For over thirty years, Inti-Illimani has been bringing the exquisite sounds of South America to the world at large. Formed in Santiago, Chile, the group was exiled from their homeland during the reign of Dictator Augusto Pinochet. As a result, they are celebrated as cultural heroes as well as out... more
Inti-Illimani - pronounced "Inte-E-gee-mane"
In Ayamara dialect: Inti - "sun," Illimani - a mountain near La Paz, Bolivia
For over three decades the music of Inti-Illimani has intoxicated audiences around the globe. Wedded in traditional Latin American roots and playing on more than 30 wind, string and percussion instruments, Inti-Illimani’s compositions are a treasure for the human spirit. Their mellifluous synthesis of instrumentals and vocals captures sacred places, people’s carnivals, daily lives, loves and pains that weave an extraordinary cultural mural.
Known for their open-minded musical approach, the "Intis" had a much different mission in mind when they met in the 1960’s at Santiago Technical University -- to become engineers. Luckily for the world, their love of music encouraged their restless souls to explore the indigenous cultures of Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina. In some of the poorest, purest and most ancient cultures they discovered Andean music and in a sense their roots. Inti-Illimani’s music became Latin America’s visceral link between pueblo and people, vivified in Nueva Canción.
In 1973, Chilean President Salvador Allende was deposed while Inti-Illimani was on tour in Europe. The young musicians found themselves without patria or passport. Italy became their home for the next 14 years. In 1988, they were warmly welcomed back to Chile, moving home permanently in 1990. Inti-Illimani became, and remains, South America’s ambassadors of human expression. Their unique sound - forged with passion and poetry - is a mantra for peace in the world and within ourselves.
They have appeared on Amnesty International stages with Peter Gabriel , Bruce Springsteen, Mercedes Sosa, Sting, and Wynton Marsalis and at benefit concerts for the Victor Jara Foundation (London, Dortmund, Glasgow) with Peter Gabriel, Paco Peña, John Williams, Emma Thompson, Karen Matheson, Maria Farantouri, Salsa Celtica, and the Rambert Dance Company.
Jorge Coulon, a founding member, in an interview stated: "We have never been so political that it was propaganda. We are not a political group in that sense, but we have always been politically engaged. We have a concept of society and about the relationships between human beings, and we try to translate our ideas into our sound, not to be part of one political party or another but in the sense to bring about a better world."
In 2000, Inti-Illimani signed a worldwide license agreement with Warner Brothers Latin America. To date Warner has released The Best of Inti-Illimani: 1973-1987, Inti-Illimani performs Victor Jara (a selection of works by the late Chilean composer, singer, poet, actor and close friend of the Intis) and Inti-Illimani: Antologia en vivo (live tracks spanning 33 years). Xenophile Records also released The Best of Inti-Illimani (XENO4055) with works from the four titles they did with Xenophile during the 1990s.
During 2001, Inti-Illimani toured throughout South America, Italy, Spain, Mexico and North America, ending the year with a tour of Chile and Argentina with John Williams and Paco Peña. Inti-Illimani continues to be the most nominated group at the annual Entertainment Journalist Association Awards Ceremony in Santiago.
Recently Inti-Illimani has welcomed three younger musicians into the fold -- Manuel Merino, Juan Flores and Christian Gonzalez -- and they’ve brought a new energy and passion into the group. This line-up debuted in America in 2002 to great acclaim, and shortly thereafter went into studio in Santiago, Chile, to record.
In April 2003, the group released Lugares Comunes (XENO4056) "common places" on Xenophile Records, their first studio album in five years. The album is alive with a spirit of musical resurgence and rejuvenation for the band. Now in its 35th season, Inti-Illimani’s music, influenced by their numerous encounters with other cultures, has illustriously evolved with powerful poetry and provocative instrumental textures.