Before beginning his interview with the Record, newly-inaugurated Associate Professor of Music Jose Rocha took the opportunity to clarify a recent misconception.
“This is the first year the instrumentalists have won the Kick-A-Dilly competition,” said Rocha proudly, referring to the annual kickball tournament between the orchestra and choir members. “It was due to a tiny technicality, but we still won. Scott still thinks the choir won, but the trophy is in the orchestra room.”
A full week has passed since classes began on the GC campus, but it seems that Rocha is already beginning to feel at home. Following the leave of former Assistant Professor of Music Christopher Fashun, Rocha has taken up the baton as the GC Symphony Orchestra and All-Campus Band conductor, as well as the applied cello instructor. His past work as a conductor, teacher and performer have taken him from Mexico to the U.S. and overseas, but Rocha seems sure that Goshen is where he wants to be.
“This is where I am and this is where I’d like to make a difference,” said Rocha. “I’d like to make a positive impact on the community.”
Rocha was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and began playing cello at the age of ten. He received a scholarship to study music in the U.S., and completed his bachelors and masters degrees at the University of Florida. Following his completion of graduate school, Rocha spent his time teaching and performing. His impressive musical background includes performing and conducting with renowned artists Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra, Jr. as well as playing with the Southwest Florida Symphony, the Orlando Philharmonic and other distinguished groups. Rocha moved to Texas to live closer to his siblings and completed his doctorate at the University of Houston in 2012.
“I was in a very good place,” said Rocha, referring to his work as a music educator in Texas during the three years following graduation. “I had a really great group of students, an advanced orchestra.”
Although Rocha wasn’t looking for a college job, he was offered a position at Kansas Woodland University at the beginning of this year, but he turned it down. However, his passion for music education had him applying to other schools, and eventually he accepted the position at Goshen College.
“This is a very different place,” said Rocha. “If you see it from my perspective, the students are very committed. They have a very structured discipline and high work ethic, [and are] very compassionate to each other and very supportive. That is what attracted me the most.” At GC, Rocha hopes to encourage and inspire his students towards their one shared goal: music.
“I feel that opportunities are always there for us to take, and the biggest mistake we make is being afraid to take them,” said Rocha. “Whether it’s moving one thousand miles to start a new job or auditioning for an orchestra after not playing for a year, missing an opportunity is the worst thing you can do. So take chances. Sign up for orchestra.”