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 provided the 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!

At the same time, however, this music may be perceived as difficult to interpret by North Americans who are outside of its traditions. In effect, and perhaps due to this reason, there is actually less Latin American classical music being performed in this country than one might think. For instance, many major symphony orchestras do not program a single Latin American work across an entire season; similarly, the conductors of university orchestras are largely unlikely to include Latin American works on their programs. This problem also extends to the academic world. Although many traditional college music programs have been augmented by courses or programs in “world music,” the classical music of Latin America still receives less attention than it deserves. Indeed, 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.

Survey Results graphic

These anecdotal data points were confirmed by our own survey, which shows that a substantial majority of university music faculty has a fair or poor knowledge about Latin American classical music (the orange and blue areas on the above pie chart). It shouldn’t be this way.


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 will provide impactful opportunities to 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 eight years has published hundreds of quality 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 will be 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
  • Vimari Colón-León


  • Victoria Kennedy, Operations Assistant
  • 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:

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