The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra is an avant-garde community music ensemble made up of 16 electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitars led by Artistic Director Joseph Ricker who creates the innovative arrangements which form their repertoire--a body of music that is as unusual and revelatory as the ensemble itself. The orchestra is populated by both amatuer and professional musicians from the local community brought together by their passion for the guitar and for exploring an array of music which no other single ensemble can encompass.
"What is really interesting about the HVGO" says Joseph Ricker who was appointed HVGO's Artistic Director in 2018 "is not so much that it is an orchestra of guitars, but that it is an orchestra of guitarists. This room full of all different kinds of guitarists is kind of like the island of misfit toys. We come together from so many different beautiful musical traditions and I never know how it's going to work out, but it somehow always does."
Part garage band, part formal large ensemble, the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra was founded in 2009 by arch-guitarist Peter Blanchette whose innovative spirit and uncompromising artistry was an inspiration to their current director. Since that time the HVGO has been thrilling and surprising audiences with annual performances at the Northampton Center for the Arts, First Night Northampton and many other regional venues and as far afield as Jordan Hall in Boston.