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A deep commitment to our traditional music

Founding members
of the Cuatro Project:

Juan Sotomayor

is co-founder of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project. His function is to conduct and collect oral history interviews; compile musical field recordings; investigator of published and archived sources; collector of recovered photographs and creator of an extensive archive of new photographs; and finally creator of a historic chronology of the cuatro, its music and craft.

Juan Sotomayor was born in New York City in 1940 of Puerto Rican parents. Until his recent retirement, Juan was a prize-winning photographer living in New Jersey and working on the New York Times staff since 1966. He is also an accomplished guitarist and cuatrista, previously a member of numerous professional groups, having recorded for the Ansonia label in 1957. Currently, he lives in Moca, Puerto Rico and is devoted full-time to the Cuatro Project, completing work on an upcoming textbook on the national instrument, and after that commencing work on a series of teaching methods for the instrument


Juan Sotomayor was the first Puerto Rian photographer to be employed by the New York Times. He is now retired--a resident of Moca, Puerto Rico, and works full time for the Cuatro Project.




Our head researcher Juan Sotomayor recorded on the Ansonia label in 1955 as first guitar for the Trio Los Duques (at left)  The trio members were: Juan Sotomayor, Filo del Moral and Vitín Pagán.

Listen to two recordings made by Juan and theTrio Los Duques in 1955

 Por Besarte a Ti

 Amor Sagrado



  William Cumpiano

is co-founder of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project. To date, his function has been as organizer and transcriber of the graphic and textual materials, and as facilitator, conceptualizer and coordinator of the project.

    William Richard Cumpiano was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1945. He has lived in Western Massachusetts for the last eighteen years. After graduating with a bachelor in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute in New York City in 1968, he worked for several years in New York as a professional furniture designer. During this time he met master guitarmaker Michael Gurian, under whom he apprenticed as a guitarmaker. In 1974, he opened his own guitarmaking studio in Massachusetts. He has been been a professional guitarmaker and teacher of his craft since then, currently in Northampton, Massachusetts.
     In 1992, he founded the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project with Juan Sotomayor.
     He was also a founding board member and president of the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA), an international professional society. He lectured before the society's conventions and also at conventions of the Guild of American Luthiers (GAL). He is co-author of GUITARMAKING: Tradition and Technology, acclaimed as the principal textbook in his field. His work has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects and the Smithsonian Institute. He has taught cuatromaking to young Puerto Rican artisans under grants originating form the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through various regional arts organizations.

William's guitarmaking webpage here.
William's email here here.

Wilfredo Echevarria is an expert in media communications, who has directed numerous important projects for the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project, including the video documentary NUESTRO CUATRO, Volumes 1 and 2, and a series of short features. 
Wilfredo Echevarria was born in Isabela, Puerto Rico. His family came to New York in 1952. He joined William Cumpiano and Juan Sotomayor in the summer of 1994 to help produce the first Puerto Rican Cuatro Festival at the Children’s Museum in Holyoke, Massachusetts. That event was the beginning of what became a tradition of festivals throughout the United State and Puerto Rico. 
    Echevarria began working in media while still attending SUNY/Buffalo as a student. He hosted several radio programs at the university’s public radio station. While in Buffalo he also co-founded a Latino community newspaper, hosted a public affairs program on the ABC affiliate, worked as a production technician at the public television station, co-founded directed a children’s puppet and theater company and was a partner in starting a graphics arts business. Echevarria was teaching video workshops in a city run program when he was offered a position as assistant community affairs director for the NBC affiliate in Hartford, CT. There he produced three weekly shows, a monthly new documentary (winner of the 1984 IRIS award for best documentary) and public service announcements.
     Echevarria moved to Springfield, Massachusetts and Springfield public television. There he produced and co-hosted a series live programs from the city’s different ethnic neighborhoods. He also produced a weekly political roundtable discussion program with a journalist, produced and hosted political election coverage and a series of television documentaries, winning a second Emmy nomination for a documentary on the Tuskegee Airmen. Echevarria also worked with the Springfield Museum Association in the design of their new television studio and headed the committee to set-up the museum’s cable channel.
      Currently Echevarria produces video for computer- based training courses and other media and web related materials for the University of Connecticut School of Social work.

You can communicate with Wilfredo Echevarria here. 

Project members and associates

David Morales

is a foremost expert in the field of vintage jíbaro music recordings, and owner of one of the largest--if not the largest--private collections of early and modern recordings of traditional Puerto Rican music. His seminal research on the lives and work of some of Puerto Rico's most admired traditional singers includes an important work on the history and career of the great poet-singer Chuíto el de Cayey--until that point, a life shrouded in mystery and destined for oblivion-- which was published in the annual journal, La Canción Popular. 
      Morales and his family moved to Lynn from Puerto Rico at a young age, speaking no English. Going through the Lynn experience, David graduated honorably from LCHS and went on to Bowdoin College.From his success at Bowdoin , he became a Budget Analyst for the Ways and Means Committee in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 2001, Mr. Morales was appointed as Executive Director of the new Massachusetts Prescription Drug Insurance Plan.In 2003, he accepted the position as Senior Advisor the the President of the Massachusetts Senate. Early in 2009, Mr. Morales was hired by new Governor Patrick to become a Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning and Policy. In 2010 he was appointed by Governor Patrick to be Commissioner of Health Care Finance for the state of Massachusetts.

