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April 29, 2020 | By Andrew Ousley
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – ROCO is thrilled to announce its 2020-2021 season, entitled “Color and Light.” Taking audiences on an illuminating, global journey celebrating nature and culture, the season will include ten new works commissioned by ROCO, including eight co-commissions in partnership with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, The Knights, and more. Alyssa Morris serves as composer-in-residence for the season, writing a triptych of pieces showcasing the ensemble‘s flexible model - including a work for wind sextet, solo instrument, and a piece for chamber orchestra inspired by the colorful children’s book “Musicians of the Sun”, based upon an Aztec tale.
This year’s In Concert performances for the full 40-piece ensemble feature new premieres which include a concerto for bandoneon composed and performed by Richard Scofano, a piece for strings by Anna Clyne co-commissioned with the Australian, Scottish, and Lausanne Chamber Orchestras in honor of Beethoven’s 250th birthday, the premiere of Alyssa Morris’ chamber orchestra work -highlighting ROCO’s principal winds, a new work by Jonathan Leshnoff co-commissioned with the IRIS Orchestra, and a new co-commission by Reena Esmail based on the poem “The History of Red,” which will feature soprano Kathryn Mueller.
ROCO’s Connections series that explores the unique spaces of Houston will once again provide new ways to experience classical music outside of the concert hall, with the return of beloved events such as a Yuletide Concert, Peter & the Raptor, and Beer & Brass. ROCO will also perform a Musical Ofrenda at MECA Houston, and return to Holocaust Museum Houston to tell the story of composer Milad Yousufi’s cultural journey as a refugee from Afghanistan through a new five movement chamber suite with narrator. The Unchambered series, where ROCO musicians curate their own concerts, will move to a new location at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
“Even though Season 16's theme of Color and Light is very timely, it has been our intent before this unprecedented time of social distancing,” says ROCO’s Founder and Artistic Director Alecia Lawyer. “While our musicians can continue to connect us all digitally, we greatly look forward to being in person with you to share the power of our language of music and be in relationship with you once again.”
Additionally, on the heels of ROCO’s debut album Visions Take Flight, recognized with a Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, the ensemble will be recording a new CD which compiles the best of their chamber music premieres to show the breadth, virtuosity, and personality of individual ROCO musicians and composers.
Full 2020-21 season information is below
For more information go to www.ROCO.org.
IN CONCERT SERIES
ROCO’s In Concert series, which showcases the full 40-piece orchestra and also includes concert livestreams, lifts off on September 26 with “Starburst.” Conducted by ROCO’s Artistic Partner, Mei-Ann Chen, the opening concert is centered around the world premiere of Richard Scofano’s concerto for bandoneon (a Latin-American bellowed instrument) entitled La tierra sin mal (The land without evil), and will also include the works of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst; Fauré’s Masques et bergamasques; Debussy’s Clair de Lune; Sibelius’ The Tempest, and a special performance of Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque.
The In Concert series will continue with “Oceans” on November 14. Conductor Andrew Litton will make his ROCO debut in this nature-inspired program, presenting the premieres of Marcus Maroney’s OK, Goodbye, which features Christina Jennings on flute and Matthew Dane on viola d’amore; Score by Jonathan Leshnoff, and a work by Anna Clyne for strings that celebrates Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The program will also include two classics: the overture to Beethoven’s mythic ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, and a chamber orchestra version of Debussy’s ode to the sea, La Mer.
ROCO explores the interactions between light and dark on February 27 with “Shadows.” Conducted by Ward Stare in his ROCO debut, the concert is built around a commission by Alyssa Morris, Sinfonia Concertante - based on the children’s book Musicians of the Sun and featuring ROCO’s principal winds as soloists. The program also includes Patrick Harlin’s Shadow Dancer, Lennox Berkeley’s Divertimento, Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 “The Clock,” and Luigi Dallapiccola’s Tartiniana Seconda, a Baroque-inspired work that features concertmaster Scott St. John.
