Laura Hassler

Musicians without borders

The concept of ‘voice’ is central to so many essential human activities.
We raise or lower our voice, literally and figuratively, to impact a conversation.
We voice our opinions—unless we live in a place where that is not allowed.
We speak about who has a voice in decision making. And there are the voiceless: those who have no say in their own destiny.

And the voice, the most human of all instruments, raised alone or together, in music.

What happens when musicians join together to bring the power of music to the voiceless?
When those who best understand how empowering it is to lift one’s voice, work to help lift the voices that have been silenced?

Founded in 1999, Musicians without Borders works in present and recent conflict regions to bring the power of music to the art of peace building. Collaborating with local musicians, Musicians without Borders uses music to bridge divides of conflict, strengthen community and heal the wounds of war. Today, MwB is one of the world’s pioneers in applying arts to peace building, with long-term programs in Kosovo, Rwanda, Palestine, Northern Ireland and El Salvador, as well as with refugees in Europe.

MwB’s founder and director, Laura Hassler, tells of the successes and challenges faced by a community of musicians dedicated to giving voice to the voiceless, bringing music to people struggling with the effects of war, and empowering musicians to be agents of social justice and peace around the world.

Musicians without Borders trains musicians with experience in community work or social activism who are interested in expanding their skills based on working principles developed from MwB’s music projects in current and post-conflict regions. The working principles are: safety, inclusion, equality, creativity and quality. For more information:

Founded by a community of musicians dedicated to social change, Musicians without Borders (MwB) has become a pioneer in using the power of music for reconciliation, community building and healing the wounds of war. MwB implements projects in conflict and post-conflict regions, develops innovative strategies in partnership with local organizations and musicians, and trains local leaders, offering paths out of isolation and despair. Based on successful projects in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Africa, MwB has developed a multi-leveled music leadership training program, and offers training to musicians worldwide to apply their art to peace building and social justice.

MwB Director Laura Hassler was born and raised in New York. From an early age, she was active in US civil rights and peace movements. She studied cultural anthropology and music, then worked for social change organizations in the US and Europe. After moving to the Netherlands in 1977, she built a career in music. In 1999, Laura mobilized a large network of socially conscious musicians to found Musicians without Borders. Today, still drawing on this ever-broadening network, Musicians without Borders is one of the world’s pioneers in using music to bridge divides, build community and heal the wounds of war.

Musicians without borders

Musicians without borders