Peter Blanchette

Guitarist, composer, arranger and conductor Peter Blanchette is known around the world as the inventor of the 11-string archguitar. His extraordinary repertoire of internationally acclaimed arrangements and compositions spans from the medieval, renaissance and baroque music  to World Music, New Music, and his own original pieces.  He performs and records in solo recital or with selected other instrumentalists to form the Virtual Consort. He has been heard on hundreds of recordings, film and television scores, public radio in the US, Canada, Europe and across Asia, on his own 17 archguitar albums for the Dorian label and his own imprint, Archguitar Music. Listen here to Blanchette's archguitar recordings.


Transcendant Performer:
A Bach Specialist

Since his late teens, Blanchette has been devoted to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He has made archguitar arrangements of  hundreds of the Bach's music composed originally for solo violin, solo 'cello, and lute , as well as archguitar duo arrangements of keyboard and orchestral works.

Kirsten Swanson wrote in the CVNC Charlotte Journal about Peter Blanchette's performance at the Bechtler Museum of Contemporary Arts' Concert Series:
"The ornamentation and rhythmic intricacies in the Courante were so creative that they gave the impression that Blanchette was composing the music on the spot. Each phrase was a new delight. He highlighted and danced rhythms that I had never heard before in the music. After a short pause wherein Blanchette joked about how hard the Courante is (the entire concert was performed by memory), he continued with the Sarabande, which left me crying and speechless from its serene beauty." 

Blanchette is a veteran performer at such high profile venues as NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and has performed in nearly all countries in Western Europe, from Norway to Portugal. 

 

Bach: Sarabande, from Suite No. 1 for 'cello solo -

Bach: Gigue, from Suite No. 5 for 'cello solo - Palencia, Spain

Composer

A recipient of the Massachusetts Council Artist Grant in Music Composition, Peter Blanchette is a composer whose music has been featured in films and television for over 20 years. Credits: HBO's Sex and the City, Cannes Palme D'Or nominated film Illuminata, (directed by John Turturro), commissions from the Dingle Film Festival and the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts for new scores to three of Buster Keaton's silent masterpieces: The General, the Navigator and Steamboat Bill. Jr.  His albums receive heavy radio airplay on “Sunday Baroque,” “The Thistle and Shamrock,” and on Spanish television's Antenna 3.

Below, an excerpt from Buster Keaton's 1928 silent film masterpiece, Steamboat Bill, Jr., with a new score composed by Peter Blanchette, and performed by the New, Silent, Black and White Quintet. Blanchette's score was premiered at the Dingle International Film Festival in Dingle Ireland, 2010.

Conductor

Blanchette is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra, a true avant-garde orchestra, comprised of more than a dozen adventurous acoustic and electric guitarists from widely varied traditions. Located in Northampton, Massachusetts, HVGO, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, serves the Pioneer Valley community as it creates new and beautiful music that could only come from such an eclectic melange, inspiring musicians to work together who might otherwise never collaborate. HVGO also partners with Holyoke Summer Strings to bring free, guitar ensemble lessons to Holyoke Massachusetts elementary school children. Learn more about HVGO here.

The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra performs Philip Glass' Piano Etude no. 9 Arranged for guitar orchestra, conducted by Peter Blanchette. Live at Smith College , Northampton, Massachusetts, 2015. Video by Paul Odgren.