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Soundtrack to Houston: ROCO on Buffalo Bayou

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Alecia Lawyer

Bellaire resident and ROCO founder and artistic director, Alecia Lawyer (pictured, on right, along with a staff member from Buffalo Bayou Partnership) helped install the QR codes throughout the trails of Buffalo Bayou. 

Even though audiences cannot congregate in an auditorium these days, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra has found a way to bring Houstonians a shared musical experience. ROCO, in collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, has created the ultimate musical scavenger hunt. Through the twists and turns of the bayou trails, visitors will come across QR codes posted near public art pieces and landmarks at 40 different locations. At each stop, the QR code links to a specific piece of music performed by ROCO and carefully selected by the ROCO creative team.  

“ROCO is all about access. It’s our number one value,” said Alecia Lawyer, Bellaire resident and ROCO founder and artistic director. “This is the perfect time and the perfect partnership because it’s a way to get outside safely with your family to discover what makes Houston so unique.”

All you need is a smartphone to transport you to a brand-new musical landscape. Open your smartphone camera, focus on the QR, and your phone will take you directly to the ROCO selection. Each piece of music was chosen based on the location and was drawn from ROCO’s 15 years of live performance recordings.

Scan QR codes on Buffalo Bayou

Use your smartphone to scan the QR code that links to one of the carefully-selected ROCO pieces. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli)

“In choosing what pieces would be in the installment, we found humorous, deep or personal connections to the landmarks or art pieces where the QR codes are located,” said Alecia. “For example, the sculpture of the word ‘EXPLORE’ links to a piece based on space exploration.”

The choices come from both contemporary and classic composers. Further, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra is known for their dynamic and innovative performances, so no two pieces will sound the same. ROCO is expanding the musical palette of audiences and shaping the future of classical music by prioritizing diversity, including new talent as well as classical composers.

Scan QR codes on Buffalo Bayou

Explore the Bayou and ROCO’s great musical diversity by following the trails and looking out for the QR codes that are near landmarks and art pieces. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli)

“People are often worried they’re not going to like the new pieces,” Alecia said. “I bet you the ones you really love are the ones that are brand-new commissions. I can guarantee we will always reflect the wide variety that’s out there.”

ROCO‘s creativity did not stop when COVID-19 started. Alecia and the rest of the creative team found a way to keep the music alive even when rehearsal wasn’t in session. 

Scan QR codes on Buffalo Bayou

Some QR codes are printed on white signs (pictured) and some are on smaller plagues closer to the ground. (Photo: Jenna Mazzoccoli)

“It’s just so fun to go discover them. We are literally weaving our music in the landscape,” Alecia said. “And we’re now the soundtrack to Houston’s waterway.”

Experience ROCO’s rich and extensive range while soaking in the beauty of the bayou. The initiative will be in place through Dec. 31, in celebration of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s fifth anniversary. Find more information on QR code locations here and more details about Buffalo Bayou’s upcoming anniversary celebrations.

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