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Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher Pair Tap with Classical Classics
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Wednesday, March 8, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Conrad Tao taps the ivories and Caleb Teicher, metal tap shoes.

Together the former child prodigies make an unlikely but enthralling duet, with Teicher tap dancing to Tao’s rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue” and other numbers.

“It’s turned out to be pretty delightful,” said Tao. “Our program is about celebrating each other, and it feels like we’re playing. We get to show up and play together.”

Tao and Teicher will present their rather unique show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at The Argyros in Ketchum. Tickets start at $25, available at https://theargyros.org.

Conrad Tao has performed as a piano soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony. His albums include “American Rage,” and he has been commissioned to write works for such orchestras as  the New York Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Caleb Teicher is a New York-based dancer and choreographer who performed with the tap dance company Dorrance Dance before forming Caleb Teicher & Company in 2015. He has collaborated with such diverse talents as world-champion beatboxer Chris Celiz, the National Symphony Orchestra and indie rock musicians Ben Folds and Regina Spektor.

His association with Tao began 22 years ago while the two were 16- and 17-year-old high school seniors attending a week-long arts enrichment program for high school students that encompassed classical music, jazz, dance, film and other art forms.

“I saw his presentation at the dance showcase and, as we both lived in New York, we kept finding ourselves in the same orbit. We started seeing each other’s shows and became friends,” said Tao.

They first collaborated in 2013 when the Miami-based YoungArts paired them. They began working together in earnest in 2017 as Tao wrote the music for a piece that Teicher choreographed for seven dancers. Tao went on to play piano and electronics for it. This collaboration evolved into the piano/tap duet between the two of them.

“People were asking for it—people all around country and the world who wanted to bring both Caleb and myself in to do collaborative work,” he said. “We thrive on spontaneity, and there’s plenty of improvisation in what we do. We do surprise each other. I love to see how he responds when I switch gear, and I love to see how I respond when he switches gears.”

Saturday’s show will begin and end with an aria. It will include a waltz, music by Mozart and the penultimate work: George Gershwin’s 1924 “Rhapsody in Blue.”

The two created a virtual performance of it in 2020 for the Library of Congress. As Tao builds up momentum, Teicher shuffles, then slides and spins before erupting into a rapid succession of percussive taps.

“It’s a perfect summation of what we’re exploring,” said Tao. “I promise it will be a fun night.”

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