Hometown: Richmond, Kentucky Member: 2017
Conrad’s spouse Xiaodi Liu plays the oboe – you may see her playing with the Symphony as an extra musician from time to time!
What do you want patrons of the Symphony to know about you?
Like most professional players of double-reed instruments, I make all of my own reeds by hand! In addition to rehearsals with the Symphony, practicing my instrument, and working as the bassoon teacher at the University of North Florida, I also spend on average 10-15 hours per week making reeds! It’s such a specialized craft that my wife and I co-founded a business to make and sell reed-making tools to other double-reed instrumentalists. I also worked in the Houston Grand Opera orchestra for 2 ½ seasons prior to joining the Jacksonville Symphony. Come say hello if you want to talk about opera!
Do you have any pre-concert rituals or routines?
Nap, shower, coffee. I also like to use the final moments before a concert begins to practice mindfulness.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional musician?
No idea! I would probably still be heavily involved in the arts in some way. If not in the arts, I might consider being an engineer of some sort, as I have always enjoyed problem-solving and understanding the science behind how things work.
What teacher, mentor or other influencer inspired you the most?
Aside from my parents, who are non-musicians but have always encouraged me to pursue a career in music, I would say my bassoon teachers have been of monumental importance to me over the years. I’m very thankful for all of the life (and music) lessons I’ve learned from my teachers Benjamin Kamins, Patricia Rogers, Eric Stomberg, Matt Schuler, and Dan Duncan.
What do you do in your spare time?
Between working at the Symphony, teaching at UNF (go Ospreys!), teaching private lessons, running a small business, making reeds, and practicing, there is not too much free time to be had! When I do have a free moment, however, I love spending quality time with friends and family, traveling somewhere I haven’t been to before and trying as many different kinds of food as possible.
What has been your favorite moment on stage?
I can’t pinpoint a singular moment, but my favorite times to be on stage are during concerts or rehearsals when at a certain point the orchestra is no longer a collection of players, but rather one giant organism that rushes with energy and thinks, moves, and expresses as one unit. It’s very hard to describe, but I get chills every time. Those are the moments when you sit back and think to yourself, “I’m so fortunate that I’m able to do this. I love my job.” I also love if a colleague has a solo while I have a moment of rest, and I’m able to listen and enjoy their artistry from what is literally the best seat in the house.
Do you have any pets?
We have a dog, Toby! He’s a Schnauzer/terrier mix and he’s a very good boy.
Who is your favorite composer?
My favorite composer changes frequently. Today, it’s Mozart. Tomorrow, your guess is as good as mine. Probably still Mozart.
Bachelor of Music from The Juilliard School; Master of Music from Rice University.