Sonia Marie De León de Vega
Noted symphony and opera conductor Sonia Marie De León de Vega has achieved distinction as a creative and consummate musician, as a woman in a groundbreaking career role, and as a leading influence in the growing Latino culture in the United States. Her musical talents have inspired a large following in Southern California through live orchestral presentations, as well as an international audience through televised performances in the United States, Latin America and Europe. She was the first woman in history to receive a Vatican invitation to conduct a symphony orchestra at a Papal Mass. Hispanic Business Magazine voted her one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United States in 2001, and Univision, Mervyns of California and Target named her Outstanding Latina of the Year in 2000. Hispanic Business Magazine voted her one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United States in 2001 and 2005. In April 2005 Hispanic Business Magazine named her in their “80 Elite Women” list.
In 2005 she was named “Business Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment” by Senator Jack Scott and Assemblywoman Carol Liu. In September 2006 she was awarded the “Local Hero” award by KCET. She and five other “Local Heroes” received this award and had a mini-profile aired throughout the month of September 2006 on KCET and its affiliates.
De León de Vega is most closely associated with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. She is also the Producer and Music Director for the annual Opera Under the Stars concert in Los Angeles, a venue credited with launching the careers of many young operatic vocalists. And she is celebrated in educational circles for creating the dynamic Discovering Music program that takes orchestra members into elementary schools in underserved Latino neighborhoods to introduce children to classical music and the instruments of the orchestra. This program also includes a choral component with weekly choral rehearsals with three community children choirs and two yearly presentations in such venues as Thorne Hall at Occidental College.
Born in San Antonio Texas, De León de Vega is the daughter of actress/producer Sonia De León and singer/guitarist Reynaldo Sanchez. At the age of four De León de Vega moved to Los Angeles, California, where she was raised and began her musical training becoming an accomplished pianist and organist.
While always distinguishing herself academically, her graduate studies led her to love and specialize in conducting studies with Dr. David Buck. She also trained at the Herbert Blomstedt International Institute for Instrumental Conductors and at various American Symphony Orchestra League workshops with Otto Werner Mueller, Maurice Abravanel, Pierre Boulez, Andre Previn, Zubin Mehta and Riccardo Muti.
De León de Vega has been a guest conductor for many orchestras and opera companies and has developed concerts and children’s music workshops for the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times in August 2000 has described her performances as
“conducting with sweep and energy”
and the Beverly Hills Outlook in July 2001 noted that she
“is a thunderbolt and a force to be reckoned with on the musical scene.”
CV Weekly wrote in 2013
“SCO and De León de Vega were breathtaking.” “Maestra de León de Vega had full measure of the music, leading the SCO into a blazing coda that conquered all before it.”
Under the leadership of De León de Vega, Santa Cecilia Orchestra and the Discovering Music program have attracted the sponsorship of noted foundations and institutions, including the Weingart Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. De León de Vega’s accomplishments have been recognized in a variety of media venues, including La Opinion, Vista Magazine, Latina Style, People Magazine, Hispanic Magazine, Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, Latina Magazine and Good Morning America/Despierta America.
Most recently Ms. De León de Vega was featured on the cover of Latina Style Magazine as well as profiled in a CNN segment, Vista L.A., American Latino and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.
Ms. De León de Vega is profiled in the book “Latina Power” by author Ana Nogales. De León de Vega is adjunct professor at Occidental College where she teaches instrumental conducting. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Community Foundation. Maestra De León de Vega is a sought after keynote and motivational speaker. She resides with her husband and son in Los Angeles.