The Soto String Quartet takes its inspiration from famed Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto (1923-2005). Soto was a proponent of the kinetic art movement. He used a range of techniques to create a sense of movement in his work. The energy expressed in Soto’s art resonates with the members of the Soto quartet, who believe that the artist’s significant contribution to Venezuelan art deserves to be better known. The name Soto Quartet is intended to represent “Energy in Art,” in the name of this important Venezuelan artist.
The four Venezuelan musicians of the Soto Quartet were brought together by ‘El Sistema’ organization in Venezuela. The group advances a vibrant and joyful Venezuelan spirit and models music as a unifying life force between peoples of all nations.
Violinist Jesus Linarez began his musical studies in Venezuela, at the Music Conservatory Vicente Emilio Sojo. Linarez worked with Maestro Jose Francisco del Castillo for seven years at the Latin American Academy and was a member of the Venezuelan orchestra ‘El Sistema,’ serving as a principal with the 2017 National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Linarez participated in tours with three different Venezuelan orchestras: The National Youth Orchestra, the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra, and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela performing in important European cities including Berlin, Munich, Barcelona, Toulouse, London, and prestigious symphony halls such as Berlin Philharmoniker and the “Palau de la Musica Catalana” in Barcelona.
Linarez has performed as a soloist with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela, the Lara Symphony Orchestra, and the Caracas Symphony Orchestra. He has also worked with world-renowned conductors, including Gustavo Dudamel and Sir Simon Rattle.
Linarez was the winner of the first prize of the 2021 Chicago Violin Competition, winner of the Evanston Music Club Scholarship Competition, finalist of the Aeolian Classic Emerging Artist Competition 2020, and semi-finalist of the 2022 Sphinx Competition. Linarez currently studies with Mrs. Almita Vamos at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Chicago.
Violinist Gabriela Lara was the second-place winner of the 2022 Sphinx Competition. She began her music studies at the Music Conservatorio Vicente Emilio Sojo, in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, at the age of 8. Ms. Lara was a member of the Latin American Violin Academy as a student of Jose Francisco del Castillo and Francisco Diaz and a member of ‘El Sistema’ in Venezuela, where she served as a Concertmaster of the Lara Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in 2017. Gabriela Lara toured with the National Children Orchestra of Venezuela in 2013, with the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra in 2014, the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela in 2016, and the Mozart Kinderorchester der Stiftung Mozarteum Mitglieder des National Children’s Symphony of Venezuela, performing in prestigious European festivals and concert halls including the Salzburg Festival and the Berlin Philharmoniker.
Ms. Lara has worked with world-renowned conductors, including Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, Diego Matheuz, Christoph Koncz, and Christian Vazquez. She has performed as a soloist with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, Lara Youth Symphony Orchestra, Lara Symphony Orchestra, Caracas Symphony Orchestra, and Miranda Youth Orchestra in the “Centro de Accion Social por la Musica” in Venezuela and received recognition by the Legislative Council of the Municipality Jimenez in 2011.
Ms. Lara has performed in masterclasses for Ilya Kaler, Ray Chen, Uto Ughi, and Midori. She won the 2019 Roosevelt University Concerto Competition and the 3rd International Violin Competition, in homage to Maestro Frank Preuss. Ms. Lara is currently part of the studio of Almita Vamos at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.
Violist Pedro Mendez, was born in Venezuela and began his musical studies with the ‘El Sistema’ organization. He earned a degree in Violin Performance Arts in Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatory and was part of Academia Latinoamericana de Violín, under the tutelage of Luis Miguel Gonzalez.
Pedro Mendez has served as Professor and Director of the Latin American Violin School professor at the Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatory. During his last years in Venezuela, he was dedicated to teaching and became a Professor and Director of the Latin American Violin School in his hometown and also was appointed Professor at the Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatory. Mendez has appeared as a soloist with Pedro Leon Torres Youth Symphony Orchestra, Lara Symphony Orchestra, and Youth Lara Symphony Orchestra. Currently, Mendez is the Assistant Principal of Illinois Philharmonic and is a regular member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and a Project Inclusion fellow in the Chicago Sinfonietta Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Mendez is enrolled at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in the studio of Mrs. Almita Vamos and Dr. Roland Vamos.
Cellist Lidanys Graterol discovered her passion for the cello at the age of eight, at the Ateneo de Coro in Falcón, Venezuela. She began her studies as a part of José Antonio Abreu’s System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela, known as ‘El Sistema.’ In 2017 Ms. Graterol won a national audition to join Venezuela’s National Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has performed with orchestras throughout Venezuela, including the prestigious Simon Bolivar orchestra.
Ms. Graterol has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the Falcon Symphony Orchestra, the Falcon Regional Symphony Orchestra, and the Rafael Urdaneta Symphony Orchestra, in works of Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Lalo, among other composers. Ms. Graterol was the first prize winner in the 2020 Bellagrande International Music Competition and in the 2020 Chicago College of the Performing Arts Competition. She is a student of Tanya Carey at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Lidanys Graterol is an affiliate artist with Guarneri Hall NFP and performs on a cello by Charles, J.B. Collin Mezin courtesy of Darnton & Hersh Fine Violins and Guarneri Hall NFP in Chicago.