Inti-Illimani with John Williams on guitar

Inti Illimani means Sun God in Aymara, a language of the Andean Highlands. Led by Horacio Salinas, Inti Illimani created a blend of Chilean, Classical, Baroque and Flamenco music. The group was exiled by Pinochet's government in 1973 and relocated to Rome. In recent years they have returned to live in Chile.


Around 1986 Paco Pena and John Williams joined the group for a series of recordings and a world tour. I was lucky enough to see them at the Sydney Opera House and it was a feast of exciting guitar rhythms and styles. As well as guitar, the group features harp, flute, piccolo, saxophones and traditional instruments:

  • pandereta ... drums
  • bombo ... a drum made from a tree trunk
  • kena, zampona, randador ... pipes
  • tiple ... Colombian 12 string guitar
  • charango ... a very small guitar with the soundbox made from an armadillo

John Williams with Inti-Illimani in 1986
John Williams with Inti-Illimani in 1986