Tania León is an Afro-Cuban Latina composer who has made her mark by following the rhythm of her own beat.
León’s pieces carry both her Caribbean influences and the sounds of her travels. She has a remarkable body of work and a journey that’s taken her around the world and landed her numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
This year, Northwestern University’s music department awarded her the Nemmers Prize in Music Composition.
Thinking beyond labels and boundaries is what León said she wants students to take away as she hosts workshops and coaching sessions over the next two years.
“The thing is that, I think the culture of a person is the sum total of the experiences of that person that have created their own language,” León said. “That’s what we call my language, being me, what I represent.”
León keeps her humble beginning in Havana close to her heart, praising her family for supporting her dreams at a young age. Now, her pieces have been played on stages across the world.
“I’m a metamorphosis of all of these influences,” León said, “and sometimes I’m writing, and they come back to me. Regardless of the kind of music I’m doing, I like to be spontaneous and allow what came to my mind to be there.”