Hailed by the critics as “The guitar guru” (E-Veritas. University of Miami) “the powerful and intense style of Iliana Matos" (Classical Guitar Magazine) has made possible an extraordinary career. Following the tradition of María Luisa Anido, the Great Lady of Guitar, who, when hearing Iliana play, wrote: “I am impressed by your wonderful guitaristic art, and I am proud to know that a woman (and a Cuban woman!) came to such a degree of artistic perfection”. Barcelona 1995.
After hearing Iliana Matos perform in Caracas, the legendary Alirio Díaz wrote: "Her refined technique, always put at the service of a personal musicality, is what more can surprise in the guitar art of the Cuban and Latin American virtuosa Iliana Matos. All this, added to other exquisite qualities, has made her an appealing personality within our world of music". Venezuela 1992.
Iliana Matos graduated from the National School of Art in Havana where she studied with José Angel Pérez Puente. She earned a Bachelor of Music (Classical Guitar Performance) from the Superior Institute of Havana (where her teachers included Rey Guerra, Miguel Bonachea and Jesús Ortega), and received a Special Diploma given to the most outstanding graduate for her artistic creative work. She continued her studies with Gabriel Estarellas at the Royal Music Conservatory of Madrid and graduated with a Master of Music Degree from de Extremadura University under Ricardo Gallén. As a student she participated in master classes with Leo Brouwer, David Russell, Sharon Isbin, Costas Cotsiolis, Tania Chagnot, Paolo Paolini, Tomás Müller, Wolfgang Lendle, Carlos Bonell, Juan Carlos Rivera and Joaquín Clerch.
Prize winner of eleven major international competitions, including first prizes in the Andrés Segovia in Palma de Mallorca, Luys Milán, and Manuel Ponce International Guitar Competitions. She made history by becoming the first woman to win the prestigious S.A.R. La Infanta Doña Cristina International Guitar Competition, and the only person to win the special prize for Best Interpretation of Spanish Music in two consecutive years, 1995 and 1996.
Her highly acclaimed GSP CD “Angels in The Street” has earned universal acclaim from critics, placing her among the elite of today's classical guitarists: “Her name deserves to go down in guitar history as one of the great players of our time." (Classical Guitar Magazine); "a match-made-in-heaven recording that is about as perfect as guitar records get... she simply, radiantly shines, a virtuoso in service to the music" (American Record Guide); "she has sufficient of all credentials necessary to take her place in the annals of guitar as one of its truly gifted and outstanding exponents." (Musicweb-international.com), "it's impossible while listening to 'Angels' to believe that her name will not someday ring the same peal of recognition as does Bream and Williams" (Minor7th.com).
As an ambassador of the Ibero-American guitar, she performed as soloist with the National Orchestra of Oporto at the VIII Ibero-American Summit and for the Spanish Royal Family in 1998.
Her presentation at the National Auditorium of Spain together with the Classical Orchestra of Madeira received the news headline “Special triumph in a model program ". In the same review: "In both concerts Cuban guitarist Iliana Matos’ solos scored a sound success after playing them with beautiful, round sound, effortless technique and blatant musicality". ABC. García Del Busto. Madrid 2000.
With her love of contemporary music and desire to develop the guitar repertoire, Iliana Matos has premiered works by numerous composers, including Eduardo Morales, Tomás Marco, Zulema de la Cruz, Gabriel Estarellas, Flores Chaviano, Ileana Pérez, Madays Andino, Ñico Rojas, Yalil Guerra, Luis Mario Ochoa and Eduardo Martín. As well, she has performed extensively throughout Latin American, USA, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Living in Spain for the past 20 years, she has contributed to the development of a new generation of Spanish guitarists while teaching at the Escola Luthier of Barcelona (Ramon Llull University), Conservatory Profesional of Plasencia, and the Conservatory of the Balearics, the Conservatory of Salamanca and the Royal Music Conservatory of Madrid.
In addition to this, she regularly gives master classes all over the world and has performed at numerous festivals such as Cordoba Guitar Festival, Spanish Music Festival of León, International Festival of Contemporary Spanish Music, Miguel Llobet Guitar Festival, Antonio Lauro Guitar Festival, Monterrey Guitar Festival, Belo Horizonte Guitar Festival, and the Viña del Mar Guitar Festival.
She has recorded for labels in Spain and the United States of America, including GSP Recordings, Albany Records, Gadiraifa and Verso.
She was included in the Dictionary of the Spanish and Latin American Music, SGAE 2000 and 2011 Supplement of the Encyclopedia of the Guitar, and her CD “Angels in the Street” was listed in the “Guitar’s TOP 100" written by the Canadian musicologist Enrique Robichaud.