Mariela Shaker

Mariela Shaker

Violinist, UNHCR High Profile Supporter

“Fled Syria and Found Refuge on the Stage.
Mariela Shaker is singular. A virtuoso.”
— BuzzFeed.

Syrian-born Mariela Shaker began playing the violin after joining the Arabic Institute of Music in Aleppo in 1999. She graduated with distinction from the Institute in 2004 and taught violin there for five years while she completed her Business Administration degree at Aleppo University. She was able to survive the war in Syria and flee the country thanks to a full-tuition scholarship to study Music Performance at Monmouth College. Prior to graduating, Monmouth College bestowed upon her one of its highest honors: Excellence in Music Performance. Following her Bachelor of Arts, DePaul University awarded her a full-tuition academic scholarship for her Master’s in Music Performance.

Mariela served as Concertmaster for the Monmouth College Chamber Orchestra. She appeared as a solo concert violinist with the Mesopotamian Symphony Orchestra at the California Theater and organized by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), gave her debut recital at the Kennedy Center to commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20, 2015. President Obama named her Champion of Change for World Refugees and honored her at the White House in 2015. During that same year, she also performed for members of the U.S. Legislature. Her engagements in 2016 included an invitation by Cate Blanchett and the first Scottish Minister for performances in London and at the Beyond Borders International Festival in Scotland, respectively. On the invitation of the International Rescue Committee, she performed for Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. In 2017, Mariela was appointed UNHCR High Profile Supporter and was also honored with the Anne Frank Promise Keeper Award.

Her more recent performances and speaking engagements have included programs at the United Nations, the White House, Aspen Ideas Festival, Harvard University, MIT, among other high-profile places. Mariela prides herself on her mission: to use her music to build bridges, to promote peace and to raise awareness for the plight of the Syrian people. As a refugee, Mariela’s remarkable work ensures that not only her music but also her voice be heard around the world for refugees in need.

Day 1: Evening of Media and Creativity