Major Music

A standing ovation and a $500-a-plate dinner at a swanky River Oaks club? Yes, ROCO can do it all

A standing ovation at a swanky River Oaks club? Yes, ROCO does it all

66 Reena Esmail, from left, Alecia Lawyer and Mei-Ann Chen at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Reena Esmail, from left, Alecia Lawyer and Mei-Ann Chen at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
38 John Bradshaw Jr. and April Lykos at the ROCO on the ROCCs
John Bradshaw Jr. and April Lykos at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
31 Janet Moore, and her daughter, Elizabeth Moore at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Janet Moore, left, and her daughter, Elizabeth Moore, at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
92 Patrick and Cathleen Trask at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Patrick and Cathleen Trask at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
71 April Lykos, from left, Cabrina Owlsley and Kelli Blanton at the ROCO on the ROCCs
April Lykos, from left, Cabrina Owlsley and Kelli Blanton at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
82 Fields and Jennifer Alexander, from left, with Susan and David Jones at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Fields and Jennifer Alexander, from left, with Susan and David Jones at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
54 Thuy Tran and Jim Tiebout at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Thuy Tran and Jim Tiebout at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
83 Kit Gwin, left, and Kathleen Holt at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Kit Gwin, left, and Kathleen Holt at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
52 Janet Moore, left, with Jenny and Mark Johnson at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Janet Moore, left, with Jenny and Mark Johnson at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
47 Cabrina Owsley, from left, Gardner Landry and Kelli Blanton at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Cabrina Owsley, from left, Gardner Landry and Kelli Blanton at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
23 Jennifer Smith, from left, Laura Devitt and Amy Ragan at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Jennifer Smith, from left, Laura Devitt and Amy Ragan at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
20 Mark and Jenny Johnson, from left, with Gretchen and Andrew McFarland at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Mark and Jenny Johnson, from left, with Gretchen and Andrew McFarland at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
11 Debra Fischer and Jerry Read at the ROCO on the ROCCs
Debra Fischer and Jerry Read at the ROCO on the ROCCs. Photo by © Gary Fountain
66 Reena Esmail, from left, Alecia Lawyer and Mei-Ann Chen at the ROCO on the ROCCs
38 John Bradshaw Jr. and April Lykos at the ROCO on the ROCCs
31 Janet Moore, and her daughter, Elizabeth Moore at the ROCO on the ROCCs
92 Patrick and Cathleen Trask at the ROCO on the ROCCs
71 April Lykos, from left, Cabrina Owlsley and Kelli Blanton at the ROCO on the ROCCs
82 Fields and Jennifer Alexander, from left, with Susan and David Jones at the ROCO on the ROCCs
54 Thuy Tran and Jim Tiebout at the ROCO on the ROCCs
83 Kit Gwin, left, and Kathleen Holt at the ROCO on the ROCCs
52 Janet Moore, left, with Jenny and Mark Johnson at the ROCO on the ROCCs
47 Cabrina Owsley, from left, Gardner Landry and Kelli Blanton at the ROCO on the ROCCs
23 Jennifer Smith, from left, Laura Devitt and Amy Ragan at the ROCO on the ROCCs
20 Mark and Jenny Johnson, from left, with Gretchen and Andrew McFarland at the ROCO on the ROCCs
11 Debra Fischer and Jerry Read at the ROCO on the ROCCs

Leave it to the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, better know as ROCO (rhymes with loco) to the cool kids, to trigger a thundering standing ovation after a sold-out concert of music that its audience had not ever heard before.

The program — including a Houston premiere by Asian-American composer Huang Ruo and a world premiere by Indian-American composer Reena Esmail over the weekend — sounded the official downbeat of the ensemble's ninth season, a journey that was praised at the group's first fundraiser dinner the same evening, themed "ROCO on the ROCCS," at the River Oaks Country Club.

The prowess of guest maestro Mei-Ann Chen to muse a boisterous performance was the talk of the town. Founder and principal oboist Alecia Lawyer took it all in, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the 200 classical music buffs who paid $500 and up for the surf-and-turf three-course menu.

Chairs April Lykos and John Bradshaw Jr. applauded honoree Janet Moore, one of the trio of influentials who founded the ensemble in 2005. In a short address, Moore remarked that she admired Lawyer's ability to "change people's lives for the better."

To foster connection between patrons and artists, each table was hosted by a couple of musicians. Cue cards with conversation starters furthered ROCO's emphasis on the people — not only the music — as the key to the ensemble singing a sweet melody of success. A brass fanfare heralded a game of musical chairs that kept the chatty throng getting to know even more lively musicians.

Spotted in the crowd were Harvin Moore, Kelli and Eddy Blanton, Cabrina and Steven Owsley, Marianne Kah, Kathleen Laws, Beck Redden, Connie and Tony Pfeiffer, Jo Ann and Bob Fry, Kit and Bob Gwin, Betsy and Scott Baxter, Mimi Lloyd, Kathleen Holt and Sarah and Jeff McParland.