The Nightingale, ROCO’s first-ever book, to be officially released April 1, 2023 Free-to-the public event at Houston Public Library’s Main Branch Performance to feature composer / pianist Kevin Lau, clarinetist Nathan Williams, violinist Scott St. John, and artistic director / narrator Alecia Lawyer

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The Nightingale, ROCO’s first-ever book,

to be officially released April 1, 2023

Free-to-the public event at

Houston Public Library’s Main Branch

Performance to feature composer / pianist

Kevin Lau, clarinetist Nathan Williams, violinist Scott St. John, and artistic director / narrator Alecia Lawyer

Cover design by Chris Boyer; Published by ‘Lil Smith Press, a division of Silvesmith Press, Houston, Texas

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.”

Kevin Lau
Nathan Williams
Scott St. John
Alecia Lawyer
“Offering audiences a concert experience like that of no other”

— Houston Chronicle

ROCO is a dynamic, innovative professional chamber orchestra that flexes from 1 to 40 players from all over the US and Canada, with guest conductors from around the world. Performing intimate concerts in dozens of venues, ROCO’s musicians do not just give concerts — they create extraordinary experiences and foster new relationships with audiences through the language of music.

With over 128 world premieres to date, ROCO is one of the most prolific commissioning organizations in the US. A study in 2019 by the Institute for Composer Diversity found that ROCO was the #1 ensemble in the US performing works by women and #2 for composers of color. ROCO’s debut album, Visions Take Flight, was recognized with a GRAMMY® Award for Producer of the Year, Blanton Alspaugh.

A modern, 21st century ensemble, ROCO embraces technology for the purpose of connection, offering free worldwide concert livestreams and real-time artist commentary via the ROCO Houston app, as well as on-demand audio and video recordings of past concerts via popular music streaming services and our own Listening Room. This spring it presents a new use of technology with its latest book project, combining music, human interaction, reading and technology for multi-generational audiences. ROCO’s innovative QR Code project, ROCO on the Go, enabling instant connection to music in non-traditional spaces, continues to expand throughout Houston and beyond. Locations include Harris County Precinct 2’s parks, Houston Public Library, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, and the 5th Ward Cultural Arts District. Reaching 27,000 scans of 250 codes placed in and around Houston, ROCO’s efforts emphasize the connection between music and every aspect of life, with playlists of music from past seasons available for free listening in every possible community. A vital part of the community, ROCO performances are shared with nursing homes and hospitals through concert DVDs to bring music to those immobile communities. The unique ROCOrooters music education and childcare program attracts multi-generational audiences.

Empowering ROCO musicians with the ability to curate their own concerts and connecting them personally to composers and donors is one of ROCO’s unique approaches to the human side of music. It is also just one of the many reasons ROCO is known as an “arts disruptor” and “trailblazer.”

Known as “the most fun you can have with serious music,” ROCO was founded in 2005 by oboist and Juilliard graduate, Alecia Lawyer, who, after multiple experiences in other musical start-ups, recognized the need for a sustainable and thriving model that would focus on authentic connections between musicians and audiences. Her work of “Wildcatting in the Arts” has expanded through a vibrant and multi-talented team that has made ROCO known for its dedication to living and diverse composers, multigenerational audiences, and free access to classical music for all.

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