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The groundbreaking chamber orchestra’s thirteenth season features nine world premiere commissions – including five with the full 40-person orchestra – with pieces based on JFK, Houston punk legends The Hates, Disney movies, nursery rhymes and more

ROCO continues to push the boundaries of technology and deepen the relationship between audience and performer, using smart phone app EnCue by Octava to offer real-time 
musician commentary, live video-streaming performances and offering concert recordings via the Listening Room on their website

The orchestra is proud to welcome violinist Scott St. John – formerly of the St. Lawrence String Quartet – as their permanent concertmaster

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – ROCO (also known as The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra), is excited to announce its 2017–18 season, themed “Cultivate Curiosity.” Featuring a staggering nine world premiere commissions (to add to their already-impressive 58) inspired by everything from JFK and nursery rhymes, to punk rock and Disney, the inventive programming also includes concerts that pair chocolates with strings, beer with brass, and lullabies with epitaphs.

Spread out across 16 different venues, ROCO performances will take audiences trick or treating at Houston’s Heritage Society (with a musical performer in each historical building), celebrate the Day of the Dead in a gallery surrounded by retablos and altars, and honor the local philanthropists the Mastersons at their magnificent home Rienzi, which they donated to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Alecia Lawyer, ROCO’s founder, artistic director and principal oboist, said of the season: “In our 13th season, ROCO celebrates all the ways that we embrace innovation, and we encourage audiences at home and in the concert hall to dig deeper into what links their personal experiences to the musicians and the music that brings us together.”

ROCO’s In Concert series, which features the full 40-person orchestra and live videostreamed performances, kicks off September 22 & 23 with “To the Beat of a Different Drummer,” which features the world premiere of Paul Lansky’s Five Views of an Unfamiliar Tune, a concerto for percussion featuring Matt McClung, where each movement explores a different instrument: vibraphone, marimba, bongos, tom-toms, and children’s toys. Next, ROCO honors Veterans’ day on November 11 with “Courageous Catalysts,” a program centering around JFK 100, a commission by Michael Gandolfi that celebrates the 100th birthday of President John F. Kennedy and the courage of people who fight for change, as well as Bruce Adolphe’s I Will Not Remain Silent, a
violin concerto inspired by the life of Joachim
Prinz, a German-American rabbi and civil rights leader who lived through both Nazi Germany and the American Civil Rights era. “Legendary Love,” the third concert in the series on February 10, features a new work by Dan Visconti that honors Christian Kidd, the lead singer of Houston punk legends The Hates, while “Twists of Fate” brings the series to a close on April 21, with Teddy Abrams conducting Shostakovich’s 9th Symphony and Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, bookended by a pair of world premieres by Mark Buller entitled Nursery Rhymes and Epitaphs.

The Unchambered series, which features ROCO soloists or small ensembles in an intimate setting, opens October 8 with “Nik-NAK”, featuring the ROCO Wind Trio playing a program of works by female composers (which they will also tour to France), including a world premiere by Alyssa Morris. “Musical Parfait” on November 19 will feature Maxime Goulet’s Symphonic Chocolates, in which each movement is paired with a piece of chocolate, and on February 18 the ROCO Brass Quintet will perform a program that includes a world premiere by Houston-based jazz composer Paul English. The season closes April 8 with “Magical Inspirations,” where newly-appointed ROCO concertmaster Scott St. John will premiere a work by Canadian composer Kevin Lau inspired by Disney and incorporating the EnCue by Octava smart phone app into the performance.

ROCO’s forward-thinking Connections series, featuring intimate, site-specific, collaborative and multi-disciplinary performances, kicks off on October 26 with their “Musical Trick-or-Treat,” where audiences visit a series of historic buildings of Houston’s Heritage Society for candy and a short performance in each. October 30 continues the tradition of ROCO’s “Musical and Literary Ofrenda,” a moving celebration of the Mexican Day of the Dead in which five three-minute original pieces for a chamber ensemble and singer are interspersed with similarly-themed pieces of short prose and poetry also written for the occasion. The entire event takes place inside a gallery filled with Day of the Dead retablos and altars. Additional Connections performances include a November 30 tribute to Houston philanthropists the Mastersons in their former home Rienzi, which they donated to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a January 4 “Beer and Brass” night at St. Arnold’s Brewery, and a January 14 performance of Peter and the Wolf at the Houston Zoo, in partnership with Horse Head Theatre Company and textile-upcycling company Magpies & Peacocks.

Says recently-appointed managing director Amy Gibbs: “Season 13 will be full of our continuous exploration of cultivating the curiosity of our audience and musicians alike, exploring unexpected collaborations and presenting music with surprising inspirations.”

ROCO will also record their first commercial album, for release in the fall of 2018 that features five world premiere commissions.


Full 2017-2018 season information is below
For more information go to




September 22 & 23, 2017
To the Beat of a Different Drummer
November 11, 2017
Courageous Catalysts
February 10, 2018
Legendary Love
April 21, 2018
Twists of Fate



October 8 & 10, 2017
November 19, 2017
Musical Parfait
February 18, 2018
ROCO Brass Quintet
April 8, 2018
Magical Inspirations



October 26, 2017
Musical Trick or Treat
October 30, 2017
Musical and Literary Ofrenda
November 30, 2017
Season of Thanks for the Mastersons
January 4, 2018
Beer and Brass
January 14, 2018
Peter and the Wolf



ROCO is a 40-piece professional chamber orchestra based in Houston, TX, with virtuosic musicians, conductors and composers from around the world who invite people into the ROCO experience through the language of music. ROCO presents unexpected classics, original compositions and delightful performances with the goal of increasing access for a multigenerational audience. In 12 seasons, ROCO has commissioned and world premiered 58 works with 9 more scheduled for Season 13 “Cultivate Curiosity!” and is regularly broadcast nationally on APM’s Performance Today.



ROCO Season 13: “Cultivate Curiosity”
Gilbertson – The Cosmos (ROCO Commission)
“Dance Card”, Jennifer Higdon (ROCO Commission)
Kamarinskaya, Mikhail Glinka


Alecia Lawyer and Amy Gibbs
Alecia Lawyer and Amy Gibbs
EnCue by Octava
EnCue by Octava


ROCO Website
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