Tania León (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer and conductor and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been profiled on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo, and independent films.
León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with staging and design by Robert Wilson, received over 20 performances throughout Europe and Mexico. Commissioned by Hans Werner Henze and the city of Munich for the Fourth Munich Biennale, it took home the coveted BMW Prize. The aria Oh Yemanja (“Mother’s Prayer”) was recorded by Dawn Upshaw on her Nonesuch CD, “The World So Wide.”
Commissions include works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt Quartet, Nestor Torres, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Koussevitzky Foundation, Fest der Kontinente (Hamburg, Germany), Cincinnati Symphony, National Endowment for the Arts, NDR Sinfonie Orchester, American Composers Orchestra, The Library of Congress, Ensemble Modern, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, and International Contemporary Ensemble, among others. Recent commissions include: the score for the opera, The Little Rock Nine, with a libretto by Thulani Davis, and historical research by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas’s College of Fine Arts and Communication.
A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festivals with the American Composers Orchestra, and served as Latin American Advisor to the American Composers Orchestra and New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic. She is the founder and artistic director of Composers Now Festival and the Composers Now organization, a nonprofit in New York City founded in 2010 and dedicated to empowering all living composers, while celebrating the diversity of their voices and honoring the significance of their contributions to the cultural fabric of society. In 2017, a proclamation was presented to Tania Leon and Composers Now on behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio in recognition of their contributions on behalf of living composers.
Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Symphony Space’s Access to the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Fromm, Koussevitzky, and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2012 she received both a Grammy nomination (for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”) and a Latin Grammy nomination (for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition”) and in 2013 she was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award. Most recently she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.