Since its establishment in 2005, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra has been known to be two beats ahead of its time. Its founder and artistic director, Alecia Lawyer, made it that way when she launched and just so happened to appoint an all-female staff—a rarity in the biz. Recently, ROCO joined the national concervation about women’s leadership and power with rekindled vigor at its first-ever Women in the Arts panel, discussing the current state and future of female representation. For its 14th season, Games People Play, a female composer, conductor and soloist is featured in every single concert. The influence of the organization also goes beyond championing female representation. “We have the third-largest number of commisions nationalally,” says the managing director and resident right hand, Amy Gibbs. “By the end of the season, we’ll have premiered 79 commissioned pieces,” she says. The 40-piece group easily flexes down to two players in a hybrid model—a new form of classical ensemble.
ROCO embraces tech integration, live-streaming full orchestra concerts and launching an app. This coming year, it premieres its first recording on a label, Visions Take Flight. “It’s all about access and taking it to the next level,” says Lawyer.