Brooklyn College professor Tania León wins 2021 Pulitzer Prize in music



Rachel Dalloo

Tania León, a composer, conductor and recognized music professor at Brooklyn College, was honored with the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in music for her musical composition “Stride.”

“Tania León has made it her life’s work to create and encourage profound, striking music that, significantly, places diversity at center stage,” CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said in a statement. “Our heartfelt congratulations to Professor León, whose dedication to what she calls ‘the canvas of sounds in the Americas’ was vividly captured in her Pulitzer-winning piece, commissioned in celebration of women’s voting rights, as it incorporates Black music traditions from the United States and the Caribbean.”

León’s award-winning piece was part of the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center’s Project. It was showcased to “mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage,” according to a CUNY report.

Her work was included in a “multi-season Philharmonic” orchestra, which was made up of 19 composers. This group was the largest commission in history and only included female composers.

The committee for the Pulitzer Prize expressed that León’s “Stride,” was a “musical journey full of surprise.”

She is set to receive a $15,000 prize for her submission.

“Everything that happens big for me brings me back to my initial times and the fact that my family, even with little means, did everything possible for me,” León said. “It’s a big recognition from my colleagues and something I will cherish. I hope that my sounds can contribute to the canvas of sounds in the Americas.”

In addition to teaching at Brooklyn College, she currently serves as the vice president for the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Music Division. She is also the founder and artistic director for Composers Now.

León is a part of the board of directors for the MacDowell Colony and the New York Philharmonic, as stated by CUNY.

“As a professor and director of music composition in Brooklyn College’s Conservatory of Music, Tania León helped nurture our talented students for decades and has left an extraordinary musical legacy on our campus,” Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson said.

Anderson further expressed her pride in León.

“We are proud that the world is now celebrating her incredible composition, ‘Stride,’ a timely salute to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage,” she added. “On behalf of the Brooklyn College extended family, I congratulate Professor León on this tremendous achievement.”

León is one of the many CUNY instructors across all campuses who has been awarded with prestigious awards for their composing and musical creations throughout the years.

According to the report, a CUNY faculty member from Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music, Eric Davis, and alumni Arturo O’Farrill and JoAnn Falletta were named winners at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, which took place in March.

Davis was awarded Best Musical Theater Album. O’Farrill won Best Latin Jazz Album and Falletta won as a conductor for Best Choral Performance.