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Conrad Tao, Piano

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
Conrad Tao
Composer-pianist Conrad Tao has been praised for his “probing intellect and openhearted vision” (The New York Times). In a wonderfully eclectic program, the “ferociously talented” (Time Out New York) artist takes you on a journey from the superbly wrought counterpoint of Bach to the fantastic Romantic character pieces of Schumann, and on to the mesmerizing tonalities of Carter and two founders of the Bang on a Can collective.


Conrad Tao, Piano



BACH Toccata in F-Sharp Minor, BWV 910

CARTER Two Thoughts About the Piano


RACHMANINOFF Étude-tableau in A Minor, Op. 39, No. 2


JASON ECKARDT Echoes' White Veil

SCHUMANN Kreisleriana


JOHNSTON "True Love Will Find You in the End"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Salon Encores

Get together with people who love music after this Weill Recital Hall concert for a free drink and discussion with the evening's musicians.
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Distinctive Debuts is supported by endowment gifts from The Lizabeth and Frank Newman Charitable Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.

At a Glance

Conrad Tao’s eclectic program explores sundry aspects of virtuosity as it has evolved from the Baroque era to the present day. Just as Bach demonstrated his mastery of the keyboard in his densely contrapuntal toccatas, fugues, and other bravura works, so Rachmaninoff’s Études-tableaux display his trademark blend of powerhouse technique and Russian-flavored lyricism. Elliott Carter was known for the sophisticated virtuosity of his compositional technique; the seeming simplicity of Two Thoughts About the Piano masks what one scholar calls a sense “of many different things going on at once.” The similarly multilayered complexity of Jason Eckardt’s Echoes’ White Veil contrasts with the spare, minimalist patterns and textures of the two selections we hear from David Lang’s memory pieces, while Julia Wolfe’s Earring packs a high-voltage charge into a highly compressed musical space.

Schumann was an inveterate improviser at the keyboard, as one might suppose from the rhapsodic fluidity that characterizes his piano writing. The German Romantic writer E. T. A. Hoffmann, who created the memorable character of the half-crazed Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler, was the composer’s soulmate and literary counterpart. Kreisleriana pays homage to its namesake in the form of eight fantasy-like pieces that reflect the contrasting personalities of Schumann’s fictional alter egos: the impulsive Florestan and the dreamy Eusebius.


Conrad Tao

A musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” (The New York Times), Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer. Mr. Tao is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an honor bestowed every two years on the ...

A musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” (The New York Times), Conrad Tao has appeared worldwide as a pianist and composer. Mr. Tao is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Gilmore Young Artist Award, an honor bestowed every two years on the most promising American pianists.

During the 2019–2020 season, Mr. Tao makes his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a performance of works by Copland and Frederic Rzewski with the LA Phil. Following his debut last July at the Blossom Music Festival, Mr. Tao performs with The Cleveland Orchestra and pianist Aaron Diehl at Severance Hall in a special program inspired by jazz and Dadaist art film. Concerto highlights this season include performances of Mr. Tao’s own work for piano and orchestra, The Oneiroi in New York, with the Seattle Symphony, as well as performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and Pacific Symphony. He also performs The Oneiroi in New York and Galina Ustvolskaya’s Piano Concerto with the Phoenix Symphony this season.

Mr. Tao began the 2018–2019 season with the New York Philharmonic’s world premiere of his work Everything Must Go. He went on to make debuts with the LA Phil, The Cleveland Orchestra, and Boston Symphony Orchestra. Additional highlights included his inauguration of the New York Philharmonic’s Nightcap series with artist, improviser, and vocalist Charmaine Lee and dancer Caleb Teicher, with whom he also premiered the new evening-length multidisciplinary work More Forever, which continues to tour across the US. Mr. Tao’s ongoing electroacoustic collaboration with Ms. Lee continued with an opening-night performance at the 2019 Resonant Bodies Festival in New York. He made his LA Opera debut last February with the West Coast premiere of David Lang’s the loser.

This fall, Mr. Tao releases his third album with Warner Classics, American Rage, featuring works by Rzewski, Copland, and Julia Wolfe. He was born in Urbana, Illinois, and studied piano with Emilio del Rosario in Chicago and Yoheved Kaplinsky in New York.

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