At Thursday April 25, 400 school children from a Syrian refugee camp and school children of the border town Ramtha, participated in two concerts organized by Merlijn Twaalfhoven. These concerts were the result of one week of 40 workshops with about 500 children. The children could experience the power of Music for gaining self-confidence through the learning of different rhythms, writing poetry and singing various songs.



Photo: Jacqueline Meijer

Friday, April 26, 2013 8:49 AM

The Jordanian society is under pressure, due to the fact that about a half milion Syrian refugees are overflowing its borders and using its water and food supply, infrastructure and education . Therefore, the contact between the local community and the refugees isn’t always good. Moreover, the organizing of education for the hundreds of thousands of children of the refugees is almost impossible.

Nevertheless, the team of 14 musicians led by Merlijn Twaalfhoven is trying to contribute to the education with their knowledge of music. The workshops were being held at two Jordanian government schools where Syrian children had an extra lesson in the afternoon. Merlijn also gave workshops to children in a refugee camp near Ramtha, in a tent which functioned as a day care centre. He learned them to make soft tones, sounds of nature and presented music made by an alt violin and a kanoun, played by the Dutch-Syrian opera singer Bassem Al Khouri.

Although this so-called Syrious Mission is almost finished, it is certainly not the last. At the end of May, a second team will travel to Jordan to continue the activities of Merlijn Twaalfhoven and the Syrious Mission. Dutch director and theatre maker Marc Oyserman will be organizing this second music mission for the children of Syrian refugees in order to keep the Dutch audience informed about this Syrian tragedy. At Friday May 17, he will organize a benefit concert a the music podium Rasa in Utrecht.

Merlijn Twaalfhoven writes a daily journal about this Syrious Mission at the website of Arts in Conflict. You can read part 1 and part 2.

The Syrious Mission is powered by you! If you want to contribute please make a donation at the website of Get It Done.



The Syrious Mission has started

About five weeks ago, Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven came up with the idea to travel to Jordan to set up a music project with refugee children from Syria. The war in Syria is constantly being broadcast on television and radios but little attention is paid to the emotional and psychological welfare of victims of the violence - particularly the innocent children.  He found a lot of support for his musical project idea amongst other musicians and the public in the Netherlands, in fact, the first team of 15 musicians have already arrived at the Jordanian/Syrian border where they are now working in schools which are overflowing with Syrian refugee children.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 12:18 PM



The Dutch team will give music workshops for twelve classes of children, resulting in a final presentation. The goal is to support the children in their personal expression of their emotions and personality. Besides musicians, a few writers (also part of the team) will focus on testimonies of memories of beauty of the homeland of the refugees and positive thoughts about their future. In this way, they want to empower the children with self esteem and use the songs and melodies they remember from their past.




In Jordan, the team of Merlijn Twaalfhoven collaborates with UNICEF that is providing the education for the children of the Syrian refugees. The activities of this so-called ‘Syrious Mission’ are taking place in two public schools in the border town called Ramtha. At these schools, Jordanian pupils are attending the morning shift and Syrian refugees attend the afternoon shift.

Photography: Liny Mutsaers

Get It Done, an online crowdfunding platform for small scale human-needs based projects, supports the ‘Syrious Mission’. Get It Done is supporting the main travel costs of the Syrious Mission by encouraging people from around the world to donate to this project.

click here to make a donation via Get It Done

Monday, April 15, 2013 5:14 PM

Get It Done is experienced in these type of projects and their distinctive way of crowdfunding has been a great success. Using the strengths of social media, being transparent about all projects and securing 100% of donations to the project itself, Get It Done really does get it done.  

As General Manager Lucie Mayer-Aull explains: “We believe in the power of social media for collecting donations, as we reach a lot of people in a very short time. On the other hand, people want to be sure that their money is well spent, so you have to be really transparent. Therefore, human-needs projects such as this Syrious Mission that we truly believe in, have to address a concrete problem with feasible solutions so donors can expect a realistic and satisfying result. That’s what Get It Done is all about.” Get It Done was founded in 2009 by Dutch actress and story-teller, Hanna Verboom.  

click here to make a donation through Get It Done
click here for more information about Get It Done

Composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven organizes ‘Syrious Music’ at Paradiso (Amsterdam), a benefit concert for the children of the large Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. Performances will be made by Merlijn Twaalfhoven, Gharib Group (Syrië), Paul Turner (finalist The Voice), Jenny Lane, Eins, Zwei & The Parallel Cinema, Theo Loevendie, My Baby, KATELL, PIET, Celine Cairo, Sytze Pruiksma, Orchestre Partout en Mulla & Mailman.

