Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra

The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra is a unique large ensemble that combines the distinctive timbres and techniques of electric, acoustic, classical and bass guitars. The orchestra plays an eclectic array of repertoire–ranging from Bela Bartok to James Brown, surf guitar to Chopin – an ever-evolving musical melange handpicked and arranged by HVGO’s Musical Director, Joseph Ricker. Based in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, HVGO is made up of both professional and amateur musicians all fearlessly dedicated to excellence in avant-garde community music making.


Joseph Ricker - Artistic Director

Joseph Ricker is a classical guitarist whose pioneering work continually reveals fresh possibilities in the realms of repertoire and sonority on his chosen instrument. His work with Jamie Balmer as a part of the Orpheus Guitar Duo over 14 years of performances across the country and on five albums charts a path of discovery which has caused critics to call the group “brilliant and wild thinking artists” and “one of the ensembles defining performance practice in the 21st century.” Joseph’s primary guitar studies were with Phillip de Fremery (a pupil of Andres Segovia and a true curator of his legacy). Joseph is also a graduate of the Hartt School, University of Hartford and The University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he received his Masters in Music Education. Joseph Ricker is the founder and director of the Valley Guitar Academy in Northampton where he passes on the tradition and continues the exploration with a new generation of guitarists both young and old.


Richie Barshay - Guest Artist

Richie Barshay began drumming inside kitchen cabinets at an early age, and continues banging on things worldwide to this day. Noted for his work with the Herbie Hancock Quartet in the 2000s, he's been dubbed "a major rhythm voice on the rise" by Downbeat magazine, and The Guardian (UK) praises "the arrival of a major innovator who also knows how to have fun." Find him on stage and recordings with Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, The Klezmatics, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Lee Konitz, Natalie Merchant, Bobby McFerrin, and Pete Seeger among others. Since 2004 he has led outreach projects across 5 continents as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department.

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