Artist© Gail Hadani
Tania Justina León is a Cuban-born American composer, conductor and music pedagogue whose confidently idiosyncratic music, incorporating multiple traditions, has made music history. Born in La Havana in 1943, she attended the Conservatorio Carlos Alfredo Peyrellade and the National Conservatory in her hometown before emigrating to the USA in 1967 and continuing her education at New York University. In 1969 she co-founded the Dance Theater of Harlem with Arthur Mitchell, serving as its music director until 1978 and creating ballets such as ›Tones‹ (1973), ›Dougla‹ (with Geoffrey Holder, 1974) and ›Spiritual Suite‹ (with Marian Anderson, 1976) for it.
Since the 1970s she has appeared as a conductor at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto (1971) and the Nervi Festival in Genoa (1972), with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, the Orquesta de la Comunidad y Coro de Madrid, the Orchestra de Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the National Symphony of South Africa, the Louisville Orchestra and the New World Symphony.
Starting in 1985, Tania León taught at Brooklyn College. She has also given master classes at the Hamburg Academy of Music, at Yale University, Harvard University, at Yaddo and the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1978, she founded the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series; in 1994 she was involved in founding the American Composers Orchestra’s ›Sonidos de las Americas‹ festival as an advisor on Latin American music. From 1993 to 1997, she was also an advisor on new music to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since 2006, Tania León has been a Distinguished Professor at City University of New York. In 2010, she founded the New York-based festival of contemporary music ›Composers Now‹ and was appointed a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2018 also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For her work ›Stride‹, she received the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In 2022, she was distinguished at the Kennedy Center Honors