At just 19 years of age, Conrad Tao is already a piano master. With a fluidity over the keyboard that is breathtaking, (see the video clip above), the native of Urbana, Illinois has been wowing audiences the world over with his incredible skill.
A child prodigy who started playing the piano at 18 months of age, Tao will be in Ottawa for two concerts on November 28 and 29 at the National Arts Centre. To help welcome this immense talent to the nation’s capital, Apartment613 is giving away a pair of tickets for each performance. To enter, send an email to email@example.com with the subject line “Mozart and Shostakovich Contest” by 4 pm Monday, November 25. The two winners will be picked on Monday evening.
Tao, who also composes and plays the violin, will be performing Mozart’s piano concerto No. 19 in F major. The piece, which was composed in 1784, is also sometimes referred to as the “second coronation concerto” due to being performed at the coronation of Leopold II in Frankfurt in 1790.
Tao has already won numerous awards in his young career, including being named a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor that is awarded every two years to the most promising pianists in the United States that are 22 or younger.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, premiered earlier this week Tao’s composition The World Is Very Different Now, which marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Pretty impressive work for a young man who is currently attending a joint degree program at Columbia University and Juilliard, the internationally famous school for the performing arts.
In addition to Tao’s magical musical chops, Pinchas Zukerman will be leading the NAC Orchestra in a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. Debuting in 1953 after the death of Stalin, this piece by one of the Soviet Union’s most famous composers was an opportunity for this musical maestro to let his artistic genius explode, after having much of his work controlled by the Communist state under Stalin.
Feza Zweifel, the principal timpani for the NAC Orchestra, performed under Shostakovich’s son Maxim when he was a student (see video interview above). He recalls hearing Maxim recite stories about his father, and coming to appreciate how the Tenth Symphony offered Shostakovich a way to explore musical passions that were kept in check by the harsh Stalinist era that gripped the U.S.S.R. for decades.
Zweifel explains how the harsh, savage-like second movement is meant to be a musical portrait of the cruel dictator Stalin. The power of this symphony makes it one of Shostakovich’s most popular compositions.