Latin American classical music is rich, diverse and multifaceted. The region’s composers draw their inspiration from sources that range from the Aztec, Incan and Mayan cultures, to folk tradition and popular music. From the grandeur of the Andes to the flora and fauna of the rain forest, nature, too, has influenced many generations of Latin American composers. At the same time, the region has been a fertile ground in which contemporary European and North American musical styles have flourished. Is there anywhere else in the world that can boast of such musical heterogeneity?

And yet, Gilbert Chase’s observation is as true now as it was nearly 80 years ago!

Indeed, you might say that Latin American classical music is trapped in a vicious circle. Today, there is far less Latin American classical music being performed in this country than one might think. In turn, fewer performances mean fewer recordings. In fact, not even a single note has been recorded of most every Latin American composer who has ever lived. This problem also extends to the academic world. Here in Virginia, for example, of the commonwealths’s 26 major colleges and universities, only one of these offers a class in Latin American classical music. And at a recent convention of the world’s largest body of Latin Americanists, the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), out of the nearly 4000 papers that were presented, only one of these focused on Latin American classical music.

Vicious Circle Graphic


Consequently, CILASiM was formed to address this need and to serve as one of the world’s leading advocates for Latin American classical music, and in so doing, develop bonds of goodwill and unity among the peoples of the Americas. In pursuit of this mission, CILASiM is providing impactful opportunities for composers, performers and scholars, while at the same time enhancing the understanding of Latin American classical music among musicians and the general public. The organization is led by President and CEO Dr. John L. Walker, who as a musicologist has written extensively about Latin American classical music, particularly as it relates to the emigration of European musicians to Latin America from about 1850 to 1920. Walker is also the co-founder of Cayambis Music Press, the publishing arm of the Cayambis Institute, which during the past ten years has published hundreds of works by contemporary composers from throughout Latin America, as well as a growing number of historically significant compositions from the 19th and 20th centuries.

As an essential part of CILASiM, all profits generated by Cayambis Music Press are used in support of CILASiM programs and services.

Board of Directors.

The Cayambis Institute is being guided by the following able and dedicated individuals.

  • John L. Walker
  • Catalina Walker
  • Ludeman Eng
  • Gabriela Calderón Cornejo


  • Leon Burke, Grant Writing
  • Juan López-Maya, Arranger
  • Jorge Oviedo, Copyist

Next steps.

Here at CILISiM, we are using the richness and diversity of Latin American classical music as bridge to connect all Americans, north, central and south. And we’re doing this for a simple reason: we think it’s better to be connected to our neighbors, whether they’re next door, or thousands of miles away. If you feel the same way, we’d like you to know that there are a number of important ways by which you can help us reach our goals and objectives:

Donate buttonOther Ways to Help

The Cayambis Institute for Latin American Studies in Music (CILASiM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, EIN 84-272763.