“Conrad Tao is a magical pianist, with a scholar’s mind wrapped in an almost impossible technique. Alternatively ecstatic, logical, monstrous, his playing conveyed all the complexity and terror of the work, set into relief through an unflinching attention to every disturbing detail and an unflagging musical stamina.”
"Adams may have written the demanding piano part with Ax in mind, but perhaps somewhere in his creative soul, he was writing it for Conrad Tao, still a child at the time it was composed."
"Tao -- an animated pianist who doesn’t just play every rhythmic motif from jagged punches to sublime bits of melody, but truly embodies them -- joined the Orchestra in bouncing ever-mutating melodic and rhythmic patterns off each other in the opening movement (untitled)."
“I’m also tapping into a kind of mechanical sound world — that insistent, visceral brightness of a player piano. And I think all of that contributes to the story that is being told in the piece.”
"I think that the sonic inspiration of piano rolls is also accompanied by this thematic exploration of technology, and technology's role in the 20th century in history."
Studio A turned into a dance studio this week as Classical IPR welcomed music from an unusual duo: pianist Conrad Tao and tap dancer Caleb Teicher.
"In any case, Tao’s indomitable performance epitomized—if something over an hour long can be called an epitome—the spirit of the occasion, a Fred Rzewski-like determination to come together over a great body of work, and let it shine."
Recently at the Soraya, the inquisitive young pianist Conrad Tao celebrated the Rachmaninoff anniversary by combining him with Billy Strayhorn, Stephen Sondheim, Irving Berlin and Harold Arlen. Who knew that Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G, Op. 32, No. 5 might make a suitable prelude to “Take the A Train”?
"On Thursday, April 6th, he will present a recital at The Soraya in Northridge where he will show a through-line from Rachmaninoff to Art Tatum, Billy Strayhorn and Stephen Sondheim. How might he do that? That was just what I wanted to know when I spoke last week with Conrad for the first time since our 2019 interview."
“City Lights” is a daily exploration of the creative fabric of Atlanta—our expressive, diverse, influential city. WABE host Lois Reitzes talks to leading figures and innovative newcomers in pop culture, music, theater, dance, visual arts, film, food and much more.
“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 heartfelt sincerity never veered into sentimentality.”
On the Arts, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, guest host Angie Coiro speaks with SF Symphony guest artist Conrad Tao (starts at 23:30)
Conrad Tao and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sept. 30-Oct. 2:
The pianist excelled as both soloist and curator on a marvelously inventive program of Mozart, C.P.E. Bach, the Renaissance and trailblazing American modernists.
At the piano, Conrad Tao was a formidable, often dominant force, his playing rhythmically free and at times virtually symphonic in sonority.
However, with the arrival of the chordal climax in the piano, topped by scintillating string trills, joy triumphs, and the threesome’s unforced power and virtuosity again inspired awe as Ravel’s great work came to a ringing conclusion.
Chamber music may be the art of compromise. But violinist Stefan Jackiw, cellist Jay Campbell, and pianist Conrad Tao never lose themselves completely to what their repertoire—and ensemble—demand.
Encountering a “new generation” trio approach this music last night was... a real treat from beginning to end.
The pianist and composer talked with SF Classical Voice about bringing social justice into his music, why he wants to work with a tap dancer, and how he didn’t know so much of his life as a musician would be on email.
The phenomenon of the supergroup—comprised of prominent artists and sometimes fueled by clashing egos—has surfaced in every major genre, from rock and opera to chamber music. It wasn’t on the agenda of violinist Stefan Jackiw, cellist Jay Campbell, and pianist Conrad Tao when they gathered at Tao’s Manhattan apartment in late 2015...
…how wonderful it was to once again hear some marvelous Mozart played by the SPCO and an imaginative, energetic and sensitive pianist.
Elite and elitist don’t have to be the same. The trio formed by pianist and composer Conrad Tao, violinist Stefan Jackiw, and cellist Jay Campbell is a grouping of hyper-rarefied talents, but by performing with the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, they join a long tradition of democratizing classical 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.
Straight from the Artist Propulsion Lab comes a conversation with cellist, Andrew Yee and composer/pianist, Conrad Tao as they delve deep into the heartbeat of music and accessibility in the concert hall — wearable technology to feel sound.
I hope that my programs can be an ear opening experience as a result of these unexpected juxtapositions. And I hope that they imply connections between different music and different instruments and different traditions, in a way that both highlights the beautiful diversity of the work and also hints at something shared beyond just vocabulary.
