Joe Harris, a musician of profound passion, walks the delicate line between the past and the present, breathing life into the forgotten masterpieces of the Baroque era. His musical journey began with studies on the violin, and eventually he discovered the lute, inspiring him to pursue formal music education with a Bachelor of Music degree from the Wanda Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, where he graduated summa cum laude, a testament to his commitment to scholarship and musical excellence.

Building upon this foundation, he pursued higher level studies at the prestigious Eastman School of Music, attaining a Master of Music degree with a specialization in Early Music, focusing on historical plucked instruments.

At Eastman, Joe had the privilege of studying under the tutelage of world-renowned Grammy-winning lutenist and artistic co-director of the Boston Early Music Festival, Paul O’Dette, and chamber music coach Christel Thielmann, among other esteemed faculty members. Here, he honed his skills in instrumental performance, music theory, composition, and music history, cultivating a deep understanding of the intricacies of interpreting Baroque music.

Joe’s musical journey encompasses a rich tapestry of performances across various ensembles and solo endeavors. From serving as a continuo player in the Eastman Collegium Ensemble to captivating audiences as a soloist in notable works such as the Johann Ludwig Krebs Lute Concerto and suites of solo lute music of Sylvius Leopold Weiss, his performances consistently showcase his virtuosity and passionate artistry. In addition to chamber music activities, Joe has also lent his talents to multiple Baroque opera productions, including Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, André Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise, and Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo, among others, leaving an indelible mark on each production with his exceptional musical interpretations.

In addition to his performances, Joe is an accomplished researcher, recognized for his insightful exploration of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s connection to 18th-century Baroque lute music. His scholarly endeavors have garnered him prestigious awards, including the Oklahoma City University Undergraduate Research Award, highlighting his contribution to the field of musicology.

Beyond the stage, Joe is deeply committed to sharing his knowledge and passion for music through teaching and outreach. As an educator, he mentors aspiring musicians in theorbo and Baroque lute, imparting his expertise with dedication and enthusiasm. Joe’s commitment to musical education extends to his engagements as a lecturer, where he shares his profound understanding and love for the instrument and Baroque music history, inspiring audiences with his insights. This dedication to teaching and outreach complements his performance engagements, allowing him to nurture the next generation of musicians and pass on the newly resurrected tradition of lute playing.

In addition to his musical pursuits, Joe has demonstrated exceptional leadership, having served as an assistant director for the Oklahoma City University Early Music Ensemble, Vice President of the Lute Society of America, and assistant to the Early Music department at the Eastman School of Music. In these capacities, he played a pivotal role in organizing performances, transcribing scores from primary sources, facilitating communication within the organizations, providing artistic direction, and spearheading initiatives to promote the appreciation of the lute and of Baroque music on a national scale.

Apart from his distinguished music career, Joe has also made significant contributions to his community and excelled in various artistic endeavors over the course of his life. In 1989, Joe was honored by the State of Oklahoma when he won the Martin Luther King Day Art Contest, recognizing his commitment to equality, justice, and social change. This prestigious award, presented publicly at the state capitol by then Governor Henry Bellmon, underscores Joe’s multifaceted talents and his dedication to making a positive impact both in and beyond the realm of music.