Luca Esposito


Photo by Matt Dine


Toronto Symphony Orchestra, substitute, 2021–23; Verbier Festival Orchestra, 2023; Pacific Music Festival, 2022; Music Academy of the West, 2019; Round Top Festival Institute, 2017

Was there a teacher who was particularly impactful/helpful? What made this instructor stand out?

Sean Ritenauer for beginning to build my technical foundation, interpretive skills, and drawing inspiration. Dan Bauch for expanding my creativity, dexterity, and knowledge. Charles Settle for building my listening skills, sound concept, introducing me to the
professional world, and being the best mentor and audition coach that I could have asked for.

What made you decide to become a musician? Was there a particular performance or person that influenced your decision?

My love for music began at a very young age when I began drumming on whatever pots and pans I could find in the kitchen. I began college as a music business student, combining my two passions—music and business—into one. As I began to study music more intensely and practice increasingly, my desire to perform pushed me to achieve bigger and better goals, until eventually I found myself performing around the world and auditioning for America’s biggest orchestras.

How would you like to see orchestra concerts evolve in the future?

More diverse audiences and less emphasis on physical appearance. The concert hall should be home to anyone who loves and respects the art form, or simply wants to try a new experience.

What is the most memorable performance you ever had?

At the Round Top Festival in 2017 the orchestra performed Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite No. 2. There are moments of that evening that will forever live with me, and I occasionally reminisce about it with a fellow friend and colleague that I met that summer. It is hard to explain, you just had to be there.

Honorable mention goes to my performances with the Toronto Symphony, as well as two chamber music performances: Bye Bye Medley (Bob Becker) at Round Top 2017 and Okho (Iannis Xenakis) at Pacific Music Festival 2022.

What is your proudest achievement as a musician?

Reaching the finals in the Seattle Symphony section percussion audition last year was a very rewarding experience. My years of training and dedication solidified all at once. It was a humbling and honoring experience to be close to winning a position with a major orchestra. I hope to continue this path and win an audition in the near future!

Is there a person or people you most respect in your field and why?

There are three principal percussionists (among others) from three major orchestras that have left a large legacy in the percussion world due to their exceptional playing and teaching styles, and they have all influenced me and inspired me in some way: Christopher Lamb (New York), Will Hudgins (Boston), and Charles Settle (Toronto).

Can you share any memorable onstage mishaps?

In the summer of 2023 at the Verbier Festival, we were playing Wynton Marsalis’ Trumpet Concerto. There is a quick section in which various members of the orchestra clap together in unison, and let’s just say I had an improvised clap solo in the performance. This funny moment is still on the internet.

Do you have a favorite non-classical musician or band?

Guns N’ Roses

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

Making pizza (my second profession) and working at a sports arena

What is a surprising part of playing your instrument that you think most people don’t know?

The “accessory” instruments—such as tambourine, triangle, cymbals, and bass drum—are very technically demanding and require just as much attention and refinement as the larger percussion instruments.

What is the biggest challenge and/or surprise about playing in an orchestra?

Placement. Standing in the very back of the stage, a percussionist must place his beat slightly ahead of the majority of the orchestra in order to sound in-time to the audience’s ears.

What advice would you give your younger self or anyone starting out?

Practice. Be focused. Be healthy. Take time off. Listen. Listen to yourself, your colleagues, your teachers, recordings, rehearsals, self-recordings, mock auditions, and anything that you could possibly listen to!