The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) announces its 2016-2017 season, themed “Go Boldly,” with programming that expands the professional chamber orchestra’s footprint, new commissioned works from energetic composers and state-of-the-art technology to further connect audiences with performing artists.
“ROCO’s 12th season builds upon the concept of stepping into an unknown space and wildcatting,” says Alecia Lawyer, ROCO founder, artistic director and principal oboist. “Risk-taking in the arts isn’t simply about doing wild and unexpected things. It’s also about using extremely talented people to realize their own ideas.”
This season marks ROCO’s bold entrance into The Woodlands following a successful debut series by the ROCO Brass Quintet at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in 2015. ROCO continues presenting these intimate chamber concerts while adding performances that feature the full 40-piece orchestra as part of ROCO’s “In Concert” series. ROCO’s entrance into The Woodlands for 2016-17 marks the continuation of ROCO’s efforts to perform throughout the Greater Houston area, with 39 concerts in 16 different venues performed throughout the region.
ROCO continues its bold tradition of new commissions as part of the “In Concert” performances. Featured composers on the 2016-17 season include Pulitzer prize winner Jennifer Higdon, Michael Gilbertson, Ricardo Lorenz, and Alex Miller.
ROCO continues its partnership with Octava, the innovative digital program note and commentary delivery app. ROCO will utilize Octava as an enhancement mechanism to directly communicate with the audience in real time, offering insightful commentary from the musicians, scholars and guest artists during performance.
ROCO In Concert
ROCO launches its 2016–2017 In Concert series with “Dance Like No One’s Watching,” Sept. 23 at Miller Outdoor Theatre and Sept. 24 at The Church of St. John the Divine (SJD). The program features the Texas premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s Dance Card, a work for string orchestra based on the baroque dance suite form, which ROCO co-commissioned with the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Mei Ann Chen conducts, Chester Englander solos as cimbalom player for Kodaly’s “Hary Janos” Intermezzo, and Scott St. John returns as concertmaster for this program that also features Dmitri Shostakovich’s Ballet Suite No. 2, Fanny Mendelssohn’s Overture in C and Mikhail Glinka’s Kamarinskaya.
Nov. 18 at The Woodlands United Methodist Church (TWUMC), and Nov. 19 at SJD, ROCO presents “Space: The Final Playground.” The program features another ROCO commission and the Texas premiere of Michael Gilbertson’s Cosmos, a piece in five short movements, each of which is inspired by an element of the cosmos. During the concert, soloists from WindSync — a theatrical, Houston-based wind quintet — will move throughout the performance space while playing. David Danzmayr conducts and Scott St. John is concertmaster for the program, which also includes Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 6, Czech composer Vilém Tausky’s Coventry, and Elgia Andina by Gabriela Lena Frank.
ROCO audience favorite Andrés Cárdenes returns to lead ROCO’s annual conductorless concert on Feb. 24, 2017, at TWUMC, and Feb. 25, 2017, at SJD. The Grammy-nominated violinist will lead from the chair and serve as soloist during “People are People.” The program features the world premiere of a violin concerto commissioned by ROCO and written specifically for Cárdenes by Ricardo Lorenz. Other works on the program are Luigi Rodolfo Boccherini’s Symphony No. 25 in A-Major, Aaron Copland’s Three Latin American Sketches, and Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 8 in D Major.
The Season 12 “In Concert” series comes to a close on March 31, 2017, at TWUMC and April 1, 2017, at SJD, with “Double Trouble.” The concert is led by Steven Jarvi, conductor and Scott St. John as concermaster. Alexander Miller’s Concerto Grosso for double reeds is the commissioned world premiere along with Saverio Mercadante’s Concerto for Flute in E-minor featuring ROCO flutist Brook Ferguson. Also on the program: Green Brook Suite by Gustav Holst and Verklarte Nacht by Arnold Schoenberg.
ROCO’s Unchambered series, on the stage at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH), features individual ROCO musicians in an intimate chamber ensemble. The series opens Oct. 9 with “Fantasy, Love and Sex(tet),” featuring cellist Richard Belcher and violinist Cece Belcher in a program that comprises Robert Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces Op. 73 for Cello and Piano, Erwin Schulhoff’s Duo for Violin and Cello and Ernő Dohnányi’s Sextet for Clarinet, Horn, Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello.
Violinist Aloysia Friedmann is the featured artist for “Tasting Menu” on Nov. 13. Along with pianist Scott Cuellar, Friedmann performs Eugene Ysaye’s Solo Sonata No. 3 in D-minor, Op. 27; Robert Schumann’s Sonata No. 2 in D-minor; and a quartet of tangos by Isaac Albeniz, Astor Piazzolla, Paul Schoenfeld and Igor Stravinsky.
