October 5, 2018

The acclaimed conductor, composer, and educator has a new accolade to add to her growing list.


Distinguished Professor Tania León (GC/Brooklyn, Music), an acclaimed conductor, composer, and educator, has a new accolade to add to her growing list. Today, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she is being inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. León is the only member of The City University of New York faculty to be elected to the Academy in 2018.

One of the oldest learned societies in the U.S., the Academy honors exceptional scholars, leaders, artists, and innovators. Its members include more than 200 Nobel Prize laureates and 100 Pulitzer Prize winners.

A Cuban émigré, León has played an active role to introduce Latin American music works to American audiences. Her composition style, which is influenced by gospel and jazz, has been called utterly distinctive.

She was a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969 and served as its first musical director. From 1993 to 1997 she was the new music advisor to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic.

She received the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement award, and last year New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a proclamation in honor of her Composers Now organization. Earlier this year, León was named a United States Artists fellow.

Last September, The New York Times covered the preview of her opera Little Rock Nine, which is based on the experiences of the African-American students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

León joins the Academy’s Visual Arts and Performing Arts – Criticism and Practice category, along with the actor Tom Hanks, Glimmerglass Festival General Director Francesca Zambello, and other distinguished artists and scholars.