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Balkan traffic! 2023 festival set to showcase Kosovo’s brightest musical talents

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Organized for the first time more than 15 years ago after the meeting of the Belgian Nicolas Wieërs and the Kosovo Ilir Sefa, the festival takes place from April 27 to 30 in Brussels.

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This year, the Balkan Trafik! The festival celebrates its roots. Taking place at the end of April in Brussels, Balkan Trakik! is expected to feature many of Kosovo’s brightest musical talents.

First organized more than 15 years ago after the first meeting of its creators, the Belgian Nicolas Wieërs, and Ilir Sefa, from Kosovo, the festival describes itself as “a platform for cultural diplomacy” and the meeting place creative minds from South-Eastern Europe. and Brussels.

Balkan What! : Highlighting Balkan talents

The first episode of Balkan What!, a documentary produced by the festival, highlights some of the region’s brightest talents.

Speaking to Cult at the screening of the documentary in Pristina, Kosovar rapper and Albanian-language rap pioneer BimBimma explained how he uses music to speak out against social issues and injustices.

“Music is life because everything in life is rhythm. And with rhythm, I chose to make poetry and to use my words as a weapon to fight against injustice, to fight for justice, for equality, against corruption and social issues like that, because mainly Kosovo is a poor country and in 20 years its growth could have been much higher than what you see here.”

From modern and contemporary to traditional, there is only one (dance) step at hand. The national traditional dance troupe of Kosovo, “Shota”, has 45 dancers and musicians and tours all over the world.

The troupe’s star dancer, Besnik H. Grajcevci, explained that the troupe is an integral part of the culture and identity of Kosovo’s majority Albanian population.

“It is no coincidence that we are known in the Balkans as the most enthusiastic, energetic people, with strong internal dynamics and with a lot of emotions. That is why our dances have characteristics. As “As human beings, with our bodies, our inner emotions and our clothing – we act and speak in our own world,” he said.

Unite through rock

In Kosovo, the unique multi-ethnic rock school Mitroviça brings together young Serbian and Albanian musicians from the ethnically divided town of Mitroviça.

Band teaching at school focuses on communication, collaboration, compromise and ownership during the process of creating original music: valuable skills that can be applied both internally and outside the rehearsal room.

This approach was adopted by the Roma Rock School in North Macedonia in 2018, which welcomes young Roma musicians into its doors. Rockers fuse alternative music with traditional Romani melodies to create Romani rock songs.

Their common goal: to rock and play hard!

“Rock and roll has always been popular music, rock music has always been represented in the region of former Yugoslavia, so it was always a big thing and also a subculture in a way” , said Emir Hasani, project manager at the Mitrovica Rock School.

“We try to incorporate traditional Roma music into it, you can hear the sound of traditional Roma music,” Alvin Salimovski, project manager at Roma Rock School, told Cult.

This year, Balkan Trafik! The festival will host bands formed by musicians from Mitrovica Rock School, Roma Rock School and Dutch Fontys Rockacademie.

Balkan Brass

When we talk about Balkan music, we must not forget the famous brass bands.

The headliner of the festival will undoubtedly be the Dzambo Agusevi Orchestra, also known as The Funky Tiger, one of North Macedonia’s favorite artists.

The multi-award-winning Dzambo developed his unique trumpet style and distinctive sound, strongly rooted in his Roma heritage.

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Balkan traffic! takes place in Brussels and Namur in Belgium from April 27 to 30.

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