New York Magazine
“Conrad is the kind of musician who is shaping the future of classical music.”
The New York Times
“adventurous, agile and often electrifying as he navigated works both contemporary and classical.”
The Washington Post
“Tao commanded the […] Piano with playing of assertive virtuosity, razor-sharp articulation, and an embrace of both the rhapsodic and the anarchic in the writing.”
The Baltimore Sun
“Tao possesses startling technical elan and an ability to communicate clearly, no matter how thorny a score may become. He also has a hefty dash of charm.”
New York Times
“[Tao’s] program… conveyed the scope of his probing intellect and openhearted vision.”
San Diego Union Tribune
“If I could, I would hear every performance he plays.”
Boston Classical Review
“Tao is foremost a musician’s pianist, who displays maturity and sensitivity beyond his youthful age. That was the effect of his Boston debut Wednesday night at Pickman Hall. Presented by the Celebrity Series, Tao’s recital of John Adams, Jason Eckardt, Schumann, Bach, and Beethoven reflected every shade of his soulful musical personality. Tao plays with remarkable precision and commanding presence. Subtle pauses between phrases and colorful tone recall the nuances and dynamism of Artur Schnabel and Martha Argerich. Yet there is a balance between power and delicacy that is all the pianist’s own.”
“Then pianist Conrad Tao come onstage, and the casual atmosphere galvanised into something unforgettable. Tao was the feature for the remainder: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 17, William Grant Still’s lyrical tone poem “Out of the Silence” and “Rhapsody in Blue” from Gershwin. Mozart and Gershwin are essentially traditional summer sounds in New York but rarely, if ever, heard like this. Tao was clearly having fun, while also being serious about the music. From his very first phrase in the piano concerto, he added quick and judicious embellishments to every line, minuscule grace notes that expanded the colour and charm in the music, and so idiomatic that one felt this was how it might have gone when the piece was new.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“…an imaginative, energetic and sensitive pianist. The 28-year-old from Urbana, Ill., not only brought out all the turbulent emotions of Mozart’s 24th Piano Concerto, but emphasized the calm within the storm at key junctures. Similarly, his interpretation of C.P.E. Bach’s Concerto in D was full of fleet, fiery passages and involving slow meditations.”
Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer and has been dubbed “the kind of musician who is shaping the future of classical music” by New York Magazine, and an artist of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by The New York Times. Tao has performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Boston Symphony. As a composer, his work has been performed by orchestras throughout the world; his first large scale orchestral work, Everything Must Go, received its world premiere with the New York Philharmonic, and its European premiere with the Antwerp Symphony, and he was the recipient of a 2019 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, for Outstanding Sound Design / Music Composition, for his work on More Forever, in collaboration with dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher. He is the recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and was named a Gilmore Young Artist—an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation.
In the 2022-23 season, Tao returns to perform Mozart with the New York Philharmonic, for whom he will also curate a program for their Artist Spotlight series, featuring collaborations with vocalist, Charmaine Lee, and wind ensemble, The Westerlies. He will also return to the San Francisco Symphony both as a soloist in Gershwin’s Concerto in F major at Davies Symphony Hall, and as a curator for their Soundbox series. In Washington, DC, he will make his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra performing Shostakovich with Dalia Staveska, and, following Atlanta Symphony’s premiere of his Violin Concerto with Stefan Jackiw in 2021, he will appear as soloist with the orchestra performing Ravel with Ryan Bancroft. After their successful collaboration with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Tao will further re-unite with Hannu Lintu to perform Tchaikovsky with the Naples Philharmonic, as well as return to Finland to open the season with the Tampere Philharmonic and Santtu-Matias Rouvali.
In his first collaboration with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra this Fall, Tao will curate and lead a program of music by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Gesualdo, CPE Bach, Feldman, and Mozart. Other upcoming collaborations include ongoing performances of Counterpoint with dancer Caleb Teicher, and performances of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Orchestra of St Luke’s, as part of Paul Taylor Dance Company’s season at Lincoln Center. The season will also include a multi-city tour with the Junction Trio, which includes the group’s Celebrity Series of Boston debut, alongside performances in New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, and more.
In the 2021-22 season, Tao opened Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart with Louis Langree at Damrosch Park performing Mozart, Gershwin, and William Grant Still. He also returned to perform with Jaap van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic at the Bravo! Vail Festival and appeared with the Chicago Symphony performing Ravel at the Ravinia Festival. Further orchestral engagements included Ravel with Cincinnati Symphony; Rachmaninov’s Concerto No.4 with the Kansas City Symphony; and Tao’s own composition, “Spoonfuls”, with the New Jersey Symphony. In the same season, Tao also made solo recital debuts at London’s Wigmore Hall, Seattle’s Meany Center, and Celebrity Series of Boston, and also gave recitals in New York, Washington, and other cities throughout North America. Tao’s violin concerto, written for Stefan Jackiw, was premiered by the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Spano, and the Baltimore Symphony under Kirill Karabits. His recent performances also include multi-concert residencies with the Finnish Radio Symphony and the Swedish Radio Orchestra, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Santa Caecilia Orchestra and Antonio Pappano.
A Warner Classics recording artist, Tao’s debut disc Voyages was declared a “spiky debut” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross. Of the album, NPR wrote: “Tao proves himself to be a musician of deep intellectual and emotional”. His next album, Pictures, with works by David Lang, Toru Takemitsu, Elliott Carter, Mussorgsky, and Tao himself, was hailed by The New York Times as “a fascinating album [by] a thoughtful artist and dynamic performer…played with enormous imagination, color and command.” His third album, American Rage, featuring works by Julia Wolfe, Frederic Rzewski, and Aaron Copland, was released in the fall of 2019. In 2021, Tao and brass quartet The Westerlies released Bricolage, an album of improvisations and experiments recorded in a small cabin in rural New Hampshire in June 2019.
Tao was born in Urbana, Illinois in 1994. He has studied piano with Emilio del Rosario in Chicago and Yoheved Kaplinsky in New York, and composition with Christopher Theofanidis.