Tania León, born in Cuba, is highly regarded as a composer and conductor, also recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been profiled for ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo, and independent films.
A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series and co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festival with the American Composers Orchestra. She is founder and artistic director of Composers Now, the New York-based organization she launched to honor living composers of all genres, including the month-long Composers Now Festival that runs every February.
León's opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka was commissioned by Hans Werner Henze for the Munich Biennale, where it won the coveted BMW Prize. Subsequently, it was staged and directed by Robert Wilson in Europe and Latin America Among her recent commissions are Little Rock Nine, an opera based on a significant moment in the history of civil rights, with a libretto by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Pa'lante (for flute, bassoon, saxophone, trombone and the YOLA at HOLA Symphonic Winds ensemble), commissioned by Gustavo Dudamel, Music and Artistic Director, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).
León has collaborated with authors such as John Ashbery, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove and Derek Walcott. Commissions include the Cincinnati Symphony, NDR Sinfonie Orchester, and Ensemble Modern. Her work has also been performed by L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias, Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota, and the China National Symphony, among others. As conductor, León has led the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Marseille, the Gewaundhausorchester, the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra (Mexico), Symphony Orchestra of Johannesburg, (South Africa), and the New York Philharmonic. She has given lectures on four continents and received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin, and SUNY Purchase College. A Professor at Brooklyn College and at CUNY-Graduate Center, she was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006.
Her honors include the New York Governor's Lifetime Achievement, Guggenheim Fellowships, two Grammy nominations, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letter and the prestigious 2013 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award.