Rob Sbar resides in New York City. He began playing professionally at age 16, doing session work, teaching and performing as part of Philadelphia’s alternative and indie rock scene. From this early age, he established himself among the top composers/ arrangers and guitarists in the local scene. Already a well-known artist, Rob attended the National Guitar Summer Workshop, New Milford, Connecticut, to diversify his skills. There, Rob attended master classes with guitar icons Vinnie Moore, Stanley Jordan and Mick Goodrick.
After studying fine art at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Rob received a Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude, studying jazz guitar and composition/arranging as well as completing the Honors program and awarded membership into the Golden Key Honor Society at Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music. There, he studied jazz guitar with Tom Giacobetti and Ed Flanagan; jazz composition/arranging with Don Glanden, Ben Schacter and Larry McKenna; and classical composition with Matthew Greenbaum, Ph.D., Maurice Wright, D.M.A., Richard Brodhead, Ph.D. and Mark Rimple, D.M.A. Rob also conducted/arranged the School's Jazz Vocal Ensemble. Rob received a Masters of Arts degree in music composition at Rutgers University, studying with world renowned, Pulitzer Prize winning composer Charles Wuorinen. There he was awarded a Teaching Assistantship in Music Composition and Theory in his first year. Rob also studied guitar privately with Shrapnel recording artist Greg Howe and Laser’s Edge recording artist Scott McGill.
Rob also attended additional master classes and clinics in composition with Mario Davidovsky, Austin Clarkson, and George Russell as well as performance classes with Pat Martino, Jimmy Bruno, Wynton Marsalis, Max Roach, Billy Taylor, Bill Shindling, Stu Hamm, Terry Bozzio, Frank Gambale, Larry Mitchell, Andy Timmons, Adrian Legg and Blues Saraceno.
Rob’s influences range from such guitar virtuosos as Allan Holdsworth, Steve Vai, Greg Howe, Shawn Lane and John McLaughlin, modern jazz composers John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, contemporary classical composers Stefan Wolpe, Elliot Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Edgar Varèse, John Zorn, and alternative rock icons Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü), Robert Smith (The Cure) and Sonic Youth.
Rob’s commissions include composing, conducting and performing the music for a modern dance presentation in collaboration with celebrated choreographer Julia Ritter. A blend of jazz, classical and contemporary music written for a large ensemble, Rob conducted and performed on guitar. Rob also wrote, arranged and performed original music and lyrics for a United Way advertising campaign that aired on radio and television. He also was commissioned to write a modern composition for Renaissance lute, A Mosaic of Cement and Barbed Wire, performed at the Sarah Lawrence Summer Guitar Institute.
Rob’s piece, Like Giants Through a Keyhole, trio for flute cello and piano, was performed as part of the CROSS-CURRENTS IN JAZZ AND NEW MUSIC: The School and Schooling of Stefan Wolpe series presented by the Network for New Music in cooperation with the Stefan Wolpe Society. Rob was selected among an exclusive group of young composers worldwide to participate in the June in Buffalo Festival for Emerging Composers held in Buffalo, New York. There, renowned pianist Marilyn Nonken performed Rob’s solo piano piece, Aerial Surveying. Rob also attended master classes with celebrated composers Aaron Jay Kernis, Harvey Sollberger, Jukka Tiensuu, David Felder, and guitar master classes with Magmus Andersson.In September of 2002, Rob released his debut CD, Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs, on Aggregate Recordings with his band The Rob Sbar Noesis. The CD is also distributed by Fossil Records. Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs has received wide critical acclaim from such reviewers as Mike Sandomirsky who said: “Music creativity just got a kick in the ass his name is Rob Sbar. Fusion meets Jazz Rock with a heavy heaping of Prog elements all grace this superb first release from one of the world's truly creative musical innovators.” “Rob Sbar is one of the most unusual guitar instrumental composers ever to grace our presence. Not since Vai or Gambale has there been such extraordinary sounds produced from the electric guitar.” “This entire CD should send out a shock wave of epic proportions to all musician/guitarists worldwide. Rob Sbar has transcended from somewhere not of this earth delivering one eclectic mix of beautifully strange and enjoyable tunes a masterpiece of originality and technical prowess!”
Critic MJ Brady wrote of Rob Sbar: “Imagine Zappa having actually learned modern fretwork techniques from his one time kid stunt guitarist Stevie Vai, and creating a guitar driven CD of instrumental music inspired by Beefheart.” He went on to write, “This CD ventures far beyond the stigmas attached to virtuoso electric guitarists', so much so, that it really has little in common with the cluster of fretboard gymnasts that are being stamped out of the GIT factories everywhere. Rob Sbar, has much more depth of thought than to fall into such a convenient trap, his affinity for a sinister-minded creative approach makes this CD a very enjoyable piece for your aural, visual, and cerebral pleasure." Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs was also placed on critic David Cisco's list of Top 10 CDs of 2002.
Rob has been interviewed and featured in many publications and websites worldwide, including 20th Century Guitar, Guitar Chef (Italy), Guitar Mania (Canada) and many others. The Rob Sbar Noesis has also appeared on many guitar-oriented compilation CDs such as Wretched Productions/Quintessence Metal Webzine’s "Fret-Essential" Guitar Compilation CD and Virtuosos Music Compilation CD presented by Thai.net-Virtuoso, whom Rob also will be recording an unreleased track for a future CD compilation. The Rob Sbar Noesis also has contributed a track titled Transfiguring Perceptions to the Shawn Lane Remembered Volume II CD presented by Lion Music as well as a track to the Moody Blues Tribute CD presented by Mellow Records. Rob will begin a monthly column on guitar techniques for a new Asian guitar magazine, premiering in 2005.
Rob, an accomplished teacher of guitar, music theory, composition, arranging and orchestration, has developed his own personal teaching concepts and methods for improving technique and chord/scale theory for various styles and genres of music. Rob has taught privately, in music schools and at the college level and is also known as a freelance, live, studio and session guitarist, composer, arranger and producer.