My Top 5: ROCO Founder Alecia Lawyer

Alecia Lawyer posing while holding an oboe
Alecia Lawyer of ROCO | Photo: Julie Soefer

Our My Top 5 series highlights a Houstonian who is shaping the culture of the city and making an out-sized impact on its character.

In turn, each shares their own favorite things to do in Houston when not hard at work. 

This week, we’re very pleased to feature Alecia Lawyer, founder, artistic director and Principal Oboist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra

My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston

by Alecia Lawyer

  1. Discovery Green – How impactful is this space?! It should be the model for all cities to learn how to reinvigorate downtowns and make a thriving, art-fused gathering space for communities. To reactivate a downtown means you reactivate the people. Not trying to be fancy, but trying to be gathering. It’s truly a place where you can gather and come be. We’re human beings, not human doings. That’s such a cheesy thing to say, but it’s true. It’s the one place I can go and just stroll and see something different every time.
  2. The Ion – As an orchestra, we don’t just do concerts. We try and I try to align myself in our organization with people thinking innovatively in all sectors. There’s a mentality [at the Ion] of anything goes, everything goes. Who can align, what can we talk about? It’s truly trying to find a mashup of minds. It’s exciting to see, even if you just walk around in the Ion, what can happen. That’s what I love about it. It’s absolutely what Houston does—thinking forward and how to align with people.
  3. The Historic Eldorado Ballroom – We don’t just do concerts, we do place-specific collaborative experience performances. When I heard it was renovating, I talked to one of my violinists, Rachel Jordan, because she’s African American, from New Orleans and from a jazz family there. Her dad, Kidd, played there in the ’70s. So, I asked her if she would do a chamber concert half-classical, half-jazz in his memory, and what was even more fun, it’s a beautiful space. What an incredible job by Project Row Houses and Chef Chris [Williams].
  4. The Hive Pop-Up Collective – I love this store in Rice Village that is a collective of Houston women entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s really wonderful, high-quality clothing, gifts and accessories. At the same time, it’s these women who are really thriving and just really a microcosm of Houston—how you pull together and you lift each other up, have the best quality, and just find ways to keep each other moving forward. It’s not just a shop.
  5. Houston Center for Musical Arts (HCMA) – I am proud to be a part of a group of people who have come together to transform the former Heights Christian Church into the Houston Center for Musical Arts. Over the next couple of years, we will create two vibrant music halls for chamber music, as well as a community gathering space for all. There are 62 chamber music groups in Houston that have no home. There are a lot of musical groups that just need one night here or there and it’s hard to slot in and fit. As an example, ROCO has played in 67 venues, trying to seek out these places that are there, and this one will provide two 300-seat concert halls in the coming years.

About Alecia Lawyer

Named by Musical America as one of classical music’s Top 30 Influencers, Juilliard graduate Alecia Lawyer is the founder, artistic director and Principal Oboist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra.

ROCO, with its 40 dynamic, engaging and virtuosic professional musicians from around the nation as well as guest conductors from around the world, weaves musicians and audiences together with the language of music through innovative programming and creative collaborations.

Ms. Lawyer was named a finalist for Texas Musician of the Year (along with Willie Nelson) and was listed as one of Houston’s Top 50 Most Influential Women.

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A longtime Houstonian, Justin Jerkins always keeps an eye out for what's ahead on Houston's horizon while serving as Editor-in-Chief of 365 Things to Do in Houston. When he's not passing along the latest events, destinations and hidden treasures in H-Town, he loves diving into the city's food scene, shopping local and learning about Houston's rich history.