As the notes of Beethoven’s beloved “Pastoral Symphony” surged through one of POST Houston’s three-story atriums on Friday night, one couldn’t help but applaud not only the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra but also Frank Liu for the vision of remaking the former Barbara Jordan Post Office into a remarkable venue for work, feast and play.
The evening afforded a preliminary view of the work in progress, with POST Houston not scheduled to fully open until mid-November. For this premiere event at the much-anticipated mixed-use marvel, dinner on the spectacular five-acre rooftop garden followed the concert. And it was grand.
Lucky those who attended ROCO‘s ninth annual Revelry Gala as the chamber orchestra, noted for delivering “the most fun you can have with serious music,” treated supporters to this first-look at the 500,000 square foot structure being transformed by Liu’s Lovett Commercial. The massive Z-atrium staircase served as backdrop to the concert (the acoustics surprisingly good for the cavernous space) and the brief program which included a musical surprise.
ROCO managing director Amy Gibbs presented beloved artist Rick Lowe, founder of Project Row Houses, with the Wildcatting in the Arts Award, and recognized Mike Stude, patron and passionate arts supporter, as the evening’s honoree. Guests were surprised with a New Orleans jazz-infused fanfare presented in dedication to Stude’s beloved Labrador retriever, Satchmo. Stude grandchildren accepted the honor on his behalf.
(The curious, intent in stepping outside the boundaries of the fundraiser, slid through a side curtain before the concert to catch a glimpse of the shimmering Vladimir Tatlin-inspired staircase that anchors the 53,000 square foot food hall dubbed POST Market.)
The jazzy conclusion to the concert provided just the right tempo for the cocktail-attired guests who climbed the soaring zigzaging staircase (and other less presentable stairways) to the rooftop where stunning views and lavish landscaping took the breath away, that is if the stairs had not already done so. The elevator, however, was put to good use.
Guests who made their way to the roof before the concert were able to view the full immensity of the impressive garden with its trees, pathways and green spaces. By the dinner hour, the sun had set and all eyes were on the glittering downtown skyline that served as backdrop to the tented dinner.
After more than a year of presenting concerts virtually, this night with a full audience was particularly exciting for the musicians and for ROCO founder, artistic director and oboist Alecia Lawyer.
“I was ecstatic to be able to literally shout from the rooftop ‘We are all back!’ ” the Juilliard graduate says. “It was a joyful and glorious night and I am so deeply grateful to Houstonians for their generosity.”
Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan chaired the gala, which raised $280,000 for ROCO’s free programing.
Christening of POST Houston with classical music represents something of a turn from the sounds of the future Live Nation concerts, which will be performed in The Terminal, the 5,000 capacity music hall at the center.