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Date(s) - 11/18/2021
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Cornell University - Barnes Hall


Cornell University Department of Music welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León to campus for presentations and a concert Nov. 18-19; additional concerts Nov. 19-21 include piano and jazz performances


Photos available for download here: https://cornell.box.com/s/1vjlk4547s66ipbl7n55ju95s12goqgl


ITHACA, NY – The Cornell Department of Music welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Tania León to campus November 18-19. Born in Havana, Cuba, León is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, educator, and advisor to arts organizations. In 2021, her orchestral work Stride, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music.


The new music collective Ensemble X (Xak Bjerken, Artistic Director) performs on Thursday, November 18 at 8:00 pm in Barnes Hall and will feature León’s Abanico for violin and electronics, as well as wide-ranging recent works by Trichy Sankaran, Christopher Stark, Jeremy Gill, Steven Banks, and David Philip Hefti. Special guest clarinetist Christopher Grymes will also perform two pieces he commissioned. Bjerken has long been an admirer of León’s work and says that “her music has a rhythmic vitality and bold coloristic profile that is immediate and vibrant. Abanico is no exception, a work where the violin plays over and in conjunction with a recorded track percussion instruments — the player gets to be a one-man band!”


On Friday, November 19, León will participate in a special Friday edition of Midday Music at 11:30 am in Lincoln Hall B20. Cornell musicologist Alejandro L. Madrid will facilitate a conversation about León’s life and career apropos the publication of his book Tania León’s Stride: A Polyrhythmic Life. León asked Madrid if he was interested in writing her biography, and Madrid notes they share not only a history of migration from Latin America, but also “a multiethnic and multicultural background and a proclivity to question conventional identity labels.” In writing about a living composer, Madrid says that “my main challenge was to develop a narrative that respected León’s desire to celebrate her legacy while maintaining a critical perspective. Understanding the story-telling process as a counterpoint in which León’s voice was a cantus firmus in constant dialogue with other voices (her colleagues, her relatives, her students, and myself as mediator) allowed me to escape the temptation of simply writing an uncritical hagiography.” Topics for this conversation will include León’s relationship with the New York Philharmonic and the commission of her Pulitzer-winning Stride.


León then joins the Composers’ Forum at 1:30 pm, also on November 19 in Lincoln Hall B20, where she will present recent performances of new works.


León’s recent commissions include works for New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Grossman Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, and pianist Ursula Oppens with Cassatt String Quartet. Appearances as guest conductor include Philharmonic Orchestra of Marseille, Gewandhausorchester, Orquesta Sinfonica de Guanajuato, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuba. Upcoming premieres feature commissions for the NewMusic USA Amplifying Voices Program, The Musical Fund Society in Philadelphia to celebrate their 200th anniversary, and for The Crossing chamber choir with Claire Chase, flutist, among others.


A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the American Composers Orchestra’s Sonidos de las Américas Festivals, was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic, and is the founder/Artistic Director of the nonprofit and festival Composers Now.


In addition to the Pulitzer, her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement, awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the ASCAP Victor Herbert Award, among others.


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