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. During his undergraduate studies, Orlando was recognized as the most outstanding student from the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. He has the dual distinction as the first marimbist to receive the Artist Diploma and the first marimbist to win the Yale Gordon Concerto Competition from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. For Orlando's outstanding achievement in music, the Mayor of his hometown Cayey has honored him as a distinguished resident.
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 international festivals, including Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and conducting numerous workshops and master classes in colleges and universities throughout the United States. He has also been invited to perform as guest artist in Asia, Mexico, Central and South American.
A sought-after performing and recording artist, Orlando has collaborated with music legends of this generation, including Andy Gonzalez, Darin Atwater, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Edwin Colón Zayas. As a virtuoso on the conga drums, Latin Beat magazine calls Orlando's "solid conga drumming a percussive pillar." He has been the conguero of Panoramic, a fusion band lead by Pan virtuoso Liam Teague. For nearly a decade, he was the lead conguero of Rumba Club, one of East Coast's popular Latin Jazz ensembles. These collaborations have lead to performances 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. As one of the Semifinalists at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Hand Drum Competition, Orlando performed in front of an impressive panel of judges including Candido, Ray Barretto, Milton Cardona, Big Black, and Babatunde Olatunji. Orlando is a performing artist endorsed by Yamaha, ProMark, Sabian and Latin Percussion. He is a faculty member at Northern Illinois University.