Tania Leon, composer and conductor
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Tania Leon, Composer and Conductor, Press and Media  


Tania León conducting the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra in July 2015
(photo by Nantapipat Vutthisak and Natthapong Sirisit)

Tania León: A Celebration of Diversity in Composing and Life (International Musician)
"The music of North America would be vastly different if not for the richness brought from other cultures. That's one reason why the career of Tania León is so remarkable. If she had not bravely come to the US on a 1967 "Freedom Flight" from Cuba, she would not have gifted New York City and the country with her talents and influence, inspiring generations of artists." Read the entire piece

Review: Tania León's Ser at the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Los Angeles Times, Rick Schulz)
"After intermission came Ser. León's finely crafted and bird-sound-haunted piece engaged the coloristic resources of the L.A. Phil to lovely effect. Especially memorable were the chirping clarinet and fluttering flute figures, set off by zesty writing for the brasses. Heyward led the orchestra with delicacy and mature skill, lending León's ethereal 10-minute piece a shapely character." Read the entire review

Interview: Tania León talks with Ann Nicholson, host of Arts Scene, on KUAR, UA Little Rock's NPR affiliate. Listen as Tania discusses the Little Rock Nine opera, and the 60th anniversary commemoration of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High, which began on 24 September. Listen to the interview on KUAR's site.

Interview: Talk Music Talk with boice, episode 116, features an hour-long interview with Tania León by boice-Terrel Allen. Listen to the interview on SoundCloud.

At a Moment of Racial Tumult, the Little Rock Nine Inspire an Opera (Michael Cooper, The New York Times, October 1, 2017): "It was 60 years to the day since Minnijean Brown Trickey and eight other African-American teenagers integrated Little Rock Central High School at bayonet-point, protected by the 101st Airborne Division from racist mobs and a defiant governor. On Monday evening, after a day of commemorations, Ms. Brown Trickey sat in an auditorium at the University of Central Arkansas to hear how her life &emdash; and the more-than-timely story of the Little Rock Nine &emdash; was being transformed into a new opera..." Read the entire article: nytimes.com/2017/10/01/arts/music/little-rock-nine-opera-tania-leon.html

September 25, 2017: Carmen Pelaez of NBC News' Latino division sat down with Tania León to talk about her hopes that Little Rock Nine will foster important dialogue. Read the entire interview: nbcnews.com/news/latino/little-rock-nine-composer-tania-le-n-hopes-opera-fosters-n803931

A glimpse of the Little Rock Nine opera at UCA (Stephanie Smittle, Arkansas Times, September 25, 2017): "Composer Tania Le&ocaute;n and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. spoke last night to an enthusiastic and plentiful crowd at University of Central Arkansas's Reynolds Performance Hall last night, preceding the performance of four excerpts from León's in-progress opera "Little Rock Nine," with a libretto by scholar and playwright Thulani Davis. Vocalists Kendra Thomas, Ronald Jensen-McDaniel, Candice Harris and Nisheedah Dévré Golden, equipped with coaching from León before the event, performed arias from Act I of the in-progress opera, with Paul Dickinson at the piano. Read the entire article: arktimes.com/RockCandy/archives/2017/09/26/a-glimpse-of-the-little-rock-nine-opera-at-uca

Tania León is featured in a segment on the March 16 installment of Nueva York, the Emmy Award-winning series about Latino culture in New York. The 30-minute show explores the rich textures of Latino society in the city, focusing on politics, art, culture, and the traditions of Spanish-speaking populations across the metropolitan area. The program will be rebroadcast on March 18, March 23, and March 25. For air times and more information, visit Nueva York's website. Or, you can watch the entire episode here (segment begins at 15:26):

Tania León included in WFMT's 10 Composers Changing Contemporary Classical Music (Who Also Happen to Be Women), by Stephen Raskauskas. Read the article.

Interview: Ruth E. Hernández Beltrán interviewed Tania León for the Spanish-language publication, La Vanguardia. Read the entire interview.

