Conrad Hyde was born in 1977 in Deer Park California. His family moved to Portland, Oregon when he was 3 years old. At age 5 his parents gave him the choice of violin or cello music lessons, and because his sister chose the violin, Conrad opted to begin cello lessons. His first teacher was Kathy Walden who specialized in violin and did not herself play cello but functioned nonetheless in coaching Conrad on proper tone and techniques that bridged the gap between the two instruments. Both Conrad and his sister Kimberly were educated in music utilizing the Suzuki method which emphasizes listening to music and learning to play by ear. At age 9 Kathy Walden referred Conrad to the instruction of Kathy Reed since he had progressed through the Suzuki method to a point where an actual cello teacher was needed. At age 12 Conrad and his family relocated to Chattanooga, TN where he studied initially under the instruction of Suzanne Sims and soon thereafter became the student of Dr. James Stroud at Chadek Conservatory UTC campus. Dr. Stroud very quickly realized the potential of his young student and instilled a desire for excellence and achievement in music which has carried on and grown ever since. Dr Stroud also realized the benefit in encouraging collaboration and Conrad performed in numerous recitals with pianists and violinists during his time training with Stroud.
Always fond of innovation and experimentation Conrad would often as a diversion, pick up his father’s worn out nylon string classical guitar and self taught himself (with the aid of a barely legible old chord chart) to play a number of classical excerpts and gospel hymns. Although cello had always been his principle instrument, he also took piano lessons for 2 years from Elaine Janzen and would also play “anything with strings” if given the opportunity. He was also a member of several choral groups in elementary school and high school. Following high school graduation he was selected to be a part of the La Vie vocal sextet where he sang bass, baritone and tenor parts and went on a 3 week tour of Europe with 5 classmates featuring performances in Germany and Poland.
In 8th grade Conrad auditioned and won a seat in the SAU symphony orchestra and by the time he graduated high school, had claimed the position of principal cellist, which he held for 4 years when he left SAU to pursue a career in business management. While at SAU he studied music performance and toured with the SAU symphony to locations such as Europe, Australia, and Canada. Conrad also taught cello lessons to students at the A.W. Spalding Elementary School during his college years, and one of his star pupils Brian Lauritzen, succeeded him as principal cellist. The SAU symphony under the leadership of acclaimed director Orlo Gilbert proved to be a melting pot for great talent and Conrad performed in several string quartets as well as becoming a member of the alternative rock band “Blanket” in 1997. Upon leaving SAU in 1998, Conrad toured and played with Blanket for 4 years during which they covered much of the US and won regional recognition in several festivals – including the Southeastern GMA music awards.
Another group that was founded at SAU was the Pizzicato String Quartet. Formed in 1995, the group was initially comprised of the traditional 2 violins, 1 viola, and cello formation. The other members of PSQ were Shawn Pellington, Shannon Pellington (sister of Shawn), and Esther Moldrik. Conrad and Esther were also members of Blanket until 2002 – at which point Blanket disbanded and Conrad and Esther put their musical energy entirely into PSQ. Borrowing some of the musical inspiration from contemporary folk and alternative music which he’d grown very fond of while performing with Blanket, Conrad began composing original music and writing arrangements of popular hit songs for the group to perform. These turned out to be a hit with many audiences and clients began to request special arrangements of their favorite love songs in wedding ceremony performances. Conrad also began to introduce acoustic and electric guitar into the mix during this time, adding to the post modern effect. In 2005, Pizzicato String Quartet renamed as Forte Strings, and in 2008 Esther left the group to focus on being mother to a young son and two twin girls which were born that same year. Later that year Darlene Karst Mew came onto the Forte Strings scene. Born in South Africa and amazingly skillful on the keyboard and vocally – Darlene revolutionized the sound of Forte Strings and took the place of Esther as the 4th member of the band. Since 2008 Forte Strings has been consistently raising the level of performance and adding many layers to their incredibly unique sound.
When he’s not performing with Forte Strings, Conrad takes on jobs as a finish carpenter and was recently featured in the television show, “Tiny House Nation” where he performed finish carpentry on a friend’s tiny house. Hobbies include backpacking, bouldering, mountain biking, and all things outdoors. A huge fan of the Appalachian trail(something all members of Forte Strings share), he has currently section hiked just under half of the southern portion and someday hopes to through hike the entire AT. Since Conrad handles the booking for Forte Strings he’ll often joke that if he’s not answering his phone it’s because he’s somewhere there’s no service!