Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, and he has been dubbed a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by The New York Times, a “thoughtful and mature composer” by NPR and “ferociously talented” by TimeOut New York. In June of 2011 the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and the Department of Education named Mr. Tao a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him a YoungArts gold medal in music. Later that year, Mr. Tao was named a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. In May of 2012 he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
During the 2015-16 season Mr. Tao performs with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Brazilian Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic, among others; he also performs recitals in Europe and throughout the United States with repertoire ranging from Bach to Frederic Rzewski to Rachmaninoff to Julia Wolfe. Past notable symphonic engagements have included the San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony and Nashville Symphony. Mr. Tao maintains a close relationship with the Aspen Music Festival, and he has appeared at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Brevard Music Center, Ravinia Festival and Mostly Mozart Festival.
In June of 2013, Mr. Tao kicked off the inaugural UNPLAY Festival at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, which he curated and produced. The festival, designated a “critics’ pick” by TimeOut New York and hailed by the The New York Times for its “clever organization” and “endlessly engaging” performances, featured Mr. Tao with guest artists performing a wide variety of new works. Across three nights encompassing electroacoustic music, performance art, youth ensembles and much more, UNPLAY explored the fleeting ephemera of the Internet, the possibility of a twenty-first century canon and music’s role in social activism and critique. That month, Mr. Tao, a Warner Classics recording artist, also released Voyages, his first full-length recording for the label, 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 – as the thoughtful programming on this album…proclaims.” His next album, Pictures, which slots works by David Lang, Toru Takemitsu, Elliot Carter and Mr. Tao himself alongside Mussorgsky’s familiar and beloved Pictures at an Exhibition, was released in October 2015.
Mr. Tao’s career as a composer has garnered eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards as well as the Carlos Surinach Prize from BMI. In the 2013-14 season, while serving as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s artist-in-residence, Mr. Tao premiered his orchestral composition, The World Is Very Different Now. Commissioned in observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the work was described by The New York Times as “shapely and powerful.” Most recently, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia commissioned a new work for piano, orchestra and electronics, An Adjustment, which received its premiere in September 2015 with Mr. Tao at the piano. The Philadelphia Inquirer declared the piece abundant in “compositional magic,” a “most imaginative [integration of] spiritual post-Romanticism and ‘90s club music.”
Conrad Tao was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1994. He has studied piano with Emilio del Rosario in Chicago and Yoheved Kaplinsky in New York, as well as composition with Christopher Theofanidis.