Our History

Music with Refugees was founded in January 2016 as a response to the refugee crisis in Europe. Many people feel isolated and lost, having left their war-torn homelands and often the families, and made incredible journeys to places of refuge. Hearing their own musical languages makes people, who may not have heard them live since they fled for their lives, feel met, welcomed and more at home. It is difficult to rationalise why it has such a powerful, positive effect on people, without going into the psychology behind ‘critical period’ music and our emotional attachment to it, but it really is extraordinary how people respond. The are still thriving folk singing traditions in many of the countries and cultures from which these people are coming and the songs they used to sing together during happier times mean a great deal to them.

Hearing familiar and much loved songs in the context of a host country or in transit, brings feelings of nostalgia and joy to lives full of turmoil, grief and pain, and to members of the local community who welcome them and bear witness to their suffering. We would like to give more regular concerts and workshops for refugees in Germany, Greece and throughout Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean area, offering offering mixed programs of Arabic and German Artsong, with some Kurdish music and Qawwali. We work with local and refugee musicians to try and offer something for everyone and give opportunities to displaced musicians, many of whom are without their instruments, to get back into performing in order to continue this much needed work within their communities. Your generous support will enable us to continue and expand our work, reaching more people, communities and countries and meeting people at every stage of their challenging journeys.

This is where the idea of ‘Music With Refugees’ was conceived.

Making Music, Building Bridges.

This is where the idea of ‘Music With Refugees’ started: At a Red Cross run temporary refugee camp in a school gymnasium in Witten, Germany.

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“This is where the idea started, in a Red Cross run temporary refugee camp in Witten, Germany. In the summer of 2015 with my colleagues Ruth Leber and Tobias Bülow. We gave a concert at the Christopherus Hof on the 6th of January 2016 with Tarek Thabet on qanun. Over 200 people showed up, half of them refugees, and they sang with us and gave us a loud, wild standing ovation. we’ll be returning there next month without new colleague, Hesham Hamra on oud before our Greek Odyssey”

Julia Katarina  ~ Founder 

‘Music With Refugees’ was formed with the basis of making music with & giving ِArabic songs & mixed program concerts for refugee communities in England, Germany & Greece to make them feel understood, valued & welcome.


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People we have worked with:

Abathar Kmash ~ Oud, cello ~ Germany

Abdurrazaqq Schwarz ~ Sax, guitar, percussion ~ Germany

Ahmad Makhzoum ~ Voice ~ UK

Floriane Dardard ~ Cello, voice ~ France

Hesham Hamra ~ Oud ~ Germany

Lama Khayer ~ Voice ~ UK

Laurence Trille ~ Percussion ~ Brazil

Les Levidow ~ Violin ~ UK

Liz Meadows ~ Guitar, voice ~ UK

Lucile Belliveau ~ Double bass ~ Germany

Mahmod Sabri ~ Voice, harmonium ~ Germany/Pakistan

Rasoul Moshar ~ Voice, oud, percussion ~ UK

Ribar Mousa Sulaiman ~ Saz ~ UK

Ruth Leber ~ Piano & voice ~ Germany

Saif Ali ~ Voice – UK

Saskia Venegas ~ Violin ~ Holland

Shadi Hlal ~ Viola ~ Germany

Sherwan Jack Qasm ~ Oud, voice ~ UK

Tarek Thabet ~ Kanun, oud ~ Germany

Tobias Bülow ~ Flutes & percussion ~ Germany

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