David is deeply involved with the Puerto Rican community, being past president of El Jogorio de Massachusetts, a Boston non-profit agency which trains young Latinos to become leaders, the Bowdoin College Alumni Council, and is an active member of the Golden Fleece Masonic Temple, a service organization. David Morales lives in Lynn, with his wife Samanda and son Anthony.

You can contact David Morales here.



Myriam Fuentes  is an outstanding media specialist, writer, researcher and historian who has been invited to join the Cuatro Project team to assist in the preparation and realization of educational materials for the Project. She directs her own media production company and directed the recent Cuatro Project video documentary titled "The Decima of Borinquen." She is currently working on the organization and editing on the Cuatro Project textbook, "Searching for the Puerto Rican Cuatro" which covers the history and development of the family of traditional stringed instruments of Puerto Rico. You can communicate with Myriam Fuentes here.










Carlos Flores  the polifacetic writer, photographer, historian, cultural promoter and community organizer is also Chicago coordinator for the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project. You can reach Carlos Flores here. The web page, Puerto Rican Chicago features his life and work.









Luis Torres was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He graduated from Central High School and left the island to study for his B.A. at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. After three years of military service, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where he earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. in modern European history, with a specialty in the history of Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries.

After several years as a history professor, he accepted a position in Washington, D.C. with the National Geographic Society. He filled various posts at the society. His last position before retirement was as regional editor for the U.S. Southwest and Mexico on the staff of National Geographic TRAVELER magazine.

In retirement, he moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he continued working as a freelance writer and editor. Torres has carried out several oral history projects under contract with the National Park Service and has written two books about San Antonio’s Spanish colonial missions, one about the history of the missions and the other an oral history of the missions.

Torres states that “as a project of his old age” he began studying the cuatro. With several friends, he organized ECOS DE PUERTO RICO, a cuatro orchestra, which he directs. ECOS has achieved great success in San Antonio and the southern region of Texas.

To contact Torres by e-mail, use
txkokopell@aol.com or

Project coordinator William Cumpiano is a full time guitar-making artisan and author of the widely-used guitarmaking textbook, GUITARMAKING

William Cumpiano measures an Early Cuatro in a collection (1996)













Wilfredo Echevarría is an award-winning producer of educational programming on television and a director of video documentaries, including thos summarizing the findings of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project.



























Cultural researcher David Morales (right) examines the personal collection of old 78 rpm records of the legendary bolero singer and guitarist Efraín Berrios, during a visit to his home in Carolina PR.





























Myriam Fuentes is often asked to organize, edit and realize educational materials for the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project.










Carlos Flores, Chicago coordinator for the Cuatro Project





Luis Torres has joined the Cuatro Project work staff as consulting editor


Support personnel


Néstor Hérnandez, professor University of Puerto Rico
Gustavo Batista, professor University of Puerto Rico
Nestor Murray Irizarry, Folkloric researcher, lecturer

Graciela Quiñones Rodriguez, instrument maker
Roberto Rivera, microbiologist, cuatro-maker, cuatrista
Benjamin Lapidus, ethnomusicologist, tresista
Ramón Gómez, architect and musician


Participating Consultants

The following have shared their time and stories to make the Cuatro Project knowledge base grow.

Joaquín Rivera Family
Norberto Cales Family
Maso Rivera (deceased)
Yomo Toro
Pedro Guzmán
Efraín Ronda (deceased)
Edwin Colón Zayas
Emma Colón Zayas
Nieves Quintero
Modesto Nieves
Sarraíl Archilla
Elba Lugo
Gladys Jiménez
José González
Alvin Medina
Roque Navarro (deceased)
Ismael Santiago
Tulio Kercadó
Neri Orta
Jim Pérez
Nicanor Zayas
José Pérez
Totín Vale
Tito Báez (deceased)
Millito Cruz
Tuto Feliciano
Tony Rivera
Paco Marrero
Pancho Cintrón
Pedro Guerrero
Paul Kaplan US
Bob Zentz US



Rosendo Acosta Family
Familia Franquiz descendientes]
Miguel Méndez
Eugenio Méndez (deceased)
Miguel Acevedo
Antonio Rodríguez Navarro
Julio Negrón
Jorge Santiago Mendoza
Jaime Alicea
Efraín Ronda (deceased)
Juan Reyes Torres
José Reyes (deceased)
José Pérez
Eleuterio Quiñones
Epifanio Valentin
Vicente Valentín
Cristobal Santiago
Heriberto Rivera
Felix Haddock
Fidencio Díaz

José Rivera, MA,
Tito Báez, NY (deceased)
Natividad Tirado, DE
Andrea Restivo, NJ
Marcos Matías, NJ
Diómedes Matos, NJ
Vicente Esteves, NJ

Roberto Rivera, NJ

Roberto Márquez
Francisco Lluch
Jose Manuel Dufrasne
Ratito Prieti
Marcelino Canino
Ricardo Alegría
Mario Ramos
Phil Skyler
Walter Murray Chiesa
Ted Solis
Héctor Vega Druet
Cristóbal Diaz Ayala
Gustavo Batista
Juan Carlos Montalvo
Amilcar Tirado, film maker (deceased)
E. Cruz Andino
Edgardo Delgado Figueroa
Michael Kasha
Pedro Malavet Vega
Henry Geddes