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Conservatory of Music Professor Wins $50K Fellowship

Distinguished Professor Tania León of the music department will be the recipient of a substantial fellowship after being named a USA Fellow. PHOTO/ Brooklyn College
Distinguished Professor Tania León of the music department will be the recipient of a substantial fellowship after being named a USA Fellow. PHOTO/ Brooklyn College

By Adam Zaki

Published: February 28th, 2018

Tania León, a Distinguished Professor in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, has been named a 2018 USA Fellow, which comes with an unrestricted fund of $50,000 from the United States Artists.

The fellowship is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. According to the foundation’s mission statement, it stands upon “endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.”

As both a conductor and a composer, León plans on using the funds to work on her archives while arranging events that will promote engagement in the arts.

León has a long history of achieving awards in her field, as she has been nominated for a Grammy Award, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has won a Pulitzer Prize. She was also the first Latin American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

León spoke to BC News about receiving the fellowship and how she hopes to inspire those in her community and beyond.

“I think I can make an impact,” she said. “I hope that my mere presence can inspire others. I want to reach out to members of society who feel underrepresented in the arts and help inspire them to excel in anything they choose.”

León is a Cuban-born musician who holds a master’s degree in composing. She has taught at Brooklyn College since 1985, has been a Tow Distinguished Professor since 2000, and has been a Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York (CUNY) since 2006. She also has previous experience guest-lecturing at Harvard University and Yale University.

León will travel to Chicago in March to accept her award, taking part in a ceremony organized by the USA Fellows.

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