Recognized at the 2020 GRAMMY® Awards
for Classical Producer of the Year – Blanton Alspaugh
Nov 16, 2018
Available at Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube Music, and other retailers:
Learn more about our collaboration with producer Blanton Alspaugh in this Houston Press feature!
ROCO is one of the most innovative, boundary-pushing ensembles performing today, committed to building new connections to audiences, creating new repertoire and embracing new technology. For our debut album, we asked our musicians to pick their favorite pieces from ROCO’s repertoire, and what rose to the top were five of our then fifty-eight world premiere commissions (over seventy-five by the end of the current season).
Music includes Karim Al-Zand’s haunting Visions from Another World, Reena Esmail’s pulsing, unpredictable Teen Murti, Derek Bermel’s tender Murmurations (hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “delightful and often intriguing”), Anthony DiLorenzo’s whimsical Jabberwocky, and Marcus Maroney’s Bartók-inspired Concerto for Chamber Orchestra.
The recording sessions, conducted by Mei-Ann Chen with Grammy-winning producer Blanton Alspaugh, were originally scheduled for August 2017 right when Hurricane Harvey struck, resulting in an eight-month delay of the project. The sixth piece, Anthem of Hope: Houston Strong, also by Anthony DiLorenzo, was commissioned in honor of the resiliency of the Houston community in the wake of the storm.
Composed in a week’s time and shared with other arts organizations throughout Houston, the work embodies the strength and resilience of our home community. In an interview with Houston Public Media before the work’s premiere, Alecia Lawyer, Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Oboe of ROCO said, “The idea is to create a thread of music tying us all together, illustrating the unity Houston has displayed in the past few weeks.” After experiencing major recording delays during this disaster, ROCO chose to complete its debut album with DiLorenzo’s powerful fanfare.
Discover the story behind the album!
With thanks to Blueprint Film Co.!
To view liner notes:
“Performances are top-notch, sound very good. This is a great debut from ROCO!”
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE – FEBRUARY 2019
⭐⭐⭐⭐ “An impressive debut disc of commissions for Houston’s ROCO ensemble. Plenty of highlights, but Bermel’s stirring Murmurations and DiLorenzo’s colourful Jabberwocky are of particular note.”
“Tonal Evolution: Great New Music That Makes Room For Tunes….[The scores] are all steeped in tonality and built, at least partially, on traditional structural models, but they are also different enough that their composers’ thumbprints shine through.” [FULL ARTICLE] – Allan Kozinn
WHUS 91.7FM – PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
- featured in The Best of 2018
“There’s one reason in particular why Visions Take Flight, the double-CD debut release by ROCO, the Houston-based River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, nabbed the number nine slot in textura’s 2018 list of top classical releases. It’s not because the performances are stellar, which they are, and not because the ensemble plays magnificently, which it does. No, it’s because when ROCO selected works to include on the release, the musicians selected their favourite pieces from the group’s repertoire and the five chosen from the then fifty-eight available (the total now seventy-five) constitute an incredible sampling of material by living American composers. It’s this that recommends the release most, though the realizations by the ensemble, conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, are as impressive.” [FULL ARTICLE]
“Visions Take Flight is one of those rarest of accomplishments: a contemporary music album that’s a sheer joy to listen to, from start to finish. Those come along, well, pretty rarely.” [FULL ARTICLE] – Jonathan Blumhofer
“It is unusual to see an orchestra of any size make its first recorded statement a collection of new music, let alone all self-commissioned works. The performances throughout are full of verve and musicality, and the technical quality of the recordings is excellent. One can only hope that ROCO’s next recording will maintain this high level of music-making and devotion to new music.” [FULL ARTICLE] – Jeffrey Young
BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE DECEMBER PODCAST
- features at 21:30, in First Listen
- features audio interview with HPM’s Catherine Lu and Alecia Lawyer (~16 min.)
LOG JOURNAL SEPTEMBER PLAYLIST
- features Marcus Maroney’s Concerto for Chamber Orchestra
“A flexible, large ensemble that plays to the manner born, even when performing recent commissioned pieces…it’s modern classical music without artifice when it boils things down to the chops that really matter.” [FULL ARTICLE] – Chris Spector