Press Releases


Date Released: 12/22/2006

Purchase College has received an $80,000 grant from the New York State Music Fund to commission two works by contemporary Cuban-American composer Tania Leon and Puerto Rican-Bronx-based composer Ray Santos.

“We are honored to have been awarded this grant,” said Laura Kaminsky, Dean of the Purchase College School of the Arts, Conservatory of Music, “and to have these two distinguished artists-in-residence on our campus during the 2007-08 academic year.” Purchase was one of 218 grant recipients recommended from a pool of 402 applications.

“The support of the New York State Music Fund has made it possible for our students, faculty and the public to enjoy a heightened level of engagement with Ms. Leon and Mr. Santos, two distinguished artists known for the excellence of their music and commitment to education and community outreach,” she said. 

The Purchase Symphony Orchestra and the Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra will perform the works of the two artists in their 2007-08 seasons. Ms. Leon and Mr. Santos will work directly with students and interface with the general public through a series of community outreach activities coordinated by Dean Kaminsky, who is also a composer.

Their residencies at Purchase are also part of a broader campus initiative involving all the academic units of the College, The Performing Arts Center and the Neuberger Museum of Art—“Africa and the African Diaspora: Traditions, Revolutions and Innovations”—that will offer public programs, including concerts, film series, dance performances, academic symposia and more over the course of the year.

“The creation and performance of their new works as part of the Africa and the African Diaspora project is an enormous gift to our students and to the public audiences who will benefit from the performance of these works,” said Dean Kaminsky.  “The New York State Music Fund grant has made it possible for our students, faculty and the public to have a heightened level of engagement with leading artists and a meaningful cross-cultural experience for all.  We are honored to have been awarded this support and are looking forward to a powerful and positive musical adventure.”

Ray Santos is a legendary four-time Grammy Award winner for Latin music who also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song for a Motion Picture for his work on The Mambo Kings. A graduate of the Juilliard School, he has played, recorded, composed and arranged for frontline orchestras throughout the Latin music industry for more than 50 years. He has also collaborated with a wide array of artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Julio Iglesias, Tito Rodriguez and Dizzie Gillespie, among others.

Tania Leon is a highly regarded composer and conductor, who is also recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has composed music for opera, ballet, orchestra and other instrumental ensembles and has appeared as a guest conductor throughout the United States and Europe. She is a founding member and the first music director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. From 1993 to 1997 she was the new music advisor to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic, with whom she has also appeared as guest conductor. She has been the subject of numerous profiles on television and in independent films, and was featured on Univision’s “Orgullo Hispano” series which celebrates living American Latinos whose contributions in society have been invaluable.

The New York State Music Fund was created when the New York State Attorney General’s Office resolved investigations against major record companies that had violated state and federal laws prohibiting “pay for play” (also called “payola”).

The settlement agreement stipulated that funds paid by music businesses would support music education and appreciation for the benefit of New York State residents. The Attorney General’s Office enlisted the services of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, one of the nation’s largest and most experienced philanthropy services, to develop and manage the grant program.