Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer, and 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 Conrad 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, Conrad 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 2014-2015 season, Conrad serves as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s artist-in-residence, performing solo recitals, chamber music, and concertos. He continues his formidable globe-trotting career as a pianist with performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia, the San Diego Symphony, and the Toronto Symphony, among others. He also collaborates with the young musicians of the New York Youth Symphony, whose season he inaugurates in Carnegie Hall, and the Hawai’i Youth Symphony. In Europe, he will be returning to perform with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm, and the Bern Symphony in Switzerland. He also performs recitals in Europe and throughout the United States with repertoire ranging from Bach to Toru Takemitsu to Julia Wolfe.
On his 19th birthday in June of 2013, Conrad kicked off the inaugural UNPLAY Festival at the powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, which he curated and produced. The festival, designated a “critics’ pick” by Time Out New York and hailed by the New York Times for its “clever organization” and “endlessly engaging” performances, featured Conrad 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 21st-century canon, and music’s role in social activism and critique. That month, Conrad, a Warner Classics recording artist, also released Voyages, his first full-length 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.”
In November 2013, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra premiered Conrad’s new orchestral composition, “The World Is Very Different Now”, commissioned in observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Described by the New York Times as “shapely and powerful”, work is the latest in his accomplished career as a composer, which has featured eight consecutive ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the Carlos Surinach Prize from BMI, and an oeuvre that already includes everything from symphonic music to string quartets to electroacoustic work to popular music.
Conrad was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1994. He currently attends the Columbia University/Juilliard School joint degree program and studies piano with Professors Yoheved Kaplinsky and Choong Mo Kang at Juilliard. He studies composition with Christopher Theofanidis.