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Casey Cooper Johnson:


Music Crossing Bridges is a collection of artists, activists, and organizations gathered with the intent to put on a 3 day festival in Peje, Kosovo this coming September, which celebrates the power of art and music as expressed through many different cultures around the world. The festival will bring musicians and performing artists from several nations to the beautiful Karagac Park in Peje for a weekend of music, theater, educational workshops and cultural presentations. The aim of the Music Crossing Bridges Festival is to entertain and inspire its audience with the richness of the cultural diversity represented at the event.

This past Summer, at Peace Camp Peje, the volunteers of Balkan Sunflowers helped Albanian, Roma, Egyptian and Bosnian children to join each other in making a multi-cultural festival extravaganza. They proudly paraded through the city together, dressed in traditional ethnic costumes, and sang, on an improvised stage in the park, songs of peace from Israel, Holland and West Africa in the original languages and then in Albanian, English and Bosnian.

It was a hope filled day in which one Roma family drove their tractor from a nearby village 15 kilometers to the city park for the first time since the war to see their daughter perform. It was as if a small bridge had been built across the invisible, but real, canyon of ethnic separation which has fueled the past decade of war in the Balkans, even if only for a day.

Thus is the magic of music, to touch and to heal the human soul, pulling us beyond our known conceptions of identity and prejudice to a common place where all who have ears and hearts are together. The coming Music Crossing Bridges Festival will be created for people of all ages and all ethnicities. Artists from Germany, Czech Republic, Britain, USA, Israel, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Italy and Kosovo have already expressed interest to participate and perform.

A compilation music CD is produced in Frankfurt, Germany to raise money for the event. (Watch out for Playground Compilation 2). Music Crossing Bridges is currently working to coordinate with the Peje Municipality, local groups, and NGO‚s to establish the legal, structural and operational support necessary to make the festival possible.

Our hope is to attract a wide range of involvement from the Kosovar, as well as the international communities. Music, theater, dance, humor, painting, sculpture, film, and photography are all desired ingredients for the festival, and we welcome artists of any form to contact us about participating.

While Music Crossing Bridges is not a politically based event, we encourage activists and groups who wish to present their works or messages about important social, environmental, cultural, or spiritual issues facing society today. It is our belief that the key to human progress is committed and non-violent dialogue. Let the festival serve as a field for such open, progressive communication.

For those of you who have never visited Peje, the city is unique, with great history and personality. While, over 75% of the buildings and houses were destroyed in 1999 during the war, much has been rebuilt and restored in the past two years. Peje is tucked into the mouth of Rugova Canyon amidst a wide mountain range separating Kosovo from Montenegro. The natural beauty of the surrounding mountains once made Peje an attractive tourist stop for European travelers and mountaineers visiting the Balkans. Karagac Park, the site of the festival, is a large, forested piece of semi-wild land at the edge of the city, with great environment for several events, workshops, and displays to happen simultaneously. A newly renovated indoor theater/cinema is just around the corner and can serve as well for appropriate activities.

From the ashes of war must come something creative, inspiring, and miraculous. Please join us in our aspirations to make this happen in Peje at the Music Crossing Bridges Festival. Feel free to contact us to find out how to get involved now.

Casey Cooper Johnson, MCB Festival Organizer, 2001.

Music Crossing Bridges:

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