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Principal Timpani
Houston Symphony



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Leonardo R. Soto, Jr. was appointed Principal Timpanist of the
Houston Symphony in 2018. Before arriving to Houston, Leo
served as Principal Timpanist of the Charlotte Symphony from
2009 to 2018, and the Michigan Opera Theatre-Detroit Opera
House from 2003 to 2009. He was also an active member of
Miami's Nu-Deco ensemble.
Leo has the unique distinction of being the first native Hispanic
Timpanist to play in a major orchestra in the United States.
As an educator, Leonardo has been guest in clinics and
masterclasses at Universities such as Northwestern, DePaul,
Rice, Denver, North Carolina, Houston, University of Georgia,
Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia and Universidad de Chile.
Programs such as Carnegie Hall’s NYO, Filarmónica Joven de
Colombia, Programa de Orquestas Juveniles de Chile and
classes for percussion studios at Puerto Rico, Brazil, Bolivia and
Chile. While in Charlotte he was faculty at Queens University of
Charlotte as well as Artist in residence at Central Piedmont
College, and an instructor for the Charlotte Youth Symphony
As a soloist Leonardo made his debut with the Houston
Symphony in 2020, and has guested with the Charlotte
Symphony, Amarillo Symphony and University of North Carolina
percussion ensemble. In January 2017 he performed the world
premiere of “Evolution Percussion Concerto,” written for him by
composer Leonard Mark Lewis.
Mr Soto began his musical education at the University of Chile
and was the recipient of the Teatro Municipal of Santiago National
Scholarship. Concurrently, he was trained as a Latin percussionist
by his father, Mr. Leonardo Soto, Sr., one of Chile's most
prominent musicians in the field. Leo embarked on his
professional career with the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra and
the National Symphony Orchestra of Chile, where he gained
experience in orchestral, opera and ballet repertoire. In 1997, he
received the Fundación Andes International Scholarship, which
brought him to the US and Carnegie Mellon University, where he
studied with Timpanist Timothy Adams from the Pittsburgh
Symphony Orchestra. He was made an honorary student at
Cleveland State University by Tom Freer of the Cleveland
Leonardo has worked with ensembles such as the Pittsburgh
Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, New World
Symphony, City Music Cleveland, Fort Wayne Philharmonic,
Toledo Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, among others. As a
Latin percussionist, he has recorded and toured with a number of
artists from the Pennsylvania, Southern Michigan and New York
Working with Luft Mallets Leo launched his own signature line
of Timpani sticks to the market and is a proud performing artist for
Pearl/Adams Percussion, Adams Percussion, Remo Drumheads,
and Luft Mallets.

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