Professor Tania León in the 'Times' for Opera Inspired by Little Rock Nine

Professor Tania Leon, Graduate Center, CUNY
Professor León stands in front of Little Rock Central High School. She is writing an opera about the nine students who integrated the school in 1957. Credit Andrea Morales for The New York Times
Professor Tania León (Music) was featured in a New York Times article about her opera-in-progress, inspired by the nine students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
The students, known as the Little Rock Nine, faced mobs of racist protesters as they entered the school, requiring protection by troops of the 101st Airborne Division. León recently met with the eight surviving students at a commemoration event that included a visit to the school.
“It’s important to see them,” León told the Times. “To hear their syntax, to feel their personalities.”
León, a highly acclaimed composer and conductor, was commissioned to write the opera, tentatively titled Little Rock Nine, by the University of Central Arkansas’ College of Fine Arts and Communication. Thulani Davis is writing the libretto and Henry Louis Gates Jr. provided historical research.
León told the Times that she hopes her opera will give viewers a more personal connection to the students behind this historic event of desegregation. “We need a little more compassion, and I hope that in these 60 years we have grown in empathy,” she said.


Submitted on: OCT 4, 2017

Category: Faculty Activities | Music Ph.D. - D.M.A