The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) is a forty-piece professional chamber orchestra that was founded in 2005 by Alecia Lawyer. A Juilliard-trained musician with an eclectic background as a performer, recording artist, adjunct professor, and radio host, Ms. Lawyer had a vision to redefine the orchestral experience for both audience and musicians. The result is ROCO: an orchestra of all-star musicians, distinguished conductors, and famous composers, who come together from all over the world to present unexpected classics, original compositions, and delightful performances that dissolve the barriers between audience and orchestra.
ROCO played its inaugural concert on November 5, 2005, at The Church of St. John the Divine. From the beginning, ROCO received critical acclaim and developed a loyal audience of classical music fans, parents seeking family entertainment and enrichment, and musicians who share Alecia’s vision. ROCO was the first to bring to Houston an orchestral experience that simultaneously entertains, educates, and fosters relationships between orchestra and audience. This unique approach to classical music has led critics to call ROCO “a well-rounded, vivacious approach to music,” and “a trailblazer in the orchestral world.”
ROCO plays classical music that delights audiences and challenges musicians, including popular and lesser-known pieces. ROCO often introduces new pieces, many of which are composed specifically to showcase the talents of ROCO musicians.
ROCO concerts are “main event” musical performances that feature talented composers, musicians, and conductors in spectacular performance venues such as St. John the Divine, Bayou Bend, the Museum of Fine Arts, and others. And while ROCO is founded on great music, it’s not really about the music. It’s about what the group is able to communicate and create THROUGH the music…
ROCO brings together forty all-star musicians from throughout the U.S. and Canada, each an acclaimed artist and soloist, in a collaborative and inspiring environment. ROCO does not have a permanent conductor, but instead, engages distinguished guest conductors and famous composers throughout the year. The overall effect is “musical joie de vivre” made possible by the combination of virtuosic artists and great personal chemistry.
An Extraordinary Audience Experience
ROCO is dedicated to creating a multi-sensory experience in which the audience is entertained, educated, and thoroughly delighted as they listen to music, get to know the musicians, and become a part of the ROCO family. ROCO engages the audience in several ways: 1) Audience members are invited onto the stage during the performance, 2) Musicians put on name tags and River Oaks Chamber Orchestra come out into the audience during intermission (called “Take 5”), 3) Patrons may “adopt” individual musicians through chair sponsorship, 4) the magazine format “keepsake” program includes composer notes and pronunciation guides, and 5) salon concerts and member events in intimate settings provide opportunities for patrons to interact with the musicians and the music.
Innovative Programs that Educate and Entertain
ROCO is breaking new ground by providing a uniquely personal classical musical experience for concert-goers. It does this through several unique programs:
ROCOrooters is a music education and childcare program that runs concurrent with and after the 5pm concerts. Professional music education and childcare professionals provide an enjoyable, enriching experience for kids while their parents enjoy the concert and dinner out afterward.
ROCOco “Music Tastings”
Fine wine, great music, and good company come together as “ROCO Company,” or ROCOco.” These events, typically held in wine cellars or tasting rooms, pair music with wine or “beer and brass” in an intimate, interactive setting.
Salon concerts feature a small chamber group of up to 5 musicians in private homes or intimate settings. Patrons and sponsors view these as a great way to meet, mingle with the musicians while entertaining guests.
Community Outreach and Collaborations
ROCO is dedicated to working with organizations that serve the community, as it had done with its food drive with the Houston Food Bank and HSPVA, by partnering with Nehemiah Center for ROCOrooters, through active participation in the FreshArts Coalition, and by conducting master classes with Houston area schools enable music students to learn from ROCO musicians.
ROCO also collaborates in ways that elevate and expand the performance, as it has done with the Chopin Society, Bayou Bend, KUHF, and many others.
ROCO enjoys a national and international reputation as an innovator and performing group of high artistry. Performance Today radio regularly broadcasts ROCO performances to a national audience, and KUHF has featured ROCO artists in its Front Row program many times. ROCO founder Alecia Lawyer is a finalist for Texas State Musician, alongside the legendary Willie Nelson, and received the “Gutsy Gal” award from Houston Woman Magazine. ROCO has received numerous other awards and distinctions, including the Ultimate Houston award and Mayoral proclamation of November 5, 2005, as “ROCO Day.”