The pumpkins are out, as are the ghosts and goblins. Fall is upon us, and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) is joining in the festivities.
The next program on this season’s lineup comes with an inkling of Halloween nostalgia, as audience members trick-or-treat between four historic homes at Sam Houston Park. Sugary candy, however, is not the prize awaiting them at each door. It’s music and a touch of history.
The focus on connectivity through creative collaboration and accessibility has been an integral part of the orchestra’s mission since it was founded in 2005. Lawyer and her husband moved to Houston from a small town near Tyler over a decade earlier, and she worked a myriad of jobs – from a radio DJ to a docent at the Holocaust Museum Houston. However, it was when St. John the Divine Episcopal Church started its renovations that she experienced what she describes as a Noah’s Ark moment, a call to not only gather like-minded, passionate musicians who enjoy playing together, but to shape the future of classical music in today’s modern society.
The orchestra has since presented 68 world premieres. Now in its 13th season, the musicians will play 36 concerts in 16 different venues this year alone, and each program impacts a wide audience. The full chamber orchestra concerts are live-streamed and broadcast nationally while the remaining programs, although smaller and more intimate in nature, reach into the community, touching those who might not otherwise feel able or comfortable attending a traditional concert. The trick-or-treat event, with its focus on community, is a prime example of the latter.
ROCO Connections: Musical Trick-or-TreatWhen:5:30 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. concert tour on ThursdayWhere:The Heritage SocietyDetails: $45; 713-665-2700, rocohouston.org
With no climate control, the rustic log cabin at the Old Place is an unusual and potentially problematic venue for a concert, especially when dealing with expensive instruments. And like other nontraditional venues, it will have unique acoustics. For this reason, flexibility is key.
“ROCO has always had a great history of putting musicians in strange and exotic and interesting locations,” McClung said.
To compliment the theme of his venue, McClung has chosen to perform “Log Cabin Blues,” one of George Hamilton Green’s xylophone rags. This upbeat and quirky musical style is known for its syncopated rhythm and speed. Like the tradition of solo piano rags by the “King of Ragtime” Scott Joplin, many of these scores are to be played as quickly as possible to showcase the dexterity of the performer, McClung explained.
“Music is a language. It’s not an entity. It’s something that creates dialogue,” Lawyer said. “We have to be humans first, and I think that connection through our language is what’s really special.”