Brooklyn College Announces Tania León Chair of Music, Appoints Malcolm J. Merriweather to Inaugural Position

By David Salazar

Brooklyn College has announced the creation of the Tania León Chair of Music, the institution’s first-ever endowed chair of music. The inaugural incumbent will be conductor and educator Malcolm J. Merriweather.

The chair is named in honor of León, who taught at Brooklyn College beginning in 1985 before becoming Tow Distinguished Professor in 2000 and then eventually retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2019. Additionally, she is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize winner in music and received the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievements in 2022. In 2023, she was honored with the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition from Northwestern University. She is also the Composer-in-Residence for the London Philharmonic Orchestra during the 2023-25 seasons and Carnegie Hall’s Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for its 2023-24 season.

“It is a great honor to have the first ever chair in music at Brooklyn College endowed in my name,” said León in an official press statement. “This extraordinary school has been both a haven and an inspiration for me for over thirty years, and it offers the best of what music and the arts can be: powerful, relevant, innovative, and reflective of the diversity of our great city. It gives me tremendous hope for the future to know that this position will help support singular talents like Malcolm J. Merriweather, in both their teaching and their creative pursuits.”

Merriweather is the Director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus, Music Director of The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra, and the founding Artistic Director of “Voices of Haiti.”

“I am honored beyond words to be named as the inaugural Tania León Chair of Music,” noted Merriweather. “Tania is a gift, both for her singular music-making and her irrepressibly joyful presence, and her unwavering commitment to mentoring the next generation of talent. I look forward to building upon the extraordinary example she has set, and using this opportunity to develop new ways to guide and support the musical voices of the future.”