Society / Featured Parties

Music, Porsches and the Next Beethoven — This ROCO Gala Turns a River Oaks Dealership Into a Soaring Party Setting

A Huge Chunk of a $1.8 Million Annual Budget Raised

BY // 09.29.22
photography Daniel Ortiz

Fresh from a concert at The Church of St. John the Divine, ROCO musicians and guests were on a musical high as they motored several blocks away to Porsche River Oaks where the second part of the evening would soon be underway. It was the launch of the chamber orchestra’s 18th season and 10th annual gala.

This one begun with herald trumpeters joined by founder and artistic director Alicia Lawyer and emcee Mya Shay waving a checkered racing flag from the dealership’s balcony.

17. Marty Finger, Phoebe Tudor, Stephanie Tsuru, Leigh Smith, Shawn Stephens (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Marty Finger, Phoebe Tudor, Stephanie Tsuru, Leigh Smith, Shawn Stephens at the ROCO Revelry gala dinner at Porsche River Oaks. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Members of the 40-piece chamber orchestra assembled with more than 265 guests for a seated dinner and brief program in the dealership’s second floor showroom where a single Porsche belied the true character of the “ballroom.” Swift + Company did a remarkable job of transforming the vast space with soaring glass walls into a colorful dinner setting as well as curating and sponsoring the dinner.

Applause, applause to chair Stephanie Tsuru who led the charge that raised more than $320,000 in support ROCO’s $1.8 million annual budget.

In a special moment for honoree Leslie Blanton, a longtime advocate for and supporter of ROCO, three members of the orchestra performed a brief segment from her favorite classical work, Handle’s Water Music.

Presented with ROCO’s Wildcatter in the Arts award was Matthew Loden, dean of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, a founding ROCO board member and a member of ROCO’s International Artistic Advisory Council. Frost Bank was recognized as ROCO’s Corporate Pillar of the Arts, with Ronald Joe accepting the award.

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It was a festive evening with the cocktail hour featuring the signature ROCO Rum Rider, provided by William Price Distillery. While guests schmoozed on the ground floor of the dealership, the soundtrack was ROCO’s favorite playlist.

The fundraiser began with the concert  under the baton of ROCO’s artistic partner Mei-Ann Chen with a spectacular premiere from composer Michael Abels, who wrote the score for the movies Get Out and Nope, as well as Beethoven Symphony No. 5 and Mariachi Imperial.

“We are on a mission to find the next Bachs and Beethovens of our time,” Lawyer told the dinner gathering. “And we have found one tonight,” she said in reference to Abels.

20. Concert attendee smile for the camera at the exciting opening of ROCO’s 18th seaon (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
ROCO patrons attending the concert at The Church of St. John the Divine (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

Porsche River Oaks mirrors the innovation and quality for which ROCO leadership strives, making it the perfect location for Houstonians to come together in celebrating innovation in music,” Lawyer says. “We are honored for the incredible support of ROCO’s shaping the future of classical music and providing performances free-of-charge to audience members who may not otherwise have access to the arts.

“We could not thrive without this support from our community.”

PC Seen: Frank Tsuru, Jack Blandon, Kristen Loden, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Marty Finger, Cece and Mack Fowler, Phoebe Tudor, Courtnay and Mark Elias, Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Kylee and Ben Siaw, Dorothy and Mickey Abels, Ann and Jonathan Ayre, Brian McCulloch and Jeremy Garcia, and Suzanne and Michael Stewart.

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