Start Concert: 20:00 pm (doors open 19:30 pm)
Entrance: 10 Euro
click here for more info & tickets
click here to donate at Get It Done


Monday, April 15, 2013 5:11 PM

Merlijn Twaalfhoven starts a creative aid initiative.

Amsterdam - April 02, 2013 - At the end of April, a team of musicians led by the Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven, will travel to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. In cooperation with UNICEF they will give music workshops to the children in the camp. By doing this, the children are enabled to share their story with each other and the outside world. These activities will culminate in a concert that will spread the voices of these children across borders, to be heard by the outside world.

With this so-called ‘Syrious Mission’, Merlijn Twaalfhoven wants to break the paralyzing silence that keeps the world from acting upon the violence in Syria. Music will be used to help children to cope with the traumas of war. It will also serve as a means to establish a connection between the Dutch and the Syrian people who are not covered by the news. “ The stories of these people in particular tell us more about the current situation than the images of smoke and ruins”, according to Merlijn Twaalfhoven. The participating musicians will cover their costs by giving (small) concerts in the Netherlands and through money raised by charity donations.

Merlijn Twaalfhoven is experienced in setting up projects in Jordan and Syria. He was triggered by a remark from the coordinator of UNICEF in Syria to start this ‘music mission’. “The emotional despair is just as urgent as the physical”, according to the UNICEF coordinator. “We know what to do for the physical needs, but we don’t have a solid answer for the emotional aspects. We truly believe that music can play a central role in this, but we don´t know how.”

Merlijn Twaalfhoven is certain about one thing: “Aid in the shape of music and personal attention cannot be stolen or sold in ways that damage the children of Syria. Especially not when it’s brought to Syria in person.”


Saturday, March 30, 2013 6:19 PM
Thursday, January 10, 2013 12:01 PM
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:19 AM

This is the lecture "Music of the Real World" that Merlijn delivered on the famous TEDx conference in Amsterdam last November:

TEDxAmsterdam: Merlijn Twaalfhoven from TEDxAmsterdam on Vimeo.

check it and leave your remarks! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 12:37 PM

Secret festival in Jerusalem with Dutch and Palestinian musicians and theatre makers


In 2009, East-Jerusalem has been proclaimed cultural capital of the Arab world by the UNESCO. The festival’s art, cultural and theatre activities have been disrupted or prevented by the Israeli authorities. Directed by Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven, 50 young Palestinians and actors have been working together with 10 Dutch artists on “Al Quds Undeground”. More than 150 performances occured in hidden places: living rooms, courtyards and rooftops. By adopting this strategy, we created space for the artistic and cultural expression of the many minority groups living in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 5:39 PM

Merlijn and the participating artists have chosen small, secret places, in order to be able to focus on and tell their very personal stories. In this way they avoid political, religious or national symbolism. One of the themes of the Secret Festival was the intimate exchange of direct contact between people of different cultural backgrounds. The aim was to make the voice of ordinary inhabitants of Jerusalem heard in stead of the the hubbub of politicians, journalists, ideologists and fanatics. The Dutch theatre makers Adelheid Roosen and Laura van Dolron were amongst the Secret Festival’s participants.

Often, the story of Jerusalem is contextualized by superhuman expectations and exalted dreams. By stressing the personal, the subtle and the ‘small’, inhabitants and artists get the opportunity to reshape their personal relationship with the city. The message is not conflict and segregation, but contact, encounter, curiosity and finally exchange.

Through art, stories, films and video portraits, the festival intended to create the opportunity for outsiders to become acquainted with a city that normally remains hidden behind walls and doors.

Where and when the performances take place was kept secret to avoid problems. Through personal networks a local audience was invited that went to each performance in small groups. The audience got the chance to make real contact with the city and the people who live there. Behind every door there was a hidden, unexpected treasure.

Read more about the project HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 10:12 AM

On March 26 2008, an orchestra comprising musicians aged between ten and fifty years of age from Jordan, Palestine, The Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Egypt and Germany performed in the King Hussein Cultural Centre in the Jordanian capital city of Amman.  

Monday, March 24, 2008 10:12 AM

The music was composed by Merlijn Twaalfhoven, and included existing Arab songs and melodies resulting from intensive collaboration between the composer and Arab musicians and singers during the compositional process.  Refugee children who had never played in a concert before prepared with workshops, and played a substantial part in the actual performance.  The audience was extremely moved and reacted very enthusiastically.  After the show, I received many positive reactions from the musicians, children and audience alike.  This experience is being incorporated into new initiatives and future projects, intended to continue creating music projects that bring contrasting cultures together.