Leonardo R Soto Jr. has been Principal Timpanist of the Houston Symphony since 2019, having previously served as Principal Timpanist of the Charlotte Symphony and Michigan Opera Theatre-Detroit Opera House.
As an educator, Mr. Soto is a faculty member at Queens University of Charlotte, Artist in residence at Central Piedmont College as well as instructor for the Charlotte Youth Symphony program. As a clinician, Leonardo has done masterclasses around the USA, including PASIC s Pennsylvania day of percussion, University of Charlotte NC, and East Michigan University. Leonardo often travels back to his native Chile to perform recitals, masterclasses and clinics that take place at the National University of Chile, the Youth Symphony foundation and the National Symphony concert hall, where students arrive from Argentina, Peru, Uruguay among other South American countries.
As a soloist, Mr. Soto made his debut with the Charlotte Symphony in 2012 and has been invited to perform with the Amarillo Symphony in Texas and various University percussion ensembles in the North Carolina and Georgia area. In January 2017, Mr. Soto will perform the world premiere of Evolution Percussion Concerto written for him by composer Leonard Mark Lewis.
Mr. Soto has been part of music festivals in Maryland, Brevard NC, and Steamboat Springs in Colorado as timpanist and percussionist for orchestral and chamber music series.
Mr. Soto is the first native Hispanic Timpanist in the USA, beginning his Bachelor's degree at the University of Chile where he received the 'Teatro Municipal of Santiago National Scholarship for 4 years. At the same time, he was trained as a Latin percussionist by his own father Mr. Leonardo Soto Sr., who is one of Chile's most prominent musicians in the field. Mr. Soto began his professional career as a substitute Percussionist with the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Symphony of Chile, gaining experience in Orchestral, Opera and Ballet repertoire.
In 1997 he received the 'Fundacion Andes International Scholarship'. This award was received after competing internationally against young musicians from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. The Scholarship brought him to finish his education in the USA at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh PA, where he studied with Timpanist Timothy Adams from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. After relocating to the United States, Mr. Soto has worked and toured 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. Also as a Latin Percussionist, Mr. Soto has recorded and toured with a number of artists and bands from Pennsylvania, Southern Michigan, and the New York area. In 2009 Mr. Soto was made an honorary student at Cleveland State University, by his most recent teacher Mr. Tom Freer of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Leonardo is proudly endorsed by Pearl/Adams percussion, Remo Drum heads, and Luft Mallets.