|A natural expansion of its mission of shaping the future of classical music, ROCO’s first-ever book, The Nightingale, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale, highlights the 18-year-old ensemble’s leadership in innovative cross-cultural creation. A transformation of the 2018 Disney-inspired commission by composer/pianist Kevin Lau, with adapted text also by Lau, and full-color illustrations by Amy Scheidegger Ducos, The Nightingale is an interactive children’s book merging literacy, art, music, and technology into a shared communicative experience.
Readers can customize their reading experience by choosing different versions of the music through one of three QR codes: music with narration read by Miya Shay of Houston’s ABC13 News; instrumental only, with bell prompt; and instrumental music without prompts. The book, believed to be among the first of its kind in the classical music world with its unique use of technology and music, is not a new path for ROCO. The ensemble was the first in the nation to introduce QR technology to further expand accessibility to classical music with a city-wide immersive initiative utilizing QR interfaces that link, via smartphone, to curated playlists from the Houston-based chamber orchestra’s vast library of live concert recordings. This is a free listening experience for anyone who visits the over 250 parks, schools, and medical facilities engaged in the partnership. Education and human connection are a large focus for the ensemble, and the book is designed to engage the reader on multiple levels and to be read alone or with others.
With the book launch, ROCO is presenting an accessible free performance. Further, the first 50 children attending the live event on April 1st will receive a complimentary copy of The Nightingale. Copies of the book will be available in every library branch citywide. The chamber orchestra is also donating 160 copies of the book to the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Curiosity Cruisers, providing free books to children.
ROCO Concertmaster Scott St. John, Principal Clarinet Nathan Williams, and composer and pianist Kevin Lau, the original musicians in the commissioned performance, will perform on April 1st, with ROCO artistic director and founder Alecia Lawyer serving as narrator, joined by illustrator Amy Scheideggger Ducos.
ROCO – The Nightingale
Saturday, April 1, 2023
ROCO – The Nightingale
10:30 am – 11:30 am Central Time
Houston Public Library Main Branch, first floor
500 McKinney St., Houston, TX 77002
This event is free-to-the-public but registration is required due to limited seating.
Mr. Lau, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle for the 2018 commission, said of the piece, “’The Nightingale’ encompasses a wide range of emotions.” …”This was a piece that gave me a shameless opportunity to write very melodically and very beautifully,” he said. “It has a happy ending, which is not guaranteed when you’re reading Hans Christian Andersen.”