World premieres at Houston’s ROCO evoke human trafficking, climate change

Posted on: February 23, 2022

“Many classical-music organizations shy away from directly challenging their audiences’ values or beliefs. Then there’s ROCO,” writes Chris Gray in Tuesday’s (2/22) Houston Chronicle. At its Feb. 26 concert, the Houston-based chamber orchestra will perform Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and “Leanna Primiani’s ‘Neither Men Nor Money Justify My Worth,’ one of three world premieres at the concert. While the orchestra plays, portraits of human-trafficking survivors supplied by The New Abolitionists photography project will be shown. The idea, says ROCO founder and artistic director Alecia Lawyer, is to raise the serious question of ‘What do we value as a society?’ However … ‘we’re not trying to be a social-justice orchestra…. That’s not part of the agenda.’ What is, she continues, ‘is giving agency to the composers to write what’s on their heart, and write what they’re wrestling with in her own personal lives.’… The concert will open with ‘Earth,’ composer Aaron Jay Kernis’ portrait of a beleaguered farmer [which] reckons with the effects of climate change.” The concert’s third world premiere is Jonathan Leshnoff’s Score. Leanna Primiani’s work was commissioned by the League of American Orchestras with the generous support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.