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs reported that they were proud to proclaim February 1st as "Composers Now Festival Day" on behalf of Mayor Bill de Blasio. Presented to Artistic Director Tania J. León of Composers Now by NYCulture Assistant Commissioner Kathi Hughes, the proclamation said, in part: "Whereas: In a city of 8.5 million people, many of whom hail from around the world, our arts scene is as diverse as our residents. We are tremendously proud of the many different global traditions and heritages that have helped to shape our cultural landscape, and my administration is determined to provide people of all backgrounds with the opportunity to participate in our dynamic arts communities. With a mission to empower all living composers and honor their incredible work, Composers Now is an important ally in these efforts." A photo of León accepting the honor at the 2017 Festival Opening Event can be seen below, and on the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs' Facebook page.

Interview: Philip Klint of Spectrum News NY1, the 24/7 Spanish-language news channel in New York, interviewed Tania León (Reinforcing the Musical Link Between Cuba and the United States).

Composer/conductor Tania León has been included in Bachtrack's Top Ten Living Women Composers, written by New York music journalist Rebecca Lentje. Read the article on Bachtrack

William Robin of The New York Times included Tania León in his feature, Women Are Making Opera. And It's Not Easy, published on December 14, 2016. Along with León, highlighted were the careers of such prominent composers as Olga Neuwirth, Unsuk Chin, Meredith Monk, and Jennifer Higdon. The section on León includes an audio clip of "Oh Yemanja" from her opera Scourge of Hyacinths.

The New York Times spotlights Tania León's return to Cuba in November to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba in a performance of one of her works. As Michael Cooper writes in The New York Times, "For the first time since she left for the United States nearly 50 years ago, the composer and conductor...will perform in her native Cuba later this month, conducting the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba in a program featuring one of her own works." Read the entire piece.

Tania León Co-Commission with ICE - World Premiere at 2016 Ojai Festival: The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced a residency with Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) that will culminate in a world premiere of a Tania León co-commission, entitled Pa'lante, which she will conduct at the 2016 Ojai Music Festival on June 12. Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, Music and Artistic Director and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Pa'lante suits the interests and abilities of both the budding young musicians of the YOLA at HOLA Symphonic Winds ensemble, and the seasoned professionals in ICE. The concert will be at the Libbey Bowl in Ojai, on Sunday, June 12, from 1-2pm, and is free (reservations required). More information: ojaifestival.org/festivals/2016-festival/2016-festival-schedule/#sunday

Composers Now launches Dialogues series: Hosted by Tania León, Dialogues is a series of inspiring performances, thought provoking conversations, and stimulating exchanges of ideas between composers, performers and audiences. Occurring in each borough, Dialogues offers five events that will focus on a different theme each year. The theme for this inaugural year is "The impact of the arts in our society." The first Dialogues will take place on September 25 at the Dwyer Cultural Center. Featured composers and performers include Marcos Balter, composer; Ryan Muncy, saxophone; Eric Chasalow, composer; Miranda Cuckson, violin; Valerie Coleman, composer/performer; and Rahzel, composer/beatboxer. Serving as a catalyst for the conversation are composers Elizabeth Hoffman, John Kaefer and Nkeiru Okoye, members of the Composers Now Board of Advisors and Distinguished Mentors Council. For more information.. Visit the Composers Now website

MAP Fund awards grant for Little Rock Nine: The Multi-Arts Production Fund (MAP Fund) has awarded the University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and Communication a grant to support Little Rock Nine, an opera composed by Tania León with libretto by Henry Louis Gates Jr. The Little Rock Crisis of 1957 was "the most severe test of the Constitution since the Civil War," with nine black children seeking equal education at its center. The opera promises to "give voice to those who were mostly seen through grainy newsreels," and asks "[what will] win out: betrayal or courage, rage or principle, hate or the dignity of rising by learning?" See www.mapfund.org/grant_876.html for more information.

