Tariq Harb left a promising career in finance to pursue his great love for music. He has recorded five solo guitar albums and won numerous guitar competitions.
WHAT EDUCATION HAVE YOU COMPLETED AND WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM THOSE EXPERIENCES?
I have completed an Undergraduate degree in Violin Performance at Concordia University (where I currently am on faculty), a Masters degree from McGill University in Classical Guitar Performance, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Toronto. I gained an invaluable experience attending these schools, meeting and learning from so many great musicians, both students and professors, in performance and research. My career is mainly in classical guitar performance, and so my focus throughout school was to become a better performer.
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOU TAKE ONCE YOU DECIDED TO BECOME A MUSICIAN?
I quit my previous career in Finance once I decided to become a musician. I was 25 years old. With that of course I quit my job as a mutual fund advisor, bought a violin (since I learnt some violin in my native country Jordan from ages 6 to 8), and enrolled in weekly lessons at a local music academy in Montreal, Canada.
My goal was to go back to university, but this time as a musician studying music performance. So, my lessons were geared towards preparing me to audition at Concordia University’s Music Department. Prior to that I graduated from Concordia as well majoring in Finance, and I worked for 2 years in the corporate sector before deciding to become a musician. Why? Because I could not see myself doing something that I did not love 100% for the rest of my life. I was enamored by the music of J. S. Bach, and I simply wanted to play this music and to share it with everyone. I didn’t know what it was like to be a performer. But I was so passionate about the music and the sound of classical music that I was willing to give it my all. The experience changed me completely and my mission basically started once I got accepted at Concordia for a music degree, and the rest was history!
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU OVERCOME TO GET WHERE YOU ARE TODAY, BOTH PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY?
Since I started playing classical guitar fairly late (at 25), the obstacle was to learn how to play meeting today’s performance standards. I also had to learn a substantial amount of the repertoire in order to concertize, compete, apply for studies…etc. Other than that, to be honest there were no real obstacles. Learning how to undo certain bad habits in playing wasn’t easy, but I got through those well, thankfully!
I always found a way to be myself on stage early on, and I always felt that on stage I could choose to be whoever I want at that moment. That is one of the reasons why I love performing. It frees me beyond anything else that I’ve done in the past, and allows me to communicate with the audience, through music, without inhibitions.
I discovered early that the more I commit to my craft and, at the same time, be an approachable, respecting person, the more opportunities to perform, teach…etc. came my way. It’s a simple formula that has been working ever since I decided to become a musician, and I am eternally grateful for that.
Personally, music always gave me hope and a positive outlook on the future. So, in a way it was my previous occupation (mutual fund advisor) that was hindering me personally, and from it I learnt not to embark on a career that I am not absolutely 100% in love with.
WHAT CAREER SUCCESSES ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF HAVING ACCOMPLISHED?
I am proud of many things, including the competition wins that I achieved early on. I am also proud of my very first performance, which was a concerto performance with a community orchestra in Montreal playing the Concierto de Aranjuez. I’ve performed that concerto several times so far with professional orchestras, but there is something about that first performance, where I was very inexperienced, but full of passion, that makes me remember that day clearly and with great fondness. I am also proud of my academic achievements graduating from the University of Toronto’s doctorate program and now becoming a faculty member at Concordia University.
WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT GOALS?
My next goals are to record several projects/albums: an all Bach album, which has been on my bucket list for quite some time now; an album of the pieces that have been written for me by young composers and my own compositions; and an album of my arrangements. I am also looking forward to delving into composition more, and to be able to present these new works in my upcoming tour of Canada with Debut Atlantic in March 2022.
WHOM WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE THANKS TO?
I would like to give thanks to my family, who have supported me throughout my career, including my late mother, who taught me the importance of tenacity and fueled me with calm confidence. I would like to thank also my teachers, Roddy Elias, Dr. Garry Antonio and Dr. Jeffrey McFadden, who taught me without reserve and who supported me (and still do!) during my development as a concert artist.
IN WHAT WAYS ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE’S LIVES THROUGH YOUR MUSIC CAREER?
I’ve actually been told that my performances heal the wounded spirits and broken hearts (true story!).
I personally hope it is making a difference, especially for the younger generation, and for those who are from the Middle East (being originally from Jordan) who are told that music can’t be a career and that they should pursue some other field despite their apparent talent in music.
I also hope that my music career is spreading peace and hope in general, through teaching especially. To inspire confidence in students to believe in themselves is something priceless, in my view, and I sincerely hope I am doing that!
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