Posted at 2:16 PM on December 20, 2011
by Fred Child
Alongside Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Adele, Taylor Swift (and Taylor Swift's tour marketing manager!) Forbes magazine's list of "30 Under 30" musicians includes pianist, violinist & composer Conrad Tao.
Conrad is all of 17, but he has one of the most wide-ranging and penetrating musical minds I've ever encountered. He is an accomplished violinist, he is fast becoming a world-class pianist, and he is a fascinating composer. I was lucky to meet him five years ago, when he played his own bravura set of variations on "Happy Birthday" for conductor David Zinman's 70th at the Aspen Festival. Even at age 12 it was clear Conrad was something special... not just a virtuoso prodigy who plays fistfuls of notes, but a thinker about music.
Last season, at age 16, Conrad was Composer in Residence for the Music in the Loft series in Chicago. This year he was named a US Presidential Scholar in the Arts, he's appeared on PBS's Great Performances. In September, on 36 hours notice, he filled in for Louis Lortie at a major Cliburn Series concert in Fort Worth, Texas. Reviews were glowing.
For each of the last 8 years, Conrad has won ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards. (Yes, 8 years. Do the math.)
Conrad Tao is currently in the Columbia/Juilliard joint degree program in New York, and a composition student at Yale. He has solo piano recitals coming up in Berlin and Paris this winter, in addition to a full schedule of concerts around the country.
And lest you think his work as a classical pianist, violinist and composer is too limiting, Conrad is also busy writing about his favorite alt-rock and electronica bands for sputnikmusic.com. Bjork is among is current faves.
I can't wait to hear what Conrad might be up to in the next few years.