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Music on troubled grounds

Music on Troubled Grounds (MOTG) by Swedish organisation Spiritus Mundi is a project that creates a platform for dialogue between young musicians living under conflict. Having visited the project in 2009, a few members of the Youth Advisory Group of the IMC invited the project to the World Forum on Music to expose the world the unique method and assets of the project.

Politics cannot be denied when bringing together people from conflicting cultures, but the offered platform is completely neutral. Neutral in that way that no single political motive or aim is driving the activities. Young Palestinians, Israelis and Scandinavians meet in non-judgemental environments with primarily music-making opportunities. MOTG-participants are in the first place young people with common musical aims; that by the way happened to live on different sides of a firing line. MOTG doesn’t want to normalize, things aren’t normal.

The MOTG-session at the World Forum on Music provided visitants with a chance to see nine young participants performing and to listen to their stories in a panel conversation. We got to know why and how the musicians got involved, how difficult it is sometimes to talk about their partaking back home with friends and family; how the Scandinavians see their role. We talked about how youth – possibly with music – can make a difference in the conflict situation; how taking part in the project has changed themselves as musicians and how particular songs from one of the cultures, are suddenly owned by the band as a whole.

But since the participants are musicians, much more was told through their music. With just a few slots in the past days to rehearse intensely, the best band in the world - as they call themselves jokingly - blew away everyone in the room. And you can take that blowing away literally; no one in that room couldn’t be ‘not moved’ by the sincerity and beauty of the music produced. Seeing two Israeli female singers and two Palestinian male singers singing together a song, in each others’ language, with backing and soloing of the other musicians makes you think about what music really can do for social change. What music can do to turn the impossible into the possible.


Video of the MOTG session

Photos by Vahur Lõhmus. All rights reserved.

Video by Marek Vilba. All rights reserved.


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