HVGO CD Release Concerts 2016

 

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) at Sweeney Concert Hall, Smith College on Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm.
Tickets $15 adults and $12 students/children.

SWEENEY HALL MAY 6 ONLY:  Tickets Here

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 Santaolalla. 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 The 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 much 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 experience translating these masterpieces to the language of the guitar.”

The HVGO will also perform at the newly renovated Shea Theater in Turner’s Falls on Saturday, May 21 at 8pm. There will be a pre-show social in the Shea’s newly opened lobby bar at 7pm.
SHEA THEATER May 21 show tickets ONLY here.

HVGO open rehearsal at HCC Music Colloquium, Feb. 24, 10am

On Wednesday, February 24th at the 10 am Colloquium for Holyoke Community College music students, HVGO Musical Director Peter Blanchette will lead an open rehearsal lecture demonstration on the guitar orchestra.  Guitar playing students are invite to join the orchestra in a rehearsal/workshop environment, where we will work together on sections of Ludwig van Beethoven’s masterpiece, Symphony No. 7, second movement, Allegretto, arranged for orchestra of acoustic and electric guitars.I_WANT_YOU_RecruitmentBelow are links to parts in pdf format. You DO NOT need to sight-read fluently, but looking at the part ahead if time is advised. As indicated, there are parts of varying technical levels. We cannot stress enough how welcome players are to participate- it will be fun! Just bring a guitar and, if possible, an amplifier.

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Electric Guitar Group 1 part (quite easy to play!!)

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Electric Guitar 1 soloist (more challenging)

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Nylon 1 (Medium level)

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Nylon 2 (very easy)

This event is made possible in part by funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

 

Beethoven and Beyond: HVGO @ First Night 2016

NCFA First-Night-2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015
4pm, 5pm shows
Sweeney Concert Hall
at Sage Hall
Smith College
144 Green St, Northampton, MA

This year’s performance will include Blanchette’s new arrangement of Beethoven’s iconic 7th Symphony Allegretto movement, along with a guitar-orchestrated take on music of the 1990s Detroit electronica artist known only as Japanese Telecom– unlikely bedfellows that make the HVGO impossible to pigeonhole, and such a hit with First Night audiences. To attend this concert, you must have a First Night 2016 Badge. Individual tickets are not sold. Get First Night Northampton Badges here.

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The HVGO rehearsing in Sweeney Concert Hall.

 

Location of Sweeney Concert Hall at Sage Hall, Smith College:

Little River Concerts: HVGO @ Hampton Elementary School

HVGO played a matinée show for Hampton Elementary School and an evening show for the public, at the High School auditorium.

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A wild bunch of lovable elementary school kids- and we get them to love Bartok!
Bill Klock_w_Hampton kids
Kids love the guitar orchestra- but as is so often the case with popular music bands, some kids REALLY like the drummer. Our percussionist Bill Klock is great with audiences, and these students had lots of questions about the drums, all of which Bill was more than happy to answer.

Here’s a fun video of HVGO closing out our rocking, cranked-up version of Bela Bartok’s 3rd Romanian dance for piano …

HVGO @ Holyoke High School!

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“That Bach piece you guys played made me cry.” HVGO director chats with enthusiastic, guitar playing Holyoke High School students after the in-school concert.

HVGO played for a big audience of High School kids in Holyoke today. We played Philip Glass, Bach, Gustavo Santoalalla and Wilco- the kids were awesome! They loved it- and they gave plenty back, as an audience. Afterwards, many came up onstage, enthusiastic about the whole crazy idea of a guitar orchestra, doing such diverse music.

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HVGO rocking Holyoke High School!

Some wanting to show us they could play, and interested in joining.
HVGO director Peter Blanchette chats with enthusiastic students at Holyoke High School, just after the orchestra’s in-school concert.
Really a beautiful experience. I have so much pride about my colleagues in the HVGO. They are all different, they bring hundreds of different strengths to a community of music-making that means something very deep.

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HHS Music Dept. head Mark Todd, Peter Blanchette, MIFA Executive Director Donald Sanders

Thanks to Don Sanders, executive director of Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, and to Mark Todd, music department head of Holyoke High School.

 

 

Success! HVGO + Holyoke Summer Strings 2016

The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra announces a partnership with Holyoke Summer Strings.  The partnership is supported in part by funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Investment Portfolio Program, and with invaluable assistance from The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts [MIFA].

HVGO's Assistant Musical Director, Joe Ricker, leading the Holyoke Summer Strings Guitar Ensemble, (group I) at HSS' Summer Concert, Wisteriahurst Museum, Holyoke.
HVGO’s Assistant Musical Director, Joe Ricker, leading the Holyoke Summer Strings Guitar Ensemble, (group I) at HSS’ Summer Concert, Wisteriahurst Museum, Holyoke.

Holyoke Summer Strings (HSS), founded by Musicorda in the 1980’s, has grown from providing free violin and cello instruction in the Holyoke Public Schools to include an inspiring, 5-week day camp for public school students focussed on string instrument instruction. During several brainstorming sessions hosted by another Holyoke arts institution, Massachusetts International Festival for the Arts (MIFA),  Jennifer Gelineau, HSS’ Director for nearly a decade, and HVGO’s Peter Blanchette were delighted to find that the two groups had such compatible visions.

While HSS uses a modified Suzuki teaching method and HVGO uses a modified demonstrative technique more reminiscent of rock-n-roll, both groups believe that people can discover the techniques needed for classical music within their own listening culture.

Proud parents giving a "Bravo" to the guitar ensemble!
Proud parents giving a “Bravo” to the guitar ensemble!

Further, both HSS and HVGO believe in the value of musical literacy, but also believe that big strides in musicianship can occur even pre-reading.

The younger group of violinists performing at Holyoke Summer Strings Concert, Wiseriahurst Museum, Holyoke.
The younger group of violinists performing at Holyoke Summer Strings Concert, Wiseriahurst Museum, Holyoke.

Thus, this summer, in addition to instruction in violin, viola and cello, Holyoke Summer Strings will offer free, introductory guitar ensemble instruction to Holyoke public school students. HVGO Assistant Musical Director Joe Ricker will teach four groups of 10 students weekly guitar ensemble classes at Holyoke’s Morgan School. Specifically, Blanchette and Ricker are working on an arrangement of Cheki Morena as an introductory piece for HSS’s new guitar students.

HVGO’s Peter Blanchette acknowledged the assistance of MIFA’s Executive Director Don Sanders and MIFA’s Managing Director Kathy McKean: “They are such excellent advocates for the arts that they functioned like organizational match-makers.

HVGO's Joe Ricker, leading the HSS Guitar Ensemble, (group 2) at HSS' Summer Concert, Wisteriahurst Museum, Holyoke.
HVGO’s Joe Ricker, leading the HSS Guitar Ensemble, (group 2) at HSS’ Summer Concert, Wisteriahurst Museum, Holyoke.

This is just the first step in a collaboration with Jennifer and HSS. HVGO would like to establish an ongoing guitar orchestra in the Holyoke Public Schools.”

Click here to visit HSS’s “GoFundMe” to ensure students will have a full compliment of electives this summer such as yoga, dance, chorus, art, and creative writing.

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L-R: HVGO Musical Director Peter Blanchette,
Holyoke Summer Strings Director Jenifer Gelineau
HVGO Assistant Musical Director Joe Ricker
HVGO board member Mary Anne Fishman
MIFA Executive Director Don Sanders
MIFA Managing Director Kathy McKean