Tao began playing piano when he was young, but couldn’t give an exact date if he tried.
“I’ve been playing ever since I was a baby,” Tao said and then paused. “I cannot remember how I started, it was that early.”
Learning at the family’s home in Illinois was a fluke, Tao said, explaining that neither of his parents have a musical background and the piano that his parents purchased was originally for his older sister. But that changed when Tao went to the piano without ever playing before and perfectly produced “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
“I had perfect pitch from birth and that’s probably why I was able to play it by ear,” Tao said about his musical ability. “I don’t really know what (my parent’s) first reaction was, but as they tell it, they were really shocked and kind of confused. For them it sprung out of nowhere.”
After moving to New York with his family, Tao said his motivation to continue playing the piano became solely his own.
“I moved to New York when I was 9, back then I wasn’t really thinking too much that I’m going to be making this my career,” Tao said.
“I think there was always so much love for music,” Tao added of his enjoyment of playing piano. “I always had a really, really deep love for music. And there was never a moment I didn’t enjoy it. My parents were always really supportive and they never felt like they had to push.”
In 2008, Tao was named the Davidson Fellow Laureate and his talent has earned him a $50,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. The institute is a Reno nonprofit with its mission being to support gifted young people. Tao, who is enrolled in Juilliard’s Pre-College program studying piano and violin, has a talent that fits the Davidson Institute’s mission perfectly.
Tao will perform with the Reno Philharmonic for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22, which will be the second piece performed at the “Art of the Concerto” performance. First will be Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and last will be Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.
“As a classical pianist, I travel around and I do concerto performances with different orchestras and I also do recital programs,” Tao said. “I’ll be playing Mozart’s 22nd piano concerto and it’s a great piece. I’ve played it before and it’s very wonderful, very cheerful and upbeat but at the same time it is very reflective.”
Tao hopes that audience members get to relax and simply enjoy the music as the notes wash over them.
“Music is quite simply for enjoyment,” Tao said. “Take a chance and I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Let the music flow naturally and as a listener you should just relax and enjoy it.
“Any audience can go in and enjoy the music,” Tao added.
Although Sunday’s performance is sold out, ticket holders for Sunday’s performance will be a part of the Reno Philharmonic’s commercial filming process for next season’s advertisements. So, audience members might choose to dress up.
Tickets are still available for Tuesday’s performance at 7:30 p.m. and can be purchased starting at $28, with discounts available to seniors. Students can come for rush seating for $8 one hour before performance and must bring valid student ID. Tickets can be purchased by visiting, www.renophil.com or www.pioneercenter.com, at the Pioneer Center box office or by calling, Reno Philharmonic box office at 323-6393 or the Pioneer Center for Performing Arts box office at 686-6600.
The “Art of the Concerto” will be performed at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts at 100 S. Virginia St. in Reno.
For more information about the Reno Philharmonic, visit www.renophil.com. For more information about Tao, visit www.facebook.com/conradtao.