Christopher Taylor

Those who know the pianist Christopher Taylor tend to speak of him in the hushed, reverent tones typically reserved for natural wonders if not the otherworldly. Colleagues trip over words like innocence, fervor, beauty and vision in an att pt to capture his elusive personality. Critics praise his virtuosity, his cerebral interpretations tempered by an aching tenderness, his unconventional programming and his advocacy of late-20th-century music. So goes the opening of the recent New York Times preview article about this remarkable young American pianist, an artist pursuing a varied and truly acclaimed career. While Taylor has a well-earned reputation for his exquisite performances of Bach and his exciting performances of romantic piano concertos, he has captured the attention of the music world with his recent tour de force programming of Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus,. Before a rapt audience at the Miller Theater on Saturday night, Mr. Taylor, a lanky 31-year-old pianist who graduated summa cum laude in mathematics from Harvard, gave an astonishing performance ofemessiaen's complete Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jesus, more than two hours of some of the most complex and difficult music ever written for the piano. And he played the 176-page score from memory. Christopher Taylor has been heard in performance with the New York Philharmonic, the Buffalo and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the National Symphony, and the Symphonies of Atlanta, Houston, Fort Worth, among many others in the U.S. and abroad. Recently honored with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, he is the winner of the Kapell Competition, the Gilmore Young Artist Award, and the Bronze Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition. He records for the JonathanDigital label. Christopher Taylor was propelled into the music pages of the nation's newspapers when he became the first American since 1981 to reach the finals in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (1993). He then went on to win the Bronze Medal, and his resulting CD has won critical acclaim. Prior to His performances at the Cliburn, Mr. Taylor was one of the first four recipients of the Gilmore Young Artists Award (1990), a scholarship for exceptionally promising American pianists aged 22 or younger. Shortly thereafter he took first prize in the William Kapell International Piano Competition, which was held at the University of Maryland and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Since his first solo recital at ten he has given concerts in many cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore and Denver and dozens of communities in the U.S. and abroad. He has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, and with numerous other orchestras. He has appeared at the Ravinia Festival, and (on several occasions) at the Colorado Music Festival, among others. Mr. Taylor began his piano studies in his native Boulder, Colorado, under Julie Bees, and has since studied with Francisco Aybar, Russell Sherman, and Maria Curcio Diamand. While pursuing his musical career he also attended Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in mathematics in 1992. Mr. Taylor maintains many other active interests, including composition (a field in which he has won several awards), music theory, linguistics, bicycling, and hiking. Christopher Taylor is on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.