The Mizzou New Music Initiative is pleased to welcome Kennedy Center Honors recipient and Pulitzer Prize winner Tania León as a Guest Composer for the 2023 Mizzou International Composers Festival. As part of MICF, she will present her music and work closely with the resident composers through private lessons and a workshop.
León’s music will also be featured in two concerts. On Thursday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Missouri Theatre, Alarm Will Sound will perform a new arrangement of Tania Leon’s Toque, which John Orfe arranged to become Gran Toque.
For the second concert, the Mizzou New Music Ensemble will perform León’s One Mo’ Time, along with music by Marcos Balter, Kevin Day, and Santiago Beis on Friday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Sheryl Crow Hall.
“It is wonderful to have the opportunity to welcome a composer of such renown as Tania León to Columbia,” said Stefan Freund, Artistic Director of the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “A highlight of the MICF is sure to be the world premiere of Gran Toque, which was arranged by John Orfe. Alarm Will Sound will be working on this piece with the composer and arranger in preparation for a performance at Carnegie Hall in March.”
About the piece, Orfe wrote, “León’s original combines aspects of flute-and-strings charanga with brass-and-winds típica ensemble traditionally associated with Cuba’s national dance, the danzón; the arrangement Gran Toque magnifies this hybridity with all its concomitant visceral and rhetorical force.”
León is not only a composer, but also a conductor, educator, and advisor to arts organizations.
Recent premieres include works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Grossman Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Modern Ensemble, Jennifer Koh’s project Alone Together, and The Curtis Institute. Appearances as guest conductor include Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille, Gewandhausorchester, Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuba, among others. Upcoming commissions feature a work for the League of American Orchestras, and a work for Claire Chase, flute, and The Crossing Choir with text by Rita Dove.
Among her many accomplishments, León was a founding member and first Music Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem and also co-founded the American Composers Orchestra’s Sonidos de las Américas Festivals. She was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic, and is the founder/Artistic Director of Composers Now, a presenting, commissioning, and advocacy organization for living composers.
As a guest conductor, she has appeared with Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille, Gewandhausorchester, Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuba, among others. Among her upcoming commissions include a work for the League of American Orchestras, as well as a work for Claire Chase, flute, and The Crossing Choir with text by Rita Dove.
León was named a recipient of the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements in July 2022, alongside George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, and U2. This year, she was awarded the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition from Northwestern University.
Her many other honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement, inductions into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Most recently, León became the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s next Composer-in-Residence—a post she will hold for two seasons, beginning in September 2023. She will also hold Carnegie Hall’s Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for its 2023-2024 season.
Earlier this year, Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired her archive.