Interview: NPR's Latino USA 17 April episode features an interview of Tania León by Alejandro L. Madrid, Associate Professor in the Department of Music at Cornell University. Latino USA's website

Interview: Artist Spotlight: Tania León, Theresa A. Byrne, Contributing Writer to The Harvard Crimson, April 21, 2015

Interview: "5 Questions to Tania León" with Arlene & Larry Dunn of the blog I Care If You Listen

Lawrence Budman of South Florida Classical Review, on del Caribe, soy, March 30, 2014:
"The most compelling and original of the new scores was Tania León's del Caribe, soy. A well-traveled symphonic conductor, teacher and founding music director of the Dance Theater of Harlem, León has fashioned a riveting vignette that mixes bird calls and whistles, fragments of Latin melodies, atonal piano effects and high, off-balance flute writing of the 1960s avant garde variety. León's misty portrait of the Caribbean sky, breeze and ocean is a terrific addition to the flute repertoire. Torres coped manfully with the score's extended technical requirements and León was a commanding presence at the piano."
Click here to read the complete review

Mark Eden Horowitz of The Sondheim Review, on going...gone, December 1, 2012:
"Leon's piece evolved organically and in unexpected ways...The resulting work is a haunting mosaic."
Click here to read the complete review

David DeBoor Canfield of Fanfare Magazine on the CDs In Motion and Singin' Sepia:
"Warning! There is an allure in the music of Tania León that immediately grips the listener, and demands his undivided attention, drawing him into her distinctive world. This is not background music that can be listened to with one ear while the other is focused on something else. Although one might perceive influences from Harry Partch, John Cage, Peter Sculthorpe, Hans Werner Henze, and any number of the other innovative composers of our time, the artistic voice of León is utterly distinctive, and once one has listened to her music for any length of time, it will not be mistaken as the work of any other composer... Inura...is an utterly captivating work from beginning to end...

"Singin' Sepia...includes most innovative figurations that are impossible to describe in words...León's setting spans the gamut from dramatic intensity to quiet resignation, from atonal lyricism to pointillism...Her virtuosic writing doesn't end here, but continues most dramatically in Axon, for violin and interactive computer. The title comes from the filaments in neurons that carry impulses through the nervous system...one of the most dramatic and exciting works I've ever heard for my favorite instrument. Mind you, as all of León's work, this is not music for the timid, or I should say, for those whose ears have not been stretched and tuned to the most advanced music of our era.

"The Bridge CD closes with an orchestral work, Horizons. The complexities found in all of the previous pieces on this CD reach their zenith here. It's in the same league in that respect as Akira Miyoshi's Concerto for Orchestra (one of my "desert island" pieces). Peter Ruzicka and the NDR Symphony Orchestra effect a triumph here that must be heard to be believed...Tania León is one of the most innovative composers of our time. The rewards attending both of these discs will be ample indeed, and I am delighted to give them a very high recommendation." — David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare Magazine

Tania León's CD, SINGIN' SEPIA, is reviewed in The Journal of the Society for American Music (Vol. 4, No. 4): "The journey that inspired Horizons helped to shape a humanistic philosophy that informs all of León's compositions, in which there are no demarcations of gender or race, and where the contributions of individuals transcend geographical and social boundaries. Her background and environment directly affect her compositional process, and the source-sounds inform and permeate her music without overshadowing its complexity. This unique approach is clearly illustrated by the works presented on Singin' Sepia, a recording that should be of equal interest to those new to León's music and to those who know it well." — James Spinazzola
Click here to order the complete review

New York Times Review of Singin' Sepia at Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music

Boston Globe Review of  Singin' Sepia at Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music

New York Times Review of the ballet Inura performed by Dance Brazil

Speaking of Music: Tania León — Recorded on September 19, 1985 as part of the San Francisco Exploratorium's Speaking of music series.  This audio is part of the collection, Other Minds Archive, released in 2009.

New York Times Review of Alma by Da Capo Chamber Players

Public Radio's Performance Today — Listen to Ácana performed by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Paisanos Semos performed by guitarist Ana Maria Rosado.

New York Times Review of Ácana performed by Orpheus: An Ensemble Finds Unity With a Seasoned Soprano

Listen to the broadcast of New York Premiere of Ácana and interview with composer and host, John Schaefer on WNYC-FM.

