Tania Leon
Composer & Conductor
This award was generously supported by
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Tania León is a highly regarded composer, conductor, and educator. León’s recent commissions include Little Rock Nine, an opera with libretto by Thulani Davis and historical research by Henry Louis Gates Jr., and new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and International Contemporary Ensemble. Her appearances as guest conductor include the Symphony Orchestra of Marseille, the Gewandhausorchester Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba. León is a founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, co-founded the American Composers Orchestra Sonidos de las Americas Festivals, and instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series. She was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic, and is the founder and Artistic Director of Composers Now.

Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement, the ASCAP Victor Herbert Awards, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2017, she received a proclamation from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for Composers Now. León received Honorary Doctorate degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin, and SUNY Purchase Colleges. She served as the US Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. She has been a professor at Brooklyn College since 1985, and was named a Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006.
Photo Courtesy of Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Tania León conducting at Ojai Festival with International Contemporary Ensemble and Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of LA Philharmonic.