On April 24, the In Concert series comes to a close with “Flamenco,” featuring the world premiere of The History of Red, a co-commission by Reena Esmail based on a text by Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan, with soprano Kathryn Mueller as soloist. Brett Mitchell returns to ROCO to conduct the premiere of Quinn Mason’s Princesa de la Luna for harp and strings, John Adams’ Christian Zeal and Activity, Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Errolllyn Wallen’s Photography, and Carlos Surinach’s flamenco for orchestra Ritmo Jondo.
The Unchambered series continues to highlight the distinct musical colors that ROCO musicians offer, through self-curated programs in an exciting new location at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The series starts on October 14 with oboist Spring Hill, flutist Rebecca Powell Garfield, and harpist Laurie Meister. Violinist Pasha Sabouri continues the series on December 5. On February 13, ROCO winds and pianist Andreea Mut perform a program including the world premiere of a wind sextet by Alyssa Morris. The ROCO Brass Quintet will conclude the Unchambered series on March 6 with a performance of contemporary and classic favorites.
ROCO’s Connections series continues to take classical music outside of the concert hall through creative collaborations that explore unique spaces around Houston. In October, ROCO will welcome the return of their Musical Ofrenda at MECA in celebration of Dia de los Muertos, presenting the world premiere of a commission by Kerwin Young - Coming Forth by Day, a collection of trios for baritone, oboe, viola, and cello. On December 12, ROCO returns to Czech Center Museum Houston for their Yuletide Concert. January 9, ROCO reprises their performance of Peter and the Raptor at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and on January 14 the ROCO Brass Quintet returns to the Saint Arnold Brewing Company for Beer & Brass.
The Connections series returns to Rienzi on February 4, for a chamber music celebration of the music of Margaret Bonds, one of the most prolific African-American, female composers, curated by and featuring pianist Howard Watkins, with bass-baritone Timothy Jones. ROCO wraps up the series on March 11 to once again partner with Holocaust Museum Houston for a chamber concert featuring a deeply personal commission by Afghan composer Milad Yousufi, entitled My Journey to America.
September 26, 2020 Starburst | In Concert
October 14, 2020 Laurie Meister (harp), Spring Hill (oboe), Rebecca Powell Garfield (flute) | Unchambered
October 2020 Musical Ofrenda @ MECA | Connections
November 14, 2020 Oceans | In Concert
December 5, 2020 Pasha Sabouri (violin) | Unchambered
December 12, 2020 Yuletide Concert @ Czech Center Museum | Connections
January 9, 2021 Peter and The Raptor @ HMNS | Connections
January 14, 2021 Beer & Brass @ St. Arnold | Connections
February 4, 2021 Celebration of Margaret Bonds @ Rienzi | Connections
February 13, 2021 Winds Sextet | Unchambered
February 27, 2021 Shadows | In Concert
March 6, 2021 ROCO Brass Quintet | Unchambered
March 11, 2021 Holocaust Museum Houston | Connections
April 24, 2021 Flamenco | In Concert
ROCO is a dynamic and innovative professional music ensemble that flexes from 1 to 40 players from all over the US and Canada, with guest artists from around the world. Performing intimate concerts in dozens of venues, ROCO’s musicians don’t just give concerts – they challenge preconceptions, create extraordinary experiences, and foster new relationships with audiences through the language of music. ROCO’s debut album, Visions Take Flight, was recognized for a GRAMMY® Award for Producer of the Year for Blanton Alspaugh.
Widely recognized for diversity in programming, a recent study from the Institute for Composer Diversity found ROCO is the number one ensemble in the US for performing the works of women and number two for the works of composers of color. Additionally, ROCO has the third-highest number of commissions in the United States and has premiered nearly 100 commissions from living composers. ROCO embraces technology, with free worldwide concert livestreams and real-time artist commentary via a smartphone app, as well as on-demand recordings of past concerts via popular music streaming services. A vital part of the community, ROCO concert DVDs are sent to nursing homes and hospitals to bring music to those immobile communities, and their music education/childcare program called ROCOrooters attracts multigenerational audiences.