León, Tania

Tania León (b. 1943, Havana): A classical composer and conductor, León became the first musical director and composer in residence with Dance Theater of Harlem in 1968. Since then, her pieces have been performed by some of the world’s top musicians. Scourge of Hyacinths, an opera based on a radio play by Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka, won the BMW Prize as best new work in the 1994 Munich Biennale. One of its arias, Oh Yemanja, was recorded by Dawn Upshaw. Other works include Inura, a composition for voices, strings and piano that was nominated for a Grammy and a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Classical Contemporary Composition; the ballets The Beloved (with Judith Hamilton), Haiku, Dougla (with Geoffrey Holder) and Tones; the orchestra pieces Batá, Carabalí, Concerto Criollo, Kabiosile, Para Viola y Orquesta and Seven Spirituals, as well as many pieces for instrumental ensemble and vocal ensemble and solo. She is a professor of music at Brooklyn College and the recipient of an ASCAP Victor Herbert Award and a Symphony Space Access to the Arts Award. Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, León was a visiting scholar at the Witwatersrand University in South Africa. As a conductor, she has appeared with the Kwazulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, in Durban, and the Johannesburg Academy Orchestra, both in South Africa; the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, in Mexico, and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Bogotá, in Colombia. León is the founder and artistic director of Composers Now, an annual, month-long festival that celebrates living composers, their diversity and the significance of their work. (Cintas for music, 1974-75, 1978-79)

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