She left her native land of Cuba in 1967, with her recently-earned bachelor’s degree in piano, on a “Freedom Flight.” She was eager to take on the world and indeed, Tania León, now a distinguished professor in the Conservatory of Music, would go on to fame and accolades that few composers from her homeland could ever claim.

On election day, she will board an airplane bound for Cuba, returning now as an accomplished composer and musician, a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award nominee, and the first Latina to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among many other accomplishments and awards. She has conducted orchestras the world over, but never in her homeland.

Later this month, León will perform at the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, where she attended concerts as a child, this time as the conductor. The program will feature one of her orchestral pieces, “Indigena for Orchestra.”

“This trip is particularly emotional for me as I have vivid memories of my grandmother taking me to the concerts of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Cuba on Sundays mornings,” León commented. “I’m reminded of my ancestors – family members who inspired and helped me to dream of a musical career that was then in a far distant future. I’m also deeply moved to be able to introduce my orchestral sound to the peoples of Cuba.”

The concert will be at the National Theater in Havana on Nov. 13, part of the 29th Havana Festival of Contemporary Music.

To learn more about León, check out page 7 of the most recent issue of B, the Brooklyn College alumni magazine.