Tariq Harb is one of the leading classical guitarists of his generation. After quitting his finance career at the age of 25, Harb studied the guitar with Roddy Ellias, Patrick Kearney, Jerome Ducharme, Dr. Gary Antonio, and Dr. Jeffrey McFadden. Harb went on to win a number of notable awards, including the First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the Barrios WorldWideWeb Competition, the First Prize in the Montréal International Classical Guitar Competition, and the Governor of Tokyo prize in the Tokyo International Classical Guitar Competition. Harb has toured across the world, from the Roman Amphitheatre in Jordan to the Cairo Opera House in Egypt. 

On March 16, and as a part of his Atlantic Canadian tour, Harb held a free concert at UNB’s Memorial Hall. The highly-anticipated event began at 12:05, with Harb playing a total of 13 songs sourced from a diverse array of classical musicians and composers: Bach, Joaquín Rodrigo, and Claude Debussy, as well as five of his own compositions. 

During the event, Harb made sure to engage with the audience, telling short stories about himself and his songs before each performance. He also highlighted differences in technique and style between his performances for those interested in learning more about music composition.

While listening to Harb play the guitar, I could tell that he was very much immersed in the world of music. After each song, the audience applauded with admiration, beckoning forth a humble smile on his part.  

One of my favourite moments of the concert was when Harb played a collection of his own compositions, especially Midnight and Motherland. He noted their significance in the program booklet:

Midnight is a reminder of the Grandfather’s Clock at my grandfather’s house in Gaza. It sounded on the hour even through the night, and being quite loud, it woke me up at times. The piece utilises extended techniques to create a ticking-clock effect while also investigating odd time signatures…. Motherland is a homage to my origins and to my late mother, Dr. Asma Harb. My mother greatly admired Classical Arabic music… and [this piece is] based on the Fallahi rhythm found in Arabic music….”

Motherland was the final piece of the five compositions, and after the song ended, Harb was left in tears. He excused himself backstage for a few moments before returning composed and collected; still, the audience and I could sense how emotional the performance was for him and the rest of the room. The audience once again cheered him on, and Harb picked up his guitar, smiling. That afternoon, Tariq Harb gave a heart-rending performance for all those who love and admire the art of music.

To learn more about Tariq Harb, please visit his website at tariqharb.com. If you’re interested in upcoming musical events at UNB, please visit UNB Centre for Musical Arts – Memorial Hall on Facebook.