The Kosovo war left the city of Mitrovica divided. Albanians live south of the river Ibar, Serbs to the north, almost completely isolated from each other. Musicians on both sides of Mitrovica tell the same story: Mitrovica’s rock heritage had been decimated by the conflict, and largely replaced by nationalist turbo-folk. The idea was born of a rock music school, to be shared by youth from both sides.
Since 2008, the Mitrovica Rock School has connected some 1,200 youth through music. In 2018, two rock schools in North Macedonia joined the Kosovo musicians of Mitrovica Rock School in Music Connects. This project delivers thousands of music activities to Serb, Albanian, Macedonian, Roma and other youth.
Our first success towards founding the school was a summer camp on ‘neutral territory’ in Skopje, in neighboring North-Macedonia. In just 8 days, ethnically mixed bands worked with local musicians and trainers from Fontys Rockacademie towards a beautiful concert in the city park. Just two months after the Summer School, in 2008, the school opened.
Mitrovica Rock School now works on both sides of the city, bringing back a rock music tradition that’s been a source of pride for everyone in Mitrovica. The school connects Serb and Albanian teenagers through mixed bands, and supports their self-expression through modern pop music education. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with Fontys Rockacademie, who to this day partner with us by sending both teachers and students to Mitrovica and Skopje to exchange knowledge and experience.
These days, bands no longer have to go to Skopje to work together. Along with regular rehearsals and mixed workshops, we organize training weeks for mixed bands, and over the past two years, we’ve worked to make our dream of a professional studio in the school a reality.
This project not only expands the Mitrovica Rock School’s audio engineering program, but also gives more attention to songwriting and band-coaching. This work improves the process of capturing all the wonderful music being made by the young musicians.
Music Connects includes the start up of Roma Rock School, integrating Roma youth in Macedonian society, and mixing elements of traditional Roma music with rock music. It also promotes multi-ethnic music education to Music School Enterprise.
The three schools come together regularly for training weeks, and once a year for the project’s high point: the Skopje Summer School. During this week, ethnically mixed bands write, rehearse and record songs together, culminating in a huge public concert in the city park.
Video production house Hatched-MV is producing a feature documentary on Music Connects, as an audiovisual testimony to the power of music to connect people across divides. During the 2.5-year Music Connects project, Hatched-MV will film crucial events in the project’s development. The feature documentary is planned for release in 2020.
Proximity Mine’s new music video, recorded in Vienna and directed, filmed and produced for the Mitrovica Rock School by Hatched-MV: hatched-mv.com
Mitrovica Rock School kicked off its anniversary year with our tenth annual summer school.
Music video ‘Fantasy’ by ethnically mixed band Rootless, a high-energy dream team formed by highly talented, long-term students of our Mitrovica Rock School.
Neverland, a mixed Mitrovica Rock School band, recorded in May 2017 at the Mitrovica Rock School.
Mixed band Proximity Mine are from Mitrovica (Kosovo), a city completely divided by war. They are setting an example to their generation, and they need your help.
Proximity Mine, a mixed band formed by students of the Mitrovica Rock School, recorded January 2017 at the Mitrovica Rock School.
Acoustic version of Battery by mixed Mitrovica Rock School band Sublime 6. Sublime 6 was formed in 2013 under the Rock School’s Ambassador Band Program.
Acoustic version of Fire by mixed Mitrovica Rock School band Akasha
The 2016 Summer School for ethnically mixed bands organized by the Mitrovica Rock School, August 21 to 28, 2016.
Live recording of Proximity Mine, an ethnically mixed band formed in August 2016 by students of the Mitrovica Rock School.
Live recording of High Frequency, an ethnically mixed band formed in August 2016 by students of the Mitrovica Rock School.
The 2015 Remix Band Camp of the Mitrovica Rock School, where students from the Rock School’s north and south branches worked in ethnically mixed bands and wrote, recorded and performed their own songs.
Music video of ethnically mixed Mitrovica Rock School band The Suck of Psychotic
Music video of ethnically mixed Mitrovica Rock School band Astral Dreamers
At the 2014 Ambassador Band Camp, four ethnically mixed bands from the divided city of Mitrovica, Kosovo, came together in neighboring Macedonia to write, record and perform their own songs.
Rock School co-founder Wendy Hassler-Forest of Musicians without Borders speaks at TEDx Tirana about what it has meant to set up an inter-ethnic rock music school in a town as rigidly divided as Mitrovica.
The Rock School’s first Ambassador Band, the Artchitects, was formed in 2011. After a one-year break in 2012-2013, they got together again in August 2013 with a brand new sound. Let It Go was the first song written after the band regrouped.
Sublime 6 was formed in August 2013 and immediately faced a set-back when two of its members left the band. The band got back together in November 2013, with a new drummer and now only five members, and continues to this day writing and performing under the name Sublime 6.
From August 25 to September 1, four Ambassador Bands of the Mitrovica Rock School rehearsed, recorded and performed in Skopje, Macedonia. Schism, Sublime 6, the Toe May Toes and the Artchitects came together to finish songs they wrote in Mitrovica.
Every year since 2008, the Mitrovica Rock School has brought young musicians from north and south Mitrovica together at the annual Skopje Summer School. At the Summer School, students work in mixed bands towards a big concert in the Skopje City Park.