Major Leonel A. Peña hails from the city of Edinburg in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. He assumed duties as Officer-in-Charge of the Vocal Element of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in summer of 2016. In this capacity, he serves as Conductor of The U.S. Army Chorus and as Director of The U.S. Army Voices. Prior to leading these two ensembles he served as Officer-in-Charge of The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, leading this group and The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets in musical support of ceremonies for The White House, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Joint Force Headquarters National Capitol Region/Military District of Washington. He previously served as Commander & Conductor of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Band at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Under his leadership, the TRADOC Band was awarded both the Army Superior Unit Award and the Colonel George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands.
Before assuming command of the TRADOC Band, Major Peña was deployed as the Army Bands Liaison Officer to U.S. Army Central/Coalition Forces Land Component Command headquarters in Kuwait during Operations NEW DAWN and ENDURING FREEDOM. In this position, he provided doctrinal and regulatory guidance to deployed Army bands, and worked with U.S. Embassies to establish and facilitate partnerships with foreign military bands throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
Prior to his duties overseas, Major Peña served as Director of the Soldiers’ Chorus & Associate Bandmaster of The United States Army Field Band “The Musical Ambassadors of the Army” from Washington, DC. While there, he participated in frequent national concert tours, and in joint performances with renowned symphony orchestras. Major Peña also served as Commander of the U.S. Army School of Music Staff & Faculty Company in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he was responsible for the welfare and supervision of Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians in a wide variety of academic, administrative, curriculum development, training, and support departments that facilitated over five hundred students annually.
Major Peña served as the Staff Bands Officer for Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). In this position he was responsible for administrative oversight of eighty of the Army’s 105 bands assigned to FORSCOM. As his first assignment in the Army, Major Peña served as Executive Officer & Associate Conductor of the Army Ground Forces Band at Fort McPherson, GA.
Major Peña holds degrees from Southwest Texas State University and Central Michigan University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He also earned certifications from the Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. His military training and education includes the Adjutant General Officer Basic Course, the Army Band Officer Course, the Army Bands Captains Career Course, the Army Instructor Training Course, the Army Instructor Evaluator Course, the Systems Approach to Training Course, the Training Developer Managers’ Course, the Combat Lifesavers Course, and the Airborne Course.
Major Peña has performed and recorded with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus. He has attended choral and instrumental conducting workshops and symposiums across the nation. Ensembles under his leadership or direction have performed for the President of the United States, leaders of both houses of Congress, foreign Heads of State and other dignitaries, music educator conventions, on nationally televised appearances, with Grammy-winning orchestras, and for the nation’s most senior civilian and military leaders. He has guest conducted bands, choirs, and orchestras of all levels, and has adjudicated for various music festivals. In 2005, Major Peña was inducted into the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels by Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher.