March 30, 2023
Pianist Conrad Tao returns to Hawai‘i for season opening concert featuring Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
Pianist Conrad Tao returns to Hawai‘i for season opening concert featuring Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

HONOLULU (Aug. 26, 2016) — The Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra (HSO) opens its 2016-2017 Halekulani Masterworks season with “Tao Rachs!” on October 1 and 2 featuring pianist Conrad Tao’s triumphant return to the Blaisdell Concert Hall with a  performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme Paganini. Led by Maestro Gerard Schwarz, the season opening concert also showcases Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Liszt’s Les préludes.

The “Tao Rachs!” program will surprise concertgoers by reminding everyone of the pleasure that can be garnered from such masterpieces. While this music can be appreciated on a recording, there is nothing that can replace a live concert. When the works of composers such as Rachmaninoff are experienced at a live performance, there is always an element of surprise and excitement. Tickets range from $34 to $92 and are on sale now at or by calling 94-MUSIC (946-8742).

Tao, who made his HSO debut two years ago at age 19, has been dubbed a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by the New York Times and “a musician of deep intellectual and emotional means” by NPR. In 2011, Tao was named a Gilmore Young Artist, an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, thus launching his international career as both pianist and composer.

“Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme Paganini (or Rach Pag) is a lil’ bit nasty. . . .  I love it for its caustic wit, its occasionally camp sensibility, and its unabashed sentimentality — sometimes all three at once, which is particularly gratifying,” explained Tao. “I also appreciate how this is a piece where music seems to ricochet constantly between orchestra and soloist, demanding virtuosity of everybody onstage, not just the person out front and center.”

“I’m excited to be back in Hawaii to play with the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into the Rachmaninoff—a piece I’ve performed for nearly ten years now — with the musicians,” said Tao. “I had a wonderful time when I came to Honolulu with the Grieg two years ago.”

Internationally recognized for his moving performances, innovative programming and extensive catalog of recordings, Maestro Schwarz serves as music director of the All Star Orchestra and the Eastern Music Festival, in addition to conductor laureate of the Seattle Symphony. An audience favorite in Hawai‘i, this will be his first concert working with Tao.

The “Tao Rachs!” program includes three of the great works from the symphonic repertoire. According to Maestro Schwarz, “The four Brahms symphonies are arguably the most important works for a symphony orchestra because they are true masterpieces that help define the quality of any orchestra. There is no better way to begin a symphony season than with a Brahms symphony.”

“Liszt was one of the originators of the tone poem and Les préludes is his greatest in that genre, and a work I have loved since my childhood,” continued Maestro Schwarz. “Rachmaninoff wrote three of the most popular works for the piano and orchestra, the Second and Third Concerto and the Paganini Variations (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini). Each Variation tells its own story and Rachmaninoff’s imagination and sensational writing for the piano makes this work a joy to perform and listen to.”

Season Opening Gala – September 30

Both Tao and Maestro Schwarz will also be honored guests at the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra’s Season Opening Gala at Neiman Marcus Hawaii on Friday, Sept. 30. The Gala not only kicks off the Halekulani Masterworks 2016-2017 Season it serves as a celebration for the Symphony’s Fifth Anniversary.

Guests will be treated to a welcoming reception, three-course dinner at Mariposa Restaurant, and an evening of style and elegance with performances by many of the HSO’s musicians and a salon performance by Conrad Tao. Proceeds from this event will help fund the 2016-2017 Education and Community Engagement Program.

This program helps bring music to Hawai‘i’s youth and to those members of our community who would otherwise be unable to enjoy symphonic music. Special thanks to Neiman Marcus Hawaii, the HSO’s generous Season Opening Gala partner. Tickets are on sale now through the HSO Box Office or by calling (808) 380-7784.

Single Tickets: $300

Table Sponsor Levels: $3,000 – $5,000 – $10,000 – $15,000


Season Opener – Masterworks 1: Tao Rachs!

Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 2 at 4 pm

Gerard Schwarz, conductor

Conrad Tao, piano

Brahms – Symphony No. 3

Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Liszt – Les préludes


Concert Conversations with the Guest Artists
Ticket-holders are invited to join the HSO for Concert Conversations, starting one hour before each performance in the Blaisdell Concert Hall. Concert Conversations are included with each ticket.

For more information, call the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra Box Office (808) 94-MUSIC – (808) 946-8742 from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. To learn more about Conrad Tao, visit To learn more about Gerard Schwarz, visit


O‘ahu Student & Military Discounts:

  • Student tickets: $13 rush tickets for any seat beginning Monday, September 26.
  • Active Duty Military tickets: $20 rush tickets for any seat beginning Monday, September 26.

The Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra was founded in 2011 and made its debut in 2012. The new HSO carries on the legacy of the Honolulu Symphony, which was founded in 1900 and performed for more than a century. The orchestra employs 84 professional musicians and presents classical masterworks, pops, educational and community programs.

The mission of the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra is to present the highest-quality performances of great music, bringing national and international distinction to the orchestra and its community; to delight and educate audiences of all ages and backgrounds, and enhance the cultural vitality and quality of life in these Islands; and to operate in a financially sound manner.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit Share your Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra experience with the #HiSymphony hashtag on Twitter and Instagram @HawaiiSymphonyOrchestra and on Facebook:

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