Sonia Marie De León de Vega, noted symphony and opera conductor 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. Univision 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 5 other “Local Heroes” received this award and had a mini-profile aired throughout the month of September 2006 on KCET and its’ affiliates. The same year also brought Ms. De León de Vega her first national award from the prestigious organization Dialogue In Diversity in Washington D.C. De León de Vega is the first conductor to be featured internationally on Univision’s “Orgullo Hispano.” In 2011, she was featured in a 20 minute profile on CNN and was on the cover of Latina Style Magazine (June 2011).
Most recently, she was featured on Nightly News with Brian Williams. De León de Vega is most closely associated with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. She was 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.
Born in San Antonio, De León de Vega is the daughter of actress/producer Sonia De Leon 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 Metha and Ricardo 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 AffairsDepartment of the City of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times has described her performances as “conducting with sweep and energy” and the Beverly Hills Outlook noted that she “is a thunderbolt and a force to be reckoned with on the musical scene.”
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”. Ms. De León de Vega is profiled in the book “Latina Power” by author Ana Nogales. The book was released (2004) by New York publisher Simon and Schuster .
De León de Vega serves as a board member of the California Community Foundation and the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. She is a sought after keynote and motivational speaker. She resides with her husband and son in Los Angeles.