The Northampton Arts Council is a city board and a non-profit organization whose goal is to support and promote the arts in Northampton. Originally created as a Local Arts Lottery Council, it began its work by administering a grants program in which proceeds from a state lottery are distributed to local artists, arts groups, and public schools.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra Celebrates CD at Shea Theater Debut

Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra Celebrates CD at Shea Theater Debut

Turners Falls, MA—The Northampton Center for the Arts is pleased to present composer, performer, and guitar innovator Peter Blanchette directing the critically acclaimed Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra (HVGO) in its debut at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls on Saturday, May 21 at 8:00 pm. The audience is also invited to a 7:00 pm pre-show “meet and mingle” with the orchestra in the Shea’s newly renovated lobby bar area.

The concert celebrates HVGO’s long-awaited CD, Unknown Album, featuring recent repertoire from Beethoven’s iconic 7th Symphony Allegretto movement, popular mid-west rockers Wilco, minimalist composer Philip Glass, South American composer Gustavo Santoalalla, and a new piece from Leo Kottke.

Blanchette on HVGO’s new CD: “I named it Unknown Album because this is music that’s never been heard before. Beethoven’s 7th certainly wasn’t conceived for electric guitars. 16th century French dances didn’t have back-beats, and Wilco’s One Wing wasn’t originally arranged with as counterpoint as a Beethoven Symphony. HVGO’s process -- where I arrange music for all these guitars and the musicians lend their particular guitar sound to the piece -- is always an exploration of great music. It’s a search for sounds unknown to the music as it was, and repertoire previously unknown to the guitar. And, what unifies our style, our sound, is the joy we have experience translating these masterpieces to the language of the guitar.”

HVGO (, an avant-garde music ensemble founded by Peter Blanchette in 2009, is comprised of more than a 15-20 acoustic and electric guitarists from widely varied traditions. HVGO is a resident company of the Northampton Center for the Arts and is supported by the D’Addario Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Frank Lucchesi Trust.

Though known as a Bach specialist, Blanchette ( has a repertoire of unusual and celebrated musical arrangements that run from medieval to contemporary to ethnic styles. Blanchette is the recipient of WFCR Foundation’s 2011 Arts & Humanities Award for Outstanding Individual, and is a veteran performer of such venues as Spain’s Cordoba Festival of the Guitar, Boston’s Symphony Hall, NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Town Hall, New York City, and WGBH Boston.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and children. They are available in advance at or and at the door from 6:30 pm on the evening of the performance. Door sales are cash or check only.

Photo credit: Ron Mann

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