BC Professor León Adds to Her International Credentials

December 18, 2007 | Brooklyn College

Tania León, director of music composition at Brooklyn College and the Claire and Leonard Tow Distinguished Professor, has been invited to be a U.S. Artistic Ambassador for the United States Embassy in Madrid. In addition, her composition, Horizons, has been chosen for performance by the artistic committee for the 2008 Beijing International Congress on Women in Music.

León, a highly regarded and accomplished composer, has worked at Brooklyn College since 1985.

The embassy officials have asked Leon to serve as the keynote speaker for their Black History Month program in March. In her role with the embassy, León will participate in a program at the Museum of the Americas and will speak at many venues throughout the city, including a conservatory, a high school, and a university. As an Ambassador of American Culture, she will provide Spanish audiences, particularly Spanish youth, the opportunity to learn more abut the culture of the United States through her music and personal experiences.

At the Beijing Congress, León’s piece, Horizons, will be part of the opening concert in April in the Grand Concert Hall of the China Conservatory of Music.

Born in Havana, Cuba, León received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University. Since then, she has emerged as an international figure in the music world, carving a niche for herself in contemporary music as a composer, conductor, and music director.

León has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, and the Musikschule in Hamburg. She was a founding member and the first music director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and established their music department, music school, and orchestra. In 1978 León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series; in 1994 she cofounded the American Composers Orchestra Sonidos de las Americas Festivals. From 1993 to 1997 she served as new music adviser to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic. She also collaborated with Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka on her award-winning opera Scourge of Hyacinths.

Her work has been widely recognized. León received the 2005 American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Award, which is based upon the unique value of each writer’s catalog of original compositions as well as recent performances of those works. She has also received awards for her compositions from Chamber Music America, Cintas, Meet the Composer, and Women of Hope, and holds honorary doctorates from Colgate University and Oberlin College. She has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Copland Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fund, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

León has been guest conductor with the Madrid Symphony; Gewandhaus Orchester, Leipzig; Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Rome; Marseille Symphony; National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa, Johannesburg; Netherlands Wind Ensemble; and New York Philharmonic, among others.