NIU gem to walk new path


Fareed Haque playing Charango in his office at the NIU Music Building on Tuesday 5/1

By Batul Cutlerywala

DeKALB — Fareed Haque, NIU professor and decorated music performer who ties his music to his tribal connections, will retire May 11.

Haque, a self-proclaimed modern guitar virtuoso, performed his last recital Saturday and is retiring from NIU to pursue other passions in life after 29 years of teaching applied instruction in classical guitar and applied instruction in jazz guitar.

Haque said he has many different passions, like jiujitsu and martial arts, but he’s ready to travel down his next path, which could be hunting with a friend or living in China for the next three years.

Regardless of whatever path he travels, Haque said he will continue to play music.

Haque said his love for animals inspired him to pursue his musical career. His musical style draws on culture and connection to nature, and the genres and instruments he plays act as a tribal connection.

“My mother’s from Chilé, and our lives circulated around the natural life,” Haque said.

He said he tries to use his music to bring attention to tragedies, like animals’ loss of habitat because of deforestation and lack of food.

“Armadillos, flamingos, llamas, it is really inspiring because a lot of the music that I play reflects the animals that are not appreciated in society,” Haque said.

Haque said he plays mostly flamenco music, which is played on ukulele or guitar in Mexico and South America. He said flamenco music was traditionally played by gauchos, South American cowboys, sitting on animals like llamas and alpacas.

Haque said he prefers to play three styles of music: charango, flamenco and modern punk jazz. He said he hopes to go back to South America to practice on the charango, an instrument made from armadillo skin.

As an instructor who’s an accomplished musician, Haque said he’s noticed inspiration and nervousness from his students because of his decorated musical background. He said he wants his students to realize they have to work hard to gain the same level of success.

Janet Hathaway, director of the School of Music, said she has worked with Haque for the past 15 years as an assistant director, graduate advisor and in her current position. She said she acknowledges when he has concerts, composes something new or comes out with a new CD.

“So that speaks to both that he’s bringing in good students, but he’s also mentoring them really well,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway said everyone in the music department realizes Haque has a unique profile because he has an impact on classical, jazz and world music.

“Normally someone would be a specialist in one [music style], maybe two,” Hathaway said. “He’s really extraordinary for being able to perform and highly regarded in all of those areas.”

Hathaway said as the director, she is not looking to replace Haque after he retires, rather looking to fill the programs and students’ needs in a beneficial way. She said the department still has to decide if one person or a couple of people will be hired, but it will be finalized August, and the new hire should start teaching in fall 2018.

“Everyone at NIU has always been very nice to me,” Haque said. “It was a wonderful experience, and I do appreciate all they have done for me.”