On Feb. 12, 2017, percussionist Matt McClung and violinist Maureen Nelson perform a program of solos and duets, including Astor Piazzolla’s L’histoire du Tango, in a program titled “Stolen Moments.” In this unique program, Nelson and McClung perform works originally intended for their counterpart’s instrument.
The Unchambered series concludes March 5, 2017, with Franz Schubert’s Octet. “Schubert Octet” features clarinetist Nathan Williams.
ROCO Brass Quintet
During Season 12, the celebrated ROCO Brass Quintet (Jason Adams, trumpet; George Chase, trumpet; Gavin Reed, horn; Thomas Hultén, trombone; Jared Lantzy, bass trombone) returns for a series of performances in The Woodlands. The group also performs Friday evening “Rush Hour” concerts at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH).
Concerts at MATCH are on Fridays, at 6:30pm, with cocktail hours between 6-6:30
Concerts at TWUMC are on Sundays, at 5pm.
Program 1 (Oct. 14, Oct. 16)
“From Russia with valves”
With this first quintet program of the season, the quintet will explore some early chamber music for brass, from composers active in St. Petersburg who were inspired by the string quartet tradition. In addition to being composers, Ramsoe was a violinist and Ewald was a cellist. (Ewald was also a civil engineer!) Böhme moved from Germany to Budapest and finally in 1897 to St. Petersburg. Although much of his music is well known by brass musicians, his Nachtmusik was discovered only recently, and the RBQ is excited to share this gem. The musicians will also perform music composed in a much later period, by Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian and by Igor Stravinsky.
Wilhelm Ramsöe, Quartet No. 4
Victor Ewald, Quintet No. 3, Op. 7
Oskar Böhme, Nachtmusik, Op. 44
Alexander Arutiunian, Armenian Scenes
Igor Stravinsky, Fanfare for a New Theater
Program 2 (Jan. 27, Jan. 29)
“Crossing over the English Channel”
In their second quintet program, the musicians of the RBQ will perform works of composers from either side of the English Channel (U.K. and France.) Summer Dances by William Mathias is a very lively work in 6 movements. Mathias’ contemporary, Alun Hoddinott, also wrote a very charming work for brass quintet, about 8 years earlier than Mathias, based on Welsh nursery tunes. Patrice Caratini is a French jazz bassist who wrote a wonderful work for quintet, Passages, which crosses over between jazz and classical styles of music.
William Mathias, Summer Dances
Alun Hoddinott, Quodlibet on Welsh Nursery Tunes
Patrice Caratini, Passages
Program 3 (April 7, April 9)
“Music from the Americas”
In their third and final program, the RBQ presents recent works of composers from North and South America, beginning with a fanfare from Jennifer Higdon. David Sampson’s Chesapeake (written in 2010) is a programmatic work, depicting a series of sailing trips off the coast of Maryland. Osvaldo Lacerda was a Brazilian composer who wove folk music into his very colorful and charming 4 movement work for brass. Finally, the RBQ is thrilled to announce our first commissioned work for brass quintet; our friend, Houston-based musician and composer Paul English, will be writing a piece for the group, and we are very excited to share this new work with our audiences in Houston and The Woodlands.
Jennifer Higdon, Fanfare
David Sampson, Chesapeake
Osvaldo Lacerda, Quinteto Concertante
Paul English, newly commissioned work
Each season, ROCO collaborates with dynamic partners throughout the Houston community with a series of “Connections” concerts. The 2016–2017 lineup includes:
An annual Musical and Literary Ofrenda at Lawndale Art Center on Oct. 25.
A performance by the ROCO Brass Quintet at The Centrum on Cypress Creek’s FACE series on Dec. 13.
A Beer and Brass performance by the ROCO Brass Quintet at Saint Arnold Brewing Co. on Jan. 5, 2017.
A partnership with Interactive Theater Company that brings Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf to life at the Houston Zoo on Jan. 15, 2017. The concert is also performed at Texas Children’s Hospital thanks to a generous grant from The Moran Foundation.
A performance by ROCO clarinetist Maiko Sasaki at Asia Society Texas Center on March 23, 2017 titled “Roots, Reeds and Rhapsody.” The program includes Sergei Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody, Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, Claude Debussy’s Pagodas from Estampes, Zhou Long’s Song of the Ch’in and Bright Sheng’s Concertino for Clarinet and String Quartet.