin Making School in 2001 Hugh worked two years in London before returning to Australia with his young family to establish his own studio in Canberra. From 2012-2018 he ran a full-service strings shop The Avenue with his business partner Madeleine Gisz.
Hugh likes to focus on making new instruments. His passion is in exploring new models that respond to the player’s needs, taking inspiration from historical examples of the past. Hugh believes contemporary makers can synthesize their rich shared knowledge to create new and relevant models for musicians of today.
Teaching has also been an ongoing interest of Hugh’s. His first job out of school was as a junior high school teacher. He worked as a tutor at the Cambridge Violin Making course for two years and continues individual tuition for violin making in Canberra. Hugh has been privileged to be part of the Oberlin Violin Makers workshops as a participant and faculty member since 2008.
Hugh is a member of the Australian Violin Makers Association, VSA and BVMA