Tania León is a member of the Board of Directors of MacDowell and is highly regarded as a composer and conductor, and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. Her first opera, Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with staging and design by Robert Wilson, received more than 20 performances in France, Switzerland, Austria, and Mexico. A longtime resident of New York, she has played important roles at its institutions, such as the Dance Theater of Harlem, Brooklyn Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, where she served as new music advisor. León is the founder and artistic director of Composers Now, a nonprofit in New York City that celebrates the diversity of composers in the city and honors their contributions to the cultural fabric of society. A professor at Brooklyn College since 1985 and the Graduate Center of CUNY, she was named distinguished professor of the City University of New York in 2006.
Recent commissions include the score for the opera, The Little Rock Nine, with a libretto by Thulani Davis, and historical research by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas's College of Fine Arts and Communication. On February 13, 2020, the New York Philharmonic will feature the world premiere of a new work by León, the first to be played from their commissions for the interdisciplinary multi-season Project 19.
León has received Grammy nominations for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. She has appeared as guest conductor throughout the U.S. and on all continents of the world. Her honors include induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (where she currently serves as vice president) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; recognition from the Fromm, Koussevitzky, and Guggenheim foundations; the ASCAP Victor Herbert Award; a Pulitzer Prize nomination and a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.