Tania León (b. Havana, Cuba), a vital personality on today's music scene, in demand as composer and conductor, has been recognized for her significant accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations.
Duende, for Baritone, Bata drums and Percussion premiered September 2003 at the Fest der Kontinente in Berlin, Germany. Commissioned by the Fest in honor of Gyorgy Ligeti s 80th birthday.
León's opera Scourge of Hyacinths, staged and designed by Robert Wilson with León conducting, has received 22 performances in Germany, Switzerland, France and Mexico. Based on a radio play by Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka it was commissioned in 1994 by the Munich Biennale, where it won the BMW Prize as best new opera. The aria "Oh Yemanja" from Scourge was recorded by Dawn Upshaw on her Nonesuch CD "The World So Wide".
In Spring 2005, León joined forces again with Wole Soyinka to create a new work for the inauguration of the Shaw Center for the Performing Arts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Virginia Arts Festival has invited León to serve as composer in residence for the first annual John Duffy Composers Institute.
León's orchestral work Desde... (2001) was premiered by the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. Horizons (1999) commissioned and premiered by the NDR Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg. Subsequent performances at the 2000 Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival and Nancy Symphony, France, 2002. Drummin' , a full-length cross-cultural work for indigenous percussionists and orchestra, commissioned and premiered in 1997 by Miami Light Project and the New World Symphony opened the 1999 Hammoniale Festival, Hamburg.
Her music is available on Nonesuch, Teldec, CRI, Albany, Quindecim, Newport Classic, Leonarda, Mode and First Edition Records.
She was awarded the 1998 New York Governor s Lifetime Achievement Award and held the Fromm Residency at the American Academy in Rome. She has received Honorary Doctorates from Colgate University and Oberlin College and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, NYSCA, Lila Wallace/Reader s Digest Fund, ASCAP and Koussevitzky Foundation, among others.
León, founding member and first Music Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem established their Music Department, Music School and Orchestra. She instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series in 1978. In 1994 she co-founded the American Composers Orchestra Sonidos de las Americas Festivals. She served as New Music Advisor to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic (1993-97).
She has been guest conductor with the Madrid Symphony, Gewandhausorchester, Leipzig, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Rome, Marseille Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa, Johannesburg, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, and New York Philharmonic, among others.
Tania León has been the subject of profiles on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision and independent films.
León was Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University, Visiting Professor at Yale University and the Musikschule in Hamburg. In 2000 she was named the Tow Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College, where she has taught since 1985.
Click here to listen to Yemanja (Mother's Prayer) from Hyacinths by Tania León .