Rex Niswander is A&R Director at GLP Music and CEO of Laughing Buddha Records.
GLP Music was founded by Niswander and Angela Jackson in order to introduce children to world languages and cultures through music. GLP's catalogue includes Coloreando, a collection of traditional Spanish children's songs featuring Marta Gomez, which won the Latin Grammy for Best Latin Children's Album in 2014. GLP's most recent release is Bahaghari, a collection of traditional Filipino songs featuring Tony Award winner Lea Salonga.
Laughing Buddha Records has released a number of albums by Tibetan artists, including Tenzin Kunsel and Tenzin Choegyal, as well as the soundtrack to Ngawang Choephel's film Tibet in Song, which won a Sundance Film Festival Award. Several Laughing Buddha releases have won Tibetan Music Awards and Parents' Choice Awards. Laughing Buddha itself was presented a Tibetan Music Award in "Special Recognition" in 2013.
Niswander wrote Visas for Life, a multimedia tribute to Chiune Sugihara (the "Japanese Schindler"), Japanese Consul in Lithuania during World War II. Sugihara saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by granting them transit visas in direct violation of orders from the Japanese government, putting himself and his family in grave danger. In association with the World Youth Leadership Network, Visas for Life had its U.S. premier in New York at Carnegie Hall and its Japanese premier in Tokyo's Kioi Hall with the support of the Israeli Embassy in Japan. Visas for Life was released by Laughing Buddha in CD format.
Niswander spent many years living and working in Asia, including Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. After graduating from the Defense Language Institute, he began his professional career as a Chinese translator for the U.S. Air Force Security Service.
He is also a graduate of Columbia Law School and received Columbia's Parker School Recognition of Achievement with Honors in International and Comparative Law. At Columbia he was a Teaching Fellow, an International Fellow and editor of both the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law and the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. He has a B.A. with honors from the University of Kansas Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. He also studied at Tsukuba University in Japan and at Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.
From 2014 to 2018, Niswander served as Chair of the Advisory Board of the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures at the University of Kansas, where he continues to serve as an Advisory Board member. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the World Music Institute and the boards of the Riverside Symphony Orchestra and the Marshall McLuhan Center on Global Communications.
He is President of the Niswander Foundation, whose projects include the John Niswander Awards for outstanding students of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Tibetan at the University of Kansas. Since the program was established in 1995, John Niswander Awards have been given to over 100 students.
Past positions include Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Language Project and service on the boards of the American Institute of Guitar and Tibet Aid.