“Conrad is the kind of musician who is shaping the future of classical music.”
New York Magazine
“adventurous, agile and often electrifying as he navigated works both contemporary and classical.”
The New York Times
“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 Washington Post
“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.”
The Baltimore Sun
“[Tao’s] program… conveyed the scope of his probing intellect and openhearted vision.”
New York Times
“If I could, I would hear every performance he plays.”
San Diego Union Tribune
“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.”
Boston Classical Review
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. 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. As a composer, he was also the recipient of a 2019 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, for Outstanding Sound Design / Music Composition, for his work on More Forever, his collaboration with dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher.
Conrad Tao has recently appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Boston Symphony. As a composer, his work has been performed by orchestras throughout the US; his first large scale orchestral work, Everything Must Go, was premiered by the New York Philharmonic in 18-19, and will be premiered in Europe by the Antwerp Symphony in 21-22. In the same season, his violin concerto, written for Stefan Jackiw, will be premiered by the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Spano, and the Baltimore Symphony under Kirill Karabits. In the 2021-22 season, he will also make his London solo recital debut at the Wigmore Hall, and will appear in recital throughout North America, including Boston, New York, Washington, and Seattle. Tao’s Bessie Award-winning dance work with Caleb Teicher, More Forever, will continue to tour North America, including performances at Cal Performances in Berkeley and Fall for Dance North in Toronto. Other collaborations include his duo work Counterpoint, also with Caleb Teicher, and a multi-city tour with violinist Stefan Jackiw and cellist Jay Campbell, as a member of the Junction Trio.
In the 2020-21 season, Tao was the focus of a series of concerts and interviews with the Finnish Radio Symphony, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with Hannu Lintu and Andrew Norman’s Suspend with Sakari Oramo, live on television. While most performances in the 20-21 season were canceled due to the COVID epidemic, he appeared with the Cincinnati Symphony and Louis Langrée, returned to the Seattle Symphony to perform Beethoven Concerto No. 4, and returned to Blossom with the Cleveland Orchestra, and Bravo! Vail with the New York Philharmonic and Jaap van Zweden. Further invitations included the National Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. His creation with Caleb Teicher, More Forever, commissioned by Works & Process at the Guggenheim, was planned for tours across the US, including Dance Cleveland and Fall for Dance, Toronto. Tao and Teicher’s latest collaboration for Works & Process, Rhapsody in Blue, kicked off the Guggenheim’s return to in-person performances and was lauded by The New York Times as “monumental.”
In 19-20, Tao was presented in recital by Carnegie Hall, performing works by David Lang, Bach, Julia Wolfe, Jason Eckhardt, Carter, Rachmaninoff, and Schumann. He also made his debut in recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where the LA Phil presented him in works by Copland and Frederic Rzewski. Following his debut at Blossom Music Center, the Cleveland Orchestra invited Tao to perform at Severance Hall in a special program featuring music by Mary Lou Williams and Ligeti, and improvisation alongside pianist Aaron Diehl. After his debut with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, his return date was cancelled due to COVID; instead he was invited to give a streamed recital in their Great Performers series, where he played works by Felipe Lara, Crawford Seeger, Tania León, David Lang, and Beethoven.
Additional highlights of recent seasons include Tao’s LA Opera debut in the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s the loser. In Europe, he has been presented by the Swedish Radio Symphony in recital and in Andrew Norman’s Suspend alongside Susanna Mälkki; he also recently returned to the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, performing with Antonio Pappano. Among other recent performances of his compositions are his own performance of The Oneiroi in New York with the Seattle Symphony, and Spoonfuls with the IRIS Orchestra.
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.
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.