We’re thrilled to welcome Cuban-American composer Tania León to succeed Brett Dean as Composer-in-Residence for two seasons from September 2023.
We’ll perform two of Tania’s works in the 2023/24 season: the UK premiere of Horizons on 25 October 2023, and the world premiere of a new work commissioned by the LPO on 6 March 2024. Tania will also help us develop the next generation of music creators by mentoring our LPO Young Composers.
About Tania León
In December 2022 Tania León received a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. In addition, she won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her work Stride (of which we gave the UK premiere on 31 March 2023). She was recently also announced as winner of the 2023 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Tania León arrived in the US from Cuba in 1967, speaking barely any English, as an accomplished pianist who had won three major competitions and earned degrees from the Carlos Alfredo Peyrellade Conservatory. She began studies at the New York College of Music just months later. Her big break came in 1968 when a pianist friend was unwell and she agreed to fill in for her at a ballet class in Harlem. There she impressed ballet dancer and choreographer Arthur Mitchell – the first soloist of colour with the New York City Ballet – and soon became resident composer and music director of Mitchell’s newly formed Dance Theatre of Harlem.
León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series in 1978. From 1993–97 she was New Music Advisor to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic. Between 1994 and 2001 she was Latin American music advisor for the American Composers Orchestra. In 2010 she became the founder and artistic director of Composers Now, an organisation with the mission of empowering living composers and celebrating their diverse voices.
Recent commissions include Anima for Jennifer Koh’s Alone Together; Rítmicas for The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition’s Grossman Ensemble; Ser for the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Pa’lante for the International Contemporary Ensemble and YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles); and Ethos for pianist Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt String Quartet.
León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with staging and design by Robert Wilson, has received over 20 performances throughout Europe and Mexico. Commissioned by Hans Werner Henze and the city of Munich for the Fourth Munich Biennale, it took home the coveted BMW Prize, and the aria ‘Oh Yemanja’ was recorded by Dawn Upshaw on her Nonesuch CD, The World So Wide.
Past commissions include works for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Arts, NDR Symphony Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, New World Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, Fest der Kontinente (Hamburg, Germany), The Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Los Angeles Master Chorale, DanceBrazil, and Dance Theatre of Harlem.