What happens to child prodigies by the time they reach their late 20s? Caleb Teicher, a tap dancer, and Conrad Tao, a pianist, composer, and former violinist, are collaborating on ideas that may change the fields in which they have found so much early success.
A message to Conrad Tao, the 27-year-old former child prodigy and graceful American soloist: never play another classic piece by a dead composer again!
Pianist and composer Conrad Tao is unique in the distinguished annals of Lansing Symphony soloists. At 27, he’s played all over the world.
Tao’s compositions go straight up your spine into the most undefended parts of your psyche. Check out his luminous, soul-wrenching electro-acoustic concerto for piano and iPad, “An Adjustment,” commissioned by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and written in the wake of a bout with depression.
As part of centennial celebrations that began last year, America’s first museum of modern art has commissioned ten new compositions, most touching upon a specific artist or artwork contained in the institution’s collection. The effort is part of a legacy of presenting innovative musical voices.
Pianist Conrad Tao and dancer Caleb Teicher charm audience in La Jolla Music Society presentation of “Counterpoint,” the first installment in its ProtoStar Innovative Series
When Caleb Teicher tap dances to pianist Conrad Tao’s rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue,” it looks spontaneous, as if they are magically linked by the same innovative mindset.
As a performer in solo or symphonic performance, he is as savvy at exploring the enigmatic jazz of polymath Thelonious Monk as he is navigating iconic works by Prokofiev or Rachmaninoff. His award-winning compositions reveal a musical mind that is fully tuned to contemporary music, while having an erudite knowledge of classical music history.
Conrad Tao is a special pianist. He is a master of technique and so much more. He performs as a listener, always hearing the harmonics of a note he strikes (or even plucks). In his own compositions and in his interpretation of the work of others, he calls our attention to the richness of a tone, colored by many notes, in geometric order above the
Long before his 30th birthday, an appearance of Conrad Tao is neither a recital or a concert or a program. It becomes an Event. The 92nd St Y Auditorium was not filled, but the enthusiasm of the audience was palpable, the combination of memory and anticipation creating a tangible event, a pre-piano phenomena.
"... there’s an unspoken rule that accompanies Beethoven’s late work... only performers long in years might adequately plumb its depths. Among other things, the 27-year-old pianist Conrad Tao blew up that canard at the end of his local recital debut (presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston) on Wednesday night at Longy’s Pickman Hall."
“Keyed In,'” the penultimate piece, exploded out of the piano with an avalanche of low notes in the right hand and a steady pulse in the left... it seemed to sing from the walls until it materialized under Tao’s hand, as the piece’s final sound.
"[Tao] demonstrated his deep knowledge of the harmonic and melodic potential of Bach’s masterful counterpoint. Hearing this new addition to a long history of keyboard improvisation on chorale themes was delighting."
"... Tao is foremost a musician’s pianist, who displays maturity and sensitivity beyond his youthful age."
"Hot-shot young pianist Conrad Tao proved why he’s the toast of the classical music world"
"This is the kind of music that overturns what you thought you knew about everything you’ve heard before."
"Entertaining and captivating"
"The kind of music they usually don’t let us play anymore...More easily felt than deciphered"
"Tao’s violin concerto is important commentary on the here and now by an established piano virtuoso and an important young compositional voice that joins a burgeoning genre of pandemic art. It begs to be deciphered."
The world premiere of a violin concerto by Conrad Tao will be performed by violinist Stefan Jackiw with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra this weekend. Lois Reitzes speaks with both artists.
Two of today’s foremost contemporary classical musicians take the stage this weekend at Symphony Hall, with the world premiere performance of the new violin concerto composed by Conrad Tao.
"In pop and almost all other music, composer-performers are of course the norm. But in our age of hyper-specialization in concert hall music, the hybrid has become rare... Just 27, pianist-composer Conrad Tao is among the brightest lights in the old tradition."
"The pianist’s cerebral approach worked wonders for his encore, Brahms’s Intermezzo in E Major, Op. 116, No. 4. If Tao fit the Mozart mold for a time, there was an element of growing out of it to this performance."
"Conrad Tao is one of a group of younger versatile pianists who are equally adept at performing Ligeti, Carter or Julia Wolfe, as well as Mozart and Beethoven."
"At 27 years of age, Tao plays with assurance and a keen understanding of how every musical gesture can affect an audience. If he continues to plat like this, he can keep coming back for a long time."
"Tao launched into Rzewski’s piano transcription of the song, plunging into the hour-long series of variations with appropriate panache...Tao’s cadenza, left optional by the composer, had its own style, not quite copying Rzewski’s but providing an enchanting twenty-first-century bridge to the literal restatement of the song."
