Raised in the traditions of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican music, Orlando Cotto learned to play conga drums when he was just five years old. Since that time he has developed a successful career as a marimbist and percussionist. Orlando was awarded the Pro Arte Ferdman Grant as the most outstanding student while completing his bachelor's degree in percussion performance at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. While pursuing graduate work at Indiana University, the Mayor of Cayey honored Orlando as a distinguished resident for his outstanding achievement in music. Orlando was the first marimbist to receive the Artist Diploma from Peabody Conservatory of Music and that same year, he appeared with Peabody Symphony Orchestra as the Winner of the Yale Gordon Concerto Competition.
According to the San Juan Star, Orlando is "an artist of musical sensitivity and accomplished technique." As a solo marimbist, Orlando brings together his solid classical training and Latin American background to create a powerful combination of rhythm and music previously uncharted in the marimba world. He has performed at numerous international festivals, including Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and conducting workshops and master classes in colleges and universities throughout the United States. He has also been invited to perform as guest artist in Mexico, Central and South American.
As a virtuoso on the conga drums, Latin Beat magazine calls Orlando’s “solid conga drumming . . . a percussive pillar.” He has been the lead conguero of the Rumba Club (http://www.rumbaclub.com), one of East Coast's popular Latin Jazz ensembles. The band has performed at major venues in the U.S. including the Telluride Jazz Celebration in Colorado, The Blue Room in Kansas City, Blue Note and Birdland in New York City, Blues Ally and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Orlando was one of the Semifinalists at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Hand Drum Competition, performing in front of an impressive panel of judges including Candido, Ray Barretto, Milton Cardona, Big Black, and Babatunde Olatunji.
A sought-after recording artist, Orlando has collaborated with music legends of this generation, including Andy Gonzalez, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Edwin Colón Zayas. His first solo marimba recording Caribeños – Latin American Music for the Marimba received critical and popular acclaim. Percussive Notes praised it: “The immediacy and vitality of the music on [Caribeños] impresses the listener from the very first selection.” His second marimba recording A Little Prayer is a tribute to his classical training. Orlando’s newest CD Landmark- Afro-Cuban Music for the Marimba features artists Michael Spiro and Juan Alamo released 2010. In 2018 Mr. Cotto was the musical director for the Musical Journey Boundless by Gorge Tilson. Orlando is an exclusively performing artist endorsed by Yamaha, ProMark, Croaker Percussion and Latin Percussion.