Music Connects performs in Brussels at Balkan Trafik 2023
A blog by Mitrovica Rock School student and communications assistant Erjona Sylejmani
This year, students from Mitrovica Rock School, Roma Rock School and Fontys Rockacademie have formed three-school supergroups to perform at the Balkan Trafik Festival in Brussels, playing a mix of original material and new versions of Rock School classic. The 13 young musicians traveled to Belgium for a week of rehearsals, exploring the city, and of course their concert at the festival.
We talked with Mitrovica Rock School students Emin, Mihajlo, Emir, Rita and Dusan, who performed at the festival, and asked them what the week was like.
“It was my first time in Brussels. It was amazing, I got to see a different style of living and meet new people and musicians” says Emin, who plays guitar.
Mihajlo adds to this, explaining that it was his first time leaving the Balkans. “Everything about it was new for me, the flight, the atmosphere of a foreign place, and all the different people there. It was a really interesting and fun experience”
For most of the students it was the first time in Brussels. They describe how they loved the different style of living. It was a beautiful experience to mix the cultures together without judgement. Hearing about one another’s cultures and totally vibing with it and mostly how easily they adapted to Brussels. The group felt comfortable expressing their music taste: some students have gotten negative reactions to them liking metal and rock music before, but this was definitely not the case in Brussels. Finding other people that love it too made them very happy.
“I really enjoyed the rehearsal space. It was a small music club where jazz bands play, and they host a lot of dance classes too” says Rita.
During the week, the students befriended their fellow musicians from Skopje and Netherlands. They felt understood, and had lots of fun – especially during the rehearsals and on stage. They all felt relaxed and confident on stage, free to show what they had worked on during the rehearsals in the days leading up to the concert.
“It was amazing to see these great musicians being so relaxed, friendly and cheerful” says Dusan.
“It was a pleasure to have all these different cultures in one band,” Rita says, referring to the supergroups having Albanian, Serb, Roma and Dutch band members.
The students participated in a masterclass with ROJAZE, another Creative Europe project connecting musicians across Europe. Because ROJAZE works with jazz musicians, and Music Connects with rock music, it was very interesting to play a completely different style of music.
“It helped us reflect on where we are in terms of skills – if we were capable of picking up this music during the masterclass!”
We asked the students: ‘What’s something you’ve learned that you’ll never forget?’
Emir has a straight-forward answer for us: “When on stage, always have fun”
Rita chimes in with a similar sentiment: “Just enjoy the moment!”
Mihajlo learned that when playing in a bigger band, less is more “If you’re playing with a lot of different instruments, simplicity is the key, giving room for everyone to show what they can do.”
“I learned how to be more relaxed during concerts! It helped me a lot to play in this band, and will make a big difference for me in the future,” says Dusan.
Curious about the performance at Balkan Trafik? Check out the video now!