Musician Spotlights - Silvio Rocha, Viola





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Musician Spotlights - Silvio Rocha, Viola
By Musician Spotlights • Issue #38 • View online
The new year brings us to another National holiday - National Viola Day. The official day isn’t until the 30th, so we’re spotlighting our viola section throughout the month, starting with Silvio!

Question 1: Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m currently 26 years old and live in San Jose, California. I am originally from Managua, Nicaragua, though we moved to the US when I was 1. I’ve been playing the viola since the 6th grade, only occasionally switching to violin when absolutely necessary. I received my BA in Music from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2017.
I currently work as the librarian for San Jose Youth Symphony in San Jose and South Valley Symphony in Gilroy, California. SJYS has 12 different ensembles, so most of my time is spent running around scanning pieces and writing in bowings. To fill up the rest of the time, I try to play in as many local orchestras as I can. A day without a rehearsal feels like a day wasted.
Question 2: What brought or inspired you to pursue viola? If you’d like to share one of your favorite pieces of music as well, I’d like to know!
I was introduced to the viola, and classical music, by complete chance. In middle school we were given the choice to choose elective classes. I stubbornly refused to fill out the form since no classes offered interested me, so I was randomly placed in an orchestra class. There, I chose viola only because I had never heard of it before.
I was completely entranced by how engaging playing an instrument was, I remember at the time it felt like playing a video game in terms of having my hands do a bunch of crazy things (I was a bit of a video game addict back then). Combine that with the best music teacher I’ve ever had, and I just couldn’t stop. I did a complete 180 in middle school, since before that I was pretty close to detesting music, I used to find no enjoyment in it. 
My favorite piece is hard to choose, but for a while now it’s been Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements. Stravinsky’s particular blend of constant time signature changes, tonal ambiguity, and intense rhythmic drive just does it for me in a way few other pieces can.
Question 3: What do you enjoy most about being with the Rogue Valley Symphony?
The Rogue Valley Symphony is the first orchestra position I’ve ever had, and I absolutely love the combination of fast paced detail work, it’s the sort of thing I’ve always wanted out of playing in an orchestra. I’m not a very social person, but I do also enjoy the camaraderie of the viola section, all of them are such nice people and have made me feel very welcome.
Question 4: What do you do when you’re not playing music i.e. what are your hobbies or interests?
I don’t do much besides music! Listening to music, reading through scores and the occasional video game are about it. Very rarely I’ll try to arrange something, but it usually doesn’t go well.
Question 5: Finally, one unusual fact, story, or tidbit about you or your instrument?  
The instrument I own, a 2016 Jay Haide, purchased a month before my first set with Rogue Valley in 2019, is the only instrument I’ve ever owned. All of my previous instruments have been either borrowed from schools, or rentals. It’s not the most unusual thing in the world, but this will soon be the longest I’ve ever had one instrument. Getting to know the ins and outs of it, and knowing there’s still so much more to learn about it, AND knowing that it’s not going anywhere… that’s unusual (but also intensely satisfying) for me.
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