The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra CD Release at Sweeney Concert Hall

The Center for the Arts is pleased to present composer, performer, and guitar innovator Peter Blanchette directing the critically acclaimed Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra (HVGO) at Sweeney Concert Hall, Smith College on Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm.

The concert debuts 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, and South American composer Gustavo Santoalalla. Along with a new piece from Leo Kottke, the concert offers door prizes, special guests, and CD giveaways.

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’s live radio broadcasts.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and children. They are available in advance at 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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