Composer-to-Composer Talk: Tania León/Angélica Negrón

Online Video Stream

Tickets are free; registration highly encouraged. Registrants will receive links to recordings of featured works in advance of the event.

Event Details

The Composer to Composer series features major American composers in conversation with each other about their work and leading a creative life. The intergenerational discussions, moderated by ACO Artistic Director Derek Bermel, begin by exploring a single work with one composer interviewing the other. Attendees will gain insight to each work’s genesis, sound, influence on the American orchestral canon, and be invited to ask questions of the artists. Events will be live-streamed and available for on-demand viewing for seven days following the live event.

On April 28, Angélica Negrón talks with Tania León about León’s work Carabalí for orchestra, from 1991. James Melo writes in the note for the piece, “The title Carabalí refers to a people of West Africa who rebelled against slavery, and whose saga continued through the cimarrones in the Caribbean region. The quiet and introspective character of much of the piece belies something that stirs much more deeply below the surface in preparation for the final outburst, a carnavalesque frenzy that seems to release all the energy accumulated in the previous sections. The trumpets’ calls at the end acquire a heroic and defiant urgency.

Tania León (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, educator and advisor to arts organizations. 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 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. 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. She also received a proclamation for Composers Now by New York City Mayor, and the MadWoman Festival Award in Music (Spain). León has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin and SUNY Purchase College, and served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A CUNY Professor Emerita, she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship.

Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón writes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys, and electronics as well as for chamber ensembles, orchestras, choir, and film. Her music has been described as “wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative” (WQXR/Q2) while The New York Times noted her “capacity to surprise.” Negrón has been commissioned by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kronos Quartet, loadbang, MATA Festival, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Sō Percussion, American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Botanical Garden, among others. She has composed numerous film scores, including  Landfall (2020) and Memories of a Penitent Heart (2016), in collaboration with filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo. Upcoming premieres include works for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, LA Philharmonic and NY Philharmonic Project 19 initiative.

Photo of Tania León by Michael Provost
Photo of Angélica Negrón by Catalina Kulczar

The Works

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American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.

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