favorite Ukrainian group in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest | Music


By COLLEEN BARRY Associated Press

MILAN — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra and its members’ folk-hip hop anthem to their war-torn nation are bettors’ favorites to win the Eurovision Song Contest, an event designed to celebrate diversity and promote diversity. friendship between nations.

Twenty-five bands will compete on Saturday in the grand finale of the annual songwriting competition. It takes place in the industrial city of Turin, in northern Italy. Last year, 183 million people watched the competition on TV.

For the Ukrainian community in Italy, Kalush Orchestra’s participation in such a popular international event puts an important spotlight on Ukrainian culture while providing a platform to keep global attention focused on Russia’s invasion and war. in Ukraine.

About 50 people created a flash mob when Kalush Orchestra appeared on an outdoor stage in Turin this week, amplifying international calls for help to get civilians and remaining fighters out of a steelworks that is Ukraine’s last roadblock in the southern city of Mariupol.

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“We see Eurovision as an international event where the presence of Ukraine and Ukrainian culture is very important,” said Zoia Stankovska, a Milan-based lawyer who helped organize the flash mob. “At the moment Eurovision is also a place where our voice is heard.”

Kalush Orchestra Entry to Eurovision, “Stefania”, was written as the singer’s tribute to his mother, but has become a national anthem since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

The song is a mix of traditional Ukrainian folk music and contemporary hip-hop elements – a trend in Ukrainian music, especially since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 – and delivers a particularly strong message against false Russia’s assertion that Ukrainian culture is not unique, Stankovska said.

The group’s success serves as a sort of boost to the morale of Ukrainians living in Italy, Stankovska said. “When such terrible things happen, having good news is something really helpful,” she said.

Italy is hosting Eurovision this year because Rome-based glam rock band Maneskin won last year’s contest. In the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Broadcasting Union declared Russia would not be allowed participation in the competition.

For Saturday’s final, 20 winners from the semi-finals held on Tuesday and Thursday will join groups of the so-called big five from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Britain.

While Kalush Orchestra is the sentimental favorite, receiving the most enthusiastic response from Wednesday’s outdoor audience, the final decision is shared between a professional jury and the public.

Ukraine had already won twice, in 2004 and 2016.

If Ukraine wins this year, Stockholm offers to host next year’s event in case the war continues then.

“It’s a way to continue to show support,” Stockholm Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “We want Ukraine to know that they are welcome to host the competition in Stockholm, if needed.”


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