Conrad Tao

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. 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, 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 to the most promising American pianists of the new generation.

In the 2023-24 season, Tao makes his subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Gershwin’sConcerto in F Major with James Gaffigan. He also reunites with the New York Philharmonic to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17, following his curated program for the orchestra last season as part of the Artist Spotlight series. Meanwhile, he celebrates the 100th anniversary of Rhapsody in Blue with multiple performances of the work and a new companion piece commissioned from him by the Santa Rosa Symphony.

His return engagements include performances with the Cincinnati Symphony under Matthias Pintscher, the Oregon Symphony with David Danzmayr and the 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 Rachmaninov’s 150th birthday, Tao brings Rachmaninov Songbook to the 92NY and Germany’s Klavierfestival Ruhr, presenting a direct line from Rachmaninov to the music of Billy Strayhorn, Harold Arlen and Stephen Sondheim. 

In a concert curated by Tao himself, he invites the British-based new-music collective Distractfold to make its 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 its 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 its SoundBox series.

In Washington, D.C., he made his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra performing Shostakovich with Dalia Staveska; 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 reunited with Hannu Lintu to perform Tchaikovsky with the Naples Philharmonic, as well as a return to Finland to open the season with the Tampere Philharmonic and Santtu-Matias Rouvali. 

A Warner Classics recording artist, Tao recorded “Voyages” as his debut disc, which 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 fall 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.

Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.