MIAMI, United States. – This Sunday, May 14, the renowned Cuban composer and conductor Tania León celebrates her 80th birthday with a career that has left its mark on the contemporary music scene. León is widely respected for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations, and she has been the subject of numerous profiles in international media.
In July 2022, was awarded with the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, alongside George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight and U2. In 2023, she received the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Award in Music Composition from Northwestern University. In addition, she was appointed Composer-in-Residence of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for two seasons beginning in September 2023 and she will hold the Richard and Barbara Debs Chair of Composers at Carnegie Hall for the 2023-2024 season.
his orchestral work stridecommissioned by the New York Philharmonic to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2021. Among its recent premieres are Be for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tickets for the Arkansas Symphony and the Detroit Symphony, and rhythmic for the Grossman Ensemble at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition.
León has collaborated with renowned poets, writers, and directors such as John Ashbery, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Wendy Kesselman, Jamaica Kincaid, Mark Lamos, Fae Myenne Ng, Julie Taymor, Derek Walcott, and Robert Wilson. Highlights of his career include a Portrait of a Composer at Columbia University’s Miller Theater in New York and his opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with design and direction by Robert Wilson, which won the coveted BMW Award.
Likewise, the Cuban artist has been guest conductor of prestigious international orchestras, including the Marseille Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, the Beethovenhalle Orchestra, the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, the Asturias Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, the Orquesta de la of Sadler’s Wells, the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra and the El Salvador Symphony Orchestra, among others.
In 1969, León was a founding member and first Music Director of the Dance Theater of Harlem, establishing the institution’s Music Department, School of Music, and Orchestra. In addition, she founded the Composers Now festival in 2010, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower living composers and celebrate the diversity of their voices.
She has taught at various universities and has received honorary doctorates from Colgate University, Oberlin, SUNY Purchase College, and The Curtis Institute of Music. Since 1985, she has taught at Brooklyn College and at The Graduate Center, CUNY, where she was named the Claire and Leonard Tow Professor in Music in 2000, City University of New York Distinguished Professor in 2006, and Professor Emeritus in September 2019. .
León currently serves as the Honorary President of the Songwriters and Composers Wing of the Recording Academy and is a member of the Boards of Directors of the New York Philharmonic and The ASCAP Foundation.
In 2023, the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library acquired Tania León’s archive, further cementing her legacy as an influential figure in the contemporary music scene. With such a prolific and award-winning career, Tania León continues to be a vital personality in music today, and her birthday provides an opportunity to celebrate and honor her many achievements and contributions to the art world.