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Ukrainian Band Kalush Orchestra Wins Eurovision Amid Conflict


Ukrainian Band Kalush Orchestra Wins Eurovision Amid Conflict

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra received the Eurovision Track Contest within the early hours of Sunday in a transparent present of widespread assist for the war-ravaged nation that went past the music.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine’s third since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and mentioned “we’ll do our greatest” to host subsequent yr’s contest within the hotly contested port metropolis of Mariupol. He underlined “Ukrainian Mariupol,” including: “free, peaceable, rebuilt!”

“Thanks for the victory, Kalush Orchestra and everybody who voted for us!,″ Zelenskyy mentioned in a put up on Telegram messaging app. “I’m positive our victorious chord within the battle with the enemy is just not far off.″

Kalush Orchestra’s entrance man, Oleg Psiuk, took benefit of the large world viewers, final yr numbering greater than 180 million, to make impassioned plea to free fighters nonetheless trapped beneath a sprawling metal plant in Mariupol following their efficiency.

Kalush Orchestra’s tune, “Stefania,” was the sentimental and bookmakers’ favourite among the many 25 competing performers within the grand finale. The general public vote from house, by way of textual content message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British Tik Tok star Sam Ryder, who led after the nationwide juries in 40 nations forged their votes.

“Stefania” was penned by Psiuk as a tribute to his mom, however since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion it has turn out to be an anthem to the motherland, with lyrics that pledge: “I’ll at all times discover my manner house, even when all roads are destroyed.”

Kalush Orchestra itself is a cultural undertaking that features folklore consultants and mixes conventional folks melodies and up to date hip hop in a purposeful protection of Ukrainian tradition. That has turn out to be an much more salient level as Russia by way of its invasion has sought falsely to claim that Ukraine doesn’t have its personal distinctive tradition.

The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the Azovstal plant by Russians served as a somber reminder that the massively widespread and at instances flamboyant Eurovision tune contest was being performed out in opposition to the backdrop of a warfare on Europe’s japanese flank.

“Assist Azovstal, proper now,″ Psiuk implored from beneath a vivid bucket hat that has turn out to be the band’s trademark amongst followers.

The Azov battalion, which is among the many plant’s final 1,000 defenders, despatched their thanks from the warren of tunnels beneath the plant, posting on Telegram: “Thanks to Kalush Orchestra on your assist! Glory to Ukraine!”

Town itself has been the websites of among the worst destruction of the two 1/2-month warfare, as Russia seeks to safe a land bridge between separatist-controlled Donbas and Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

The six-member, all-male band obtained particular permission to go away the nation to characterize Ukraine and Ukrainian tradition on the music contest. One of many unique members stayed to battle, and the others plan to return as quickly as the competition is over.

Psiuk advised the Related Press earlier than the competition that he’ll return to a volunteer group he arrange early within the warfare that makes use of social media to assist discover transportation and shelter for individuals in want.

Whereas the assist for Ukraine within the tune contest was finally overwhelming, the competition remained broad open till the ultimate widespread votes had been tallied. And warfare or not, followers from Spain, Britain and elsewhere getting into the PalaOlimpico venue from all through Europe had been rooting for their very own nation to win.

Nonetheless, Ukrainian music fan Iryna Lasiy mentioned she felt world assist for her nation within the warfare and “not just for the music.”

Russia was excluded this yr after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, a transfer organizers mentioned was meant to maintain politics out of the competition that promotes variety and friendship amongst nations.

Again in Ukraine, within the battered northeastern metropolis of Kharkiv, Kalush Orchestra’s participation within the contest is seen as giving the nation one other platform to garner worldwide assist.

“The entire nation is rising, everybody on the planet helps us. That is extraordinarily good,″ mentioned Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old trainer.

“I imagine that wherever there may be Ukraine now and there is a chance to speak in regards to the warfare, we have to discuss,″ mentioned Alexandra Konovalova, a 23-year-old make-up artist in Kharkiv. “Any competitions are vital now, due to them extra individuals find out about what is going on now.”

Ukrainians in Italy additionally had been utilizing the Eurovision occasion as a backdrop to a flashmob this week to enchantment for assist for Mariupol. About 30 Ukrainians gathered in a bar in Milan to look at the printed, many sporting a vivid bucket hat just like the one Psiuk sports activities, in assist of the band.

“We’re so joyful he known as on serving to to avoid wasting the individuals in Mariupol,″ mentioned lawyer Zoia Stankovska throughout the present. “And we’re fairly positive they’re gonna win.”

The winner takes house a glass microphone trophy and a possible profession enhance — though Kalush Orchestra’s first concern is peace.

The occasion was hosted by Italy after native rock band Maneskin received final yr in Rotterdam. The victory shot the Rome-based band to worldwide fame, opening for the Rolling Stones and showing on Saturday Evening Reside and quite a few journal covers of their usually genderless costume code.

Twenty bands had been chosen in two semifinals this week, and had been competing together with the Massive 5 of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have everlasting berths as a consequence of their monetary assist of the competition.

Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroshnichenko, who does the reside voiceover for Ukraine’s broadcast of Eurovision, was taking part from a basement in an undisclosed location, moderately than from his ordinary TV studio.

“On the fifth or fourth day of the warfare, they shot our TV tower in Kiev,” he mentioned. To maintain broadcasting, “we needed to transfer underground someplace in Ukraine.”

Displaying Eurovision in Ukraine was vital, on-line and on TV, he mentioned.

“This yr, I believe it’s extra symbolic than ever,” Miroshnichenko mentioned.

Ukraine was in a position to take part within the music contest “due to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the resistance of our individuals,” he mentioned.

Barry reported from Milan. Vasilisa Stepanenko contributed from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

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