Another live offering comes from Mosher Guest Artist pianist-composer Conrad Tao, who will be in residence at MAW, where he will perform live in a recital and also teach a masterclass.
Listen to collaborative music by pianist/composer Conrad Tao and the “accidental brass quartet”, The Westerlies, from a 2021 album, Bricolage. Recorded in a rural cabin in 2019, these brass works with piano are the results of improvisations and experiments with minimal editing and poke at the boundaries between jazz, roots and chamber music.
The music was generally restrained until a sudden outburst in the final moments, showing in no uncertain terms the trio’s thorough command of this daunting music.
The Laguna Beach Music Festival signature, a different artistic director each year, passes to pianist Conrad Tao in 2021. And Tao is bringing a musical vision both ambitious and adapted to the moment, which makes these performances worth going to.
...It’s refreshing when today’s virtuosos not only match or exceed the abilities of their predecessors, but also reveal without any hint of pretense that they’re human. That was my experience last week when I met over Zoom with the New York City-based Junction Trio...
Boldly imaginative...a brashly energetic account, an excellent source to acclimate the attentive listener to Carter’s imaginative use of variations in rhythm...
If there’s a musical prospect more exciting than a recital by the Jack Quartet, it’s the promise of hearing that adventurous ensemble in partnership with the brilliant pianist and composer Conrad Tao.
The pianist-composer is unfurling one of the concert world’s most excitingly unpredictable careers, so of course he’s used the constraints of the past year to connect with audiences in ways he never could have just by sticking to the stage.
Tao imagined and gauged much to perfection...
The Junction Trio joined WNYC's Michael Hill on Morning Edition to talk about how the three of them originally got connected, and how they now stay connected to their audiences through this long pandemic period.
By the end, with the swelling upsurge of Gershwin’s climax, the intensity of Tao’s playing, and the kaleidoscope of bodily movement, it would have been difficult to think of a better gift for that crowd, and a stronger evocation of the city’s unkillable spirit.
For the centerpiece, Tao made a return visit with an exceptional performance of Mozart’s Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453...The first movement’s orchestral introduction was bright and buoyant, and Tao made his entrance with a lighter-than-air touch. His playing was clear and expressive.
Professional pianists across the city faced the same predicament. “My piano was in horrible condition,” Conrad Tao recalled recently. “I finally went out in March and bought a tuning hammer,” he added, referring to the standard tuning tool that is actually a wrench-like lever.
My feelings about the difference between live and online music were captured in a blunt tweet this month from the young, adventurous pianist and composer Conrad Tao. “I’m referring,” he wrote, “to two upcoming prerecorded video performances as ‘shows,’ slightly facetiously, but also they definitely aren’t ‘concerts’ as I see it..."
"Conrad Tao likes music with a lot of open space in it — room to breathe, room to reflect, room to feel — and he plays even the most abstract pieces with real heart. So you never have to wonder if he means it, and you probably can’t say that about every pianist you’ve heard perform at Tanglewood."
Like many formerly globetrotting musicians, Conrad Tao is grounded until further notice. Unsurprisingly, the Manhattan-based pianist has filled his schedule with playing remote performances.
Last fall, pianist Conrad Tao released his highly political CD, American Rage. Its themes of social justice and compassion resonate more strongly than ever today.
"In Conrad Tao’s performance of Frederic Rzewski’s politically infused piano piece 'Which Side are You On?', he began by playing a recording of the original union song written by Florence Reece and ended with a hair-raising and devilish improvisation."
The playing is excellent throughout, technically superior and also vibrant and responsive, the musicians in the moment with each other and the audiences. Though from different eras, the well-made program builds momentum with the linear accumulation of excitement as if the listener were there.
Composer/pianist Conrad Tao, one of 30-plus Guggenheim-commissioned artists, created the music video What I’ve Been Doing, riffing on “the drip of my leaky ceiling; the tone of running water hitting a drain, so faint I always wonder if I’m imagining it; the rustling of a low-density polyethylene plastic bag.”
National YoungArts Foundation had scheduled Pianist Conrad Tao to present the final concert in its new YoungArts at Ted’s series in Miami this month. But with quarantines still underway, the audience has been invited - virtually - to YoungArts at Conrad’s, from the pianist’s home in New York Thursday, May 7 at 7 pm.
Conrad Tao, only recently hitting his quarter-century mark, combines the two, being both a virtuoso pianist (and violinist) and one of the convention-defying composers featured by Iris.