Chicago Sun Times Review: Sinfonietta concert honors women

New York Times Review of Singin' Sepia performance

Midwest Airlines feature: "Passing the Baton" — Female conductors are stepping up to the nation's podiums in greater numbers than ever before


An Evening of Music and Dialogue
Tania León — Women in Music Festival
Video highlights of world premiere of Atwood Songs
Interview with Tania León


Tania León receives Guggenheim Fellowship Award 2007 in Music Composition

New York Times Music Review: Earthy Cuban Sounds, Rendered With an Urban Complexity

New York Times review of Tania León Portrait Concert at Columbia University's Miller Theatre

Feature article in Yamaha's "Accent" magazine

Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement
This bilingual photography exhibition explores the diversity of the Latino experience in the United States through narratives and portraits of Hispanic men and women who have led extraordinary lives in various fields. Our Journeys/Our Stories premiered at the National Museum of American History in February of 2004 and is now traveling throughout the United States. The exhibition is complemented by education outreach materials, and host venues are encouraged to involve their local communities in public programming and educational activities. The exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund. For information contact the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) at 202.633.3110.

"Miss Oppens also played Tania León's Kabiosile for Piano and Orchestra. It is a piece made strong by underlying Latin dance rhythms and by a rhapsodic piano part that, as Miss León nicely describes it, leaps "like the flames of a fire, with ever-changing shapes of constant heat."
Bernard Holland, The New York Times


Podcasts & Concerts

Works by Tania León on Symphony Space Live: www.symphonyspace.org/live/leon
In this concert, León's compositions and other works are performed by pianist Ursula Oppens and Jade Simmons, as well as the Brasil Guitar Duo. Included works: Ritual, Mistica, Bailarin, Paisanos Semos, Tumbáo, and Satiné


Works on YouTube

Tania León talks about composing Scourge of Hyacinths with inspiration from her childhood. (for CareerGirls.org)

Tania León: "What I Do" (for CareerGirls.org)

'In Motion' - Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble and DanceBrazil Percussion performing Inura; and Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble and Rajoe Darby (narrator) performing Haiku.

Rimas Tropicales

Meridian Arts Ensemble performing Saoko in Timosoara, Romania.

Brief composer portrait of Tania León, filmed by Jeremy Robins for the American Composers Orchestra, at the time of the premiere of Indígena.

Jade Simmons performs Momentum at Harlem Stage's The Gatehouse (PeerMusic)

Jade Simmons performs Rituál at Harlem Stage's The Gatehouse (PeerMusic)

Pianist Adam Kent performing composer Mistica at Saint Peter's Church, Manhattan. (Iroko Music)

Jade Simmons performs Tumbao at Harlem Stage's The Gatehouse (Boosey & Hawkes)



The Sensual Nature of Sound
4 Composers: Laurie Anderson, Tania León, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros
58 minutes, color
Narrated by the composers
Michael Blackwood Productions, Inc.

"The Sensual Nature of Sound" portrays these New York based composer/performers in terms of their musical lives. Although all four women are pioneers in American music, each composer pursues a distinct direction of her own. Since the early 1980s, Laurie Anderson has used music and performance as the foundation for her multi-media stage shows which have since become her trademark. Cuban born Tania Leon composes orchestral music that is an intricate weave of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz elements embedded within a classical Western concerto format. Meredith Monk experiments with new ideas in music theater and has developed a genre of opera very much her own. Pauline Oliveros draws upon the rich resources of ritual, myth, meditation, and improvisation to create a body of work that is truly visionary. Filmed at rehearsals and performances in the United States and abroad, "The Sensual Nature of Sound" examines the contributions of these diverse composers to contemporary American music.


Composers and their Compositions
Volume One, Ten episodes
Gunther Schuller, Ned Rorem, Fred Lerdahl, Tania León, George Crumb
Conceived, directed and produced by Thomas J. Knott
Dan Hnatio, Director of Photography
Contact: Active Communications