The Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock has reverberated with the sounds of Rosemarie Ochoa’s voice for years, from the cries at her baptism as an infant to cantoring during priestly ordinations.
The 23-year-old Hendrix College graduate, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music and Spanish last year, has been the assistant organist at the Cathedral since fall 2021 Though she grew up primarily attending Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock singing in the choir, she went to the Cathedral to cantor.
“I think something that’s lovely about music; you don’t have to necessarily come up with the words yourself, you can listen to create and reflect,” she said, adding that she tries to bring to life the meaning of a hymn. “If there’s a storm in a verse how do I show or emphasize that with the organ (or my voice). I don’t necessarily have to come up with the words myself but go where the music leads me.”
Ochoa enjoys directing the choir occasionally and participates in Masses, chorale programs and cantoring for large diocesan events like ordinations and the Chrism Mass. In the moments after a hymn concludes, there are times Ochoa can create interludes to fill the silence.
“Improvising can be really fun. It’s a moment where I can have the Holy Spirit guide me,” she said, making it “a very contemplative, prayerful moment.”
Hearkening back to her college studies, Ochoa said she hopes to one day be the lead musician in a large diverse Cathedral somewhere in the United States “where I can incorporate in multicultural music” from lesser-known Spanish composers and collaborate with other musicians.
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