About Us


The Mannheim Rocket Orchestra is the premier period-instrument ensemble of Northern  Virginia.  Named for one of the musical innovations of the Mannheim school where composers introduced a number of novel ideas into the orchestral music of their day, one of which was the Mannheim Rocket, a swiftly ascending passage typically having a rising arpeggiated melodic line together with a crescendo starting at the bottom of the orchestra rising swiftly to the top of the orchestra. Mannheim Rocket was founded in 2013 by the award- winning conductor and clarinetist, Richard Spece.  Spece envisioned an ensemble of the highest caliber able to present the musics of the past in an informed way with brilliance and passion.  Mannheim Rocket consists of world class musicians dedicated to the perfection of their art.

cello, early music, period instrument, mozart, beethoven



The mission of the Mannheim Rocket Orchestra is to enrich lives and inspire passion through the medium of period-instrument performance. Historically-Informed Performance and the resulting musical vitality brings history to life, preserves tradition, celebrates creative genius, and allows audiences to touch what once was. Using authentic instruments and stylistic performance practices of the classical to early-romantic periods, the Mannheim Rocket Orchestra seeks to engage audiences through world-class performances, tours, education, and community outreach.

Artistic Statement

Mannheim Rocket’s pursuit of the highest quality music making and it’s mission is based upon these artistic principles:

1.  Great music is timeless, impacting the listener’s quality of life on an emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual level, all within a communal context.
2.  Period-instrument performance, executed at the highest level, brings to the listener a unique soundscape and listening experience. Historically-informed performance includes performing music with a passion, eloquence, precision, and vitality.
3.  Great musics from the past performed with authentic instruments preserves a rich and colorful tradition of music making. This allows contemporary audiences to experience history in a way that is intimate and readily available in their community. Additionally, this experience enhances the appreciation of history and lends valuable perspective to the preservation and understanding of the orchestral tradition.


Richard Spece

Richard Spece is an internationally recognized musician who conducts and performs throughout the United States, and is a sought after guest lecturer, chamber musician and recording artist. He recorded on the Delos and Crystal Labels and new solo album released on Naxos, July 2014.

Spece has performed in a variety of esteemed venues around the country including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Embassy of France in Washington DC, the Czech Embassy, the Arlene Schnitzer Hall, Benaroya Hall, and Avery Fischer Hall among others. He has performed in numerous chamber music series including the Smithsonian’s Hirshorn Museum and National Gallery Recital Series, the Music in the Mansion Series at the Strathmore, the Alexander Paley Festival, the Music on the Mountain Series, the Mozart Society of California Chamber Music Series, the Instituto de la Cultura Festival de Primavera, the Cascade Music Festival, the PRIME series in Baltimore, Capital Hill Chamber Music Festival, Garth Newel Chamber Festival, the Embassy Series in Washington, DC, the Summer Festival of Sacred Music in New York City.

As a period clarinetist, Spece founded the critically acclaimed period-instrument chamber ensemble, Saeculum Aureum Players and has performed with such ensembles as the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Ama Deus Ensemble, California Bach Society, Magnificat, Classical Consort, Concert Spirituel, and Opera Lafayette. He also founded Circa 1800, Woodwind Quintet which has toured throughout the United States. Mr. Spece received critical acclaim for his period-instrument recording, Vintage Woodwinds, on Crystal Records which received outstanding reviews from the BBC Music Magazine, Fanfare Magazine, American Record Guide, Peninsula Reviews, The Seattle Times, The Instrumentalist, Classics Today, The Clarinet, De Klarinet, and L’ovabese. 

Spece earned a Doctor of Music degree at the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.