Shaping the Future of Classical Music through Energizing, Modernizing, and Personalizing the Concert Experience
ROCO is a dynamic and innovative professional chamber orchestra that flexes from 1 to 40 musicians from all over the US and Canada, with guest conductors from around the globe. With over 130 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.
ROCO is known for shaping the future of classical music and has been called an “arts disruptor” and “trailblazer.” Leaning into access as its highest value, ROCO offers many concert tickets on a Pay-What-You-Wish model. Performances are in multiple venues to take audiences on a tour of Houston through music. ROCO began livestreaming to the world for free in 2013 and was able to continue with a full season of programming during Covid, with over 250,000 views during the pandemic. Live audio recordings from concerts are regularly broadcast nationally on American Public Media’s “Performance Today” show and are available for free listening in ROCO’s own Listening Room as well as all popular music streaming services.
The innovative and sector-changing ROCO on the Go! initiative weaves music through the community with QR codes on signs installed in parks, hospitals, and schools throughout Houston, linking recordings from a vast library of past performances with over 35,000 scans, providing access for all. Cultivating a multigenerational audience, ROCOrooters music education and childcare program offers music and a date night to caregivers. The Nightingale, ROCO’s newly published children’s book, offers unprecedented delivery of interactive music and narration through QR codes.
Known as “the most fun you can have with serious music,” ROCO was founded in 2005 at The Church of St. John the Divine by oboist and Juilliard graduate, Alecia Lawyer. After multiple experiences in other musical start-ups, she saw 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.