Classical Music

So You Think You Can Dance? ROCO Does!

A look at the music, friendships and footwork involved in the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra’s Season Opening concert

“I remember us sitting in the hotel at a restaurant having an afternoon tea and then we started dreaming up the possibilities!” says guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen about how she and Artistic Director Alecia Lawyer, who is also Founder and Principal Oboist, created the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra’s Season Opening program.

Dance Like No One’s Watching is the title of ROCO’s Season Opener, and when you hear the two colleagues talk about the pieces, you find yourself in a game of connect-the-dots that bounces you from contemporary dance music to ballet to Hungarian folk dance and even the legacy of female composers in classical music.

At the centerpiece of the program is Dance Card by Pulitzer Prize-winning Jennifer Higdon, a piece co-missioned by ROCO and the New Century Orchestra, which will receive its Texas Premiere this weekend. Mei-Ann Chen talks about the movements (Raucous Rumpus, Breeze Serenade, Jumble Dance, Celestial Blue and Machina Rochus), as well as her friendship with Jennifer Higdon.

Also noteworthy on the Season Opener are the use of the cimbalom in ROCO’s performance of Zoltán Kodály’s Háry Janos Suite and the inclusion of the little-known gem, Kamarinskaya by Mikhail Glinka. Dmitri Shostakovich’s Ballet Suite No. 2 and Fanny Mendelssohn’s Overture in C Major round out the program.

Hear how all of this makes for a night of virtuosity, humor, athleticism and friendship in my conversation with Alecia Lawyer and Mei-Ann Chen, who had just flown in from Chicago when we recorded this interview on Tuesday, September 20.

The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra presents Dance Like No One’s Watching on Friday, September 23, 8pm at Miller Outdoor Theater and Saturday, September 24, 5pm at The Church of St. John the Divine.

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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