Grupo illiniza was established in 1979 in Quito city and debuted on TV by winning a national music contest. The ensemble was created with the idea of culturally linking and preserving the different nationalities and music of the communities that make up Latin America. It all began at the Instituto Nacional Mejía of Quito, a high school made up of city youth, some of whom were quite concerned about the reality of the time, and wanted to do something proactively in order to change things and influence people in a positive way.
To talk about Latin America, its music and traditions, means speaking about its cultural identity. Only by getting closer to those communities that still preserve the roots of their nationhood and engaging with their different cultural manifestations (i.e. song, music, dance, art), can we begin to understand the reasons for their behavior, assess their roles in history and their struggles to preserve a millenarian, multicultural heritage that has defied the incessant alienation to which it has been subjected.
Grupo illiniza has performed on stage next to musicians and dancing ensembles from Latin America, North America, Europe and Asia such as Inti-Illimani, Joan Manuel Serrat, Luis Eduardo Aute, Mercedes Sosa, Silvio Rodríguez, León Gieco, The Moscow Ballet, Piero De Benedictis, Alex Alvear, Los Olimareños, Los Visconti, Tito Fernández, Illapu, Gabino Palomares, Los Folkloristas, Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Vicente Feliú, Tania Libertad, Quinteto Tiempo, Manuel Capella, Grupo Raiz, Noel Nicola, Kosetsu Minami, Adrian Goizueta, Pueblo Nuevo, Jaime Guevara, Roy Brown, Carlos Díaz "Caíto", Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy, among others.
The members of the group are generally invited to tour European or American countries with the purpose of sharing their repertoire which is varied and elaborate, demonstrating instrumental and vocal virtuosity in festivals and concerts that include performing genres such as fusion, world music, folk, Latin, trova, Afro Caribbean, Andean, Brazilian, and nueva canción, among others.
In 2010 Grupo illiniza received several Awards in a national music composition contest entitled Canción de los Andes which is organized yearly by the Education Ministry of Ecuador. The categories include Innovation of Musical Genre and Execution of musical instruments.
Throughout its long musical career spanning over 30 years, the Association has received several National and International awards as well as distinctions including trophies, gold and silver medals, certifications in European as well as American music and dance competitions, festivals and concert performances. They have also been awarded the prestigious title Ambassadors of Art and Friendship in Belgium.
Two books and other publications cite Grupo illiniza as a reference in various musical genres. These include Andean Music and Ecuadorian Musical Groups.
Grupo illiniza has been recognized by respected musicologists like director and musical composer Julio Bueno as being one of the most important representative groups of Ecuador's popular music.