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.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“The concert opened with a splendid performance of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, another work that’s written across musical genres. […] Soloist Conrad Tao’s poise, fierce technique and footloose grace were ideal for the brash extroversion of the outer movements. In the slow movement, his sincerity never veered into sentimentality…The concerto and the oratorio both received, and richly deserved, standing ovations.”
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 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 also 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 2023-24 season, Tao makes his subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F major with James Gaffigan. He also re-unites with the New York Philharmonic to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17, following his curated program for them last season as part of the Artist Spotlight series, and is presented in recital by the Cleveland Orchestra. Meanwhile, he celebrates the 100th anniversary of Rhapsody in Blue, giving performances of the work at the Philharmonie in Berlin, the the Elbphillharmonie in Hamburg, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with Matthias Pintscher and the Kansas City Symphony. He has also written a new companion piece to the work commissioned by the Santa Rosa Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, and Omaha Symphony. His return engagements include performances with the Cincinnati Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and Seattle Symphony, whom he play-directs in Conrad Tao’s Playlist, weaving Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 into an adventurous program of Stravinsky, Purcell, Linda Catlin Smith, and Morton Feldman. As part of the celebration of Rachmaninoff’s 150th birthday, Tao brings Rachmaninoff Songbook to the 92NY and Germany’s Klavierfestival Ruhr, presenting a direct line from Rachmaninoff to the music of Billy Strayhorn, Harold Arlen, and Stephen Sondheim.
In a concert curated by Tao himself, Tao invites UK-based new-music collective Distractfold to make their NYC debut at Kaufman Music Center with the world premiere of Andrew Greenwald’s A Thing Made Whole VIII along with music by Jürg Frey, Hanna Hartman and Mauricio Pauly. This season also includes performances with dancer Caleb Teicher in the duo’s Counterpoint program, which synthesizes the two seemingly disparate artforms of piano and tap dance. More collaborations include a multi-city tour throughout the season with the Junction Trio, including a program of John Zorn, Ives, and Beethoven at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the trio’s Detroit debut, among many others.
In the 2022-23 season, Tao performed Mozart with the New York Philharmonic, for whom he also curated a program for their Artist Spotlight series, featuring collaborations with vocalist Charmaine Lee, and wind ensemble The Westerlies. Tao also made an appearance with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom and 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 made 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 appeared as soloist with the orchestra performing Ravel with Ryan Bancroft. After their successful collaboration with the Finnish Radio Symphony, Tao further re-united with Hannu Lintu to perform Tchaikovsky with the Naples Philharmonic, as well as returned to Finland to open the season with the Tampere Philharmonic and Santtu-Matias Rouvali.
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 means”. 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.