The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra uses technology to make classical music free and accessible

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — You walk into a room full of musicians from the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, and at first glance it doesn’t look any different than any other group of talented musicians. But in the oboe group, Alecia Lawyer sees her musicians in a completely different light.

“It’s all about the people,” says Lawyer, who founded ROCO 18 years ago.

It all started after she entered the Church of St. John the Divine when it was being remodeled and realized it would be ideal for a chamber orchestra.

After all, orchestra jobs are hard to come by.

“It’s 50 percent harder to get into an orchestra than a major league baseball team, and nobody knows that,” Lawyer said.

Two decades later, ROCO is a thriving orchestra, attracting musicians from every corner of the continent.

“Over the last 18 years we’ve played 60 different venues in Houston, which is crazy. I think I’ve walked into every building and said ‘Ahh’,” Lawyer said, singing a pitch. “That sounds good. Let’s do it here!”

Lawyer sees ROCO as an orchestra that is fun and flexible. Musicians often perform in smaller groups in unique spaces, with musicians flying in for every performance

“For me at ROCO it was always about these new paths, a lot of new music. I think the combination of that is really rare, so I like to come down,” said Scott St. John, a Canada-based concertmaster.

ROCO performs its family concert on Friday at 8:00 p.m. for free at the Miller Outdoor Theater. The Saturday night performance is at St. John the Divine.

And in something really unusual, they want the audience to bring their phones.

“The house lights are on. There is a way to reach the audience. We go to the audience, so I look for people who enjoy doing that, and if you’re not in Houston, that’s fine,” Lawyer said.

This weekend’s concert series will also be streamed live for those who can’t make it, with the aim of endearing Beethoven and Bach without being intimidating.

To learn more about ROCO, download their app.

For updates, follow Miya Shay on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra uses technology to make classical music free and accessible

Russell Falcon

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