Conrad Tao reprised Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated for 92nd Street Y's series of livestreamed performances as more cancellations pour in due to COVID-19.
As more shows and concerts are cancelled, Conrad joins many other musicians in providing comfort and encouragement through livestreamed performances.
Tao made a dramatic appearance at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles in February last year, when he pried open the curiously poignant, halting, back-and-forth piano melody that winds down behind baritone Rod Gilfry’s imposing one-man performance as a bitterly sarcastic ex-pianist, in David Lang’s opera The Loser.
Conrad Tao is the pianist, composer and new music champion who appears in two concerts presented by the Seattle Symphony this week. He spoke with our Classical KING FM Creative Director, Dacia Clay. Conrad talks about his recital in Octave 9 on March 6 and his appearance at the SSO Celebrate Asia concert this weekend.
On Saturday, February 22 pianist Conrad Tao joins the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra for a performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Kate Remington talks with Conrad about how he gets inside this familiar work.
"Tao is a riveting performer."
"'More Forever' is fascinating every step of the way."
He gave the world premiere of 'Spoonfuls' with the Iris Orchestra in January 2020.
Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher bring their Bessie Award-winning ‘More Forever’ to Boston.
The Flyer caught up with Tao to ask him about the blues, Brahms, and the tension between performing and listening.
"His interpretation with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra makes us rethink the piece end to end, reminding us Beethoven was the pathway to both the free-flowing introspection of Chopin and the pyrotechnics of Liszt."
"He can do just about whatever he wants with a piano, playing with it, as much as playing it. It is his plaything, if you will, and a big intelligence governs everything he does."
"Whether pinch-hitting as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, playing a barefoot recital at Carnegie Hall, helping choreographer Caleb Teicher tear up the floor at Jacob’s Pillow, releasing an album of “American Rage,” or creating chamber-music alchemy with the JCT Trio, he faces the world with open mind and heart."
"This is a powerful album that demands attention whether or not you accept all of its premises, and it marks a fascinating new stage in the career of one of the most exciting young American pianists."
"When Tao followed a gorgeous opening improvisation by singing the song as he played, everyone knew its touching, tender hope.”
"Mr. Tao brought out inner voices, pungent harmonies and obsessive rhythmic elements that many pianists gloss over."
"Furiously energetic, wildly virtuosic, and totally engrossing: full of pummeling rhythms, dense clusters, and spectacularly florid passagework.... Taken together, American Rage’s selections form a tough, refreshing quartet: hard-edged and defiant, yes, but also poignant and stirring."
"One of Conrad Tao‘s distinguishing characteristics on his latest album American Rage ... is that he goes much more deeply than so many of his contemporaries into the many styles he’s called on to play."
"Conrad Tao tends to slip into celestial metaphors. During a recent interview, this musician — a veteran at just 25 — referred to his ideas about concert programming as “constellatory.” When he thought he was rambling, he cut himself off and apologized for 'galaxy-braining.'"
“I can’t praise Tao’s programming here highly enough. It’s ambitious and satisfying, and its message remains vital. It’s through the arts that we find pathways away from the messes we make for ourselves, and this recording takes you by the arm and sings you inspiration.”
"Interlochen Center for the Arts recently welcomed violinist Stefan Jackiw and pianist Conrad Tao to the Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall. They performed music of Stravinsky, Lutoslawski, Saariaho and Brahms."
"This powerful, thrilling album of American political and protest music is played with abundant angst and virtuosity by American pianist Conrad Tao... Commanding and exciting pianism."
"One of the most dynamic and deeply communicative keyboard artists on today's scene."
"This gifted pianist and composer makes his debut at Weill Recital Hall on Nov. 20 with a program that reaches from Bach to the Bang on a Can composers David Lang and Julia Wolfe, as well as Schumann (“Kreisleriana”)."
"One of the most compelling voices in classical music."
"A number of concertgoers had the pleasure of 'discovering' Tao when he took the stage to perform Maurice Ravel’s dazzling Piano Concerto in G. It’s a thrilling show piece, and Tao delivered it with supreme aplomb and obvious relish — not to mention overwhelming force."
"The evening’s most exciting moments belonged to pianist Conrad Tao, a confident young magician at the keyboard.... With any luck this sparkling performance will punch Tao’s BSO return ticket. Technically, he nailed the short concerto’s acrobatic and lyric episodes, with his temperament flashing between effusive and reflective."
"Tao is happily building a career shaped chiefly by his multifaceted interests and ever-expanding curiosity."