The Sounds of Peace

Music is not Judith Eissenberg’s whole world — it’s her way of encountering the world.

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The tragic events of September 11, 2001, gave music professor Judith Eissenberg the idea.

Could music play a harmonizing role in helping young people understand diverse cultures?

After witnessing the destruction of 9/11 and its aftermath, Eissenberg thought deeply about her own role in academia and music. A celebrated violinist and a founder of the Lydian String Quartet, she had performed in concert halls around the world. But she felt there was more she could do with music, and she knew there was great value in learning life lessons in cooperation early. Music would be her method.

In 2003, Eissenberg founded MusicUnitesUS (MUUS), a program that brings musicians from diverse world traditions to campus for brief residencies during which they visit local schools, give workshops and perform a public concert at Slosberg. Over the years, thousands of school children have come by bus to campus from Waltham, Newton and Boston for MUUS performances.

But MUUS isn’t only for school kids. Evening concerts draw enthusiastic audiences from the Boston area, and the visiting musicians join classes across the university and give workshops for Brandeis students as well. Each semester musicians arrive on campus from far and wide — India, West Africa, Argentina, Israel, Peru, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Brazil and China.

“I feel at least some element of what we do as artists should be directed at peace-building. With music, we can experience how the creative impulse can move us closer together,” says Eissenberg.