The Eurovision 2020 slogan “Open Up” suggests that everyone is welcome in The Netherlands. And now The Jostiband Orchestra wants to illustrate the point on the song contest stage.
The Jostiband is an orchestra that consists only of musicians with intellectual disabilities. With around 140 members, it’s thought to be the largest orchestra of its kind in the world. The group breaks down barriers to music that people with intellectual disabilities often face. Founded in 1966, it’s had great success teaching people to read music by using colours.
The group says it “does not think in terms of limitations, but in possibilities.” That positive attitude — and a real ability to make music — has made them a bit of a hit. They play multiple concerts every month. Most of their gigs are in the Netherlands, but they frequently travel abroad.
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The group recently teased their interest in singing at Eurovision with a short video entitled “Open up to the Jostiband” — a cute play on the ESC2020 slogan.
In the video the orchestra’s leader explains their motivation this way: “By becoming part of Eurovision 2020, we can tell the world that people with disabilities are capable of making music.”
The video starts with the group performing the Eurovision theme “Te Deum”. But the orchestra gets interrupted while playing and are told that they have to go to Ahoy — this year’s ESC venue — to play the song there. They then scurry off with their instruments through Rotterdam.
The narrator ends the video with the message that it’d be great if the Jostiband could play a role at Eurovision 2020.
A performance by the Jostiband would fit the theme of Eurovision 2020 well. The group embodies another aspect of the diversity and mutual respect that organisers want to embrace. And it’d be a beautiful gesture.
Producer Sietse Bakker says the following about choosing this year’s theme: “We have looked for a theme and slogan that reflect what the Netherlands stands for and which the Dutch can identify with; a country with an open mind to the world, where we speak our mind, with respect for each other.”
“We also found it important to choose a theme that reflects the spirit of our times. People are concerned about increasing polarization and freedom isn’t as self-evident for everyone as it should be. With the slogan ‘Open Up’, we warmly invite people to open up to others, to different opinions, each other’s stories and of course to each other’s music.”
There’s precedent for similar performances. During the second semi-final of Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv, Shalva Band delivered one of the most memorable and emotional interval performances of recent memory. The band consists of eight people, all of whom have a physical or developmental disability. Both of its lead singers are blind and two other band members have Down’s syndrome.
Back in 2015, the Finnish band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät participated in Eurovision. Three of the group’s members live with Down’s syndrome, while the guitarist and bandleader is autistic. It was the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest that a group with developmental disabilities competed at the contest.
Regardless of whether you’re into their head-banging sound, you’ll likely remember PKN for bringing punk to Eurovision. They also brought the shortest song in Eurovision history, with “Aina Mun Pitää” clocking in at just 90 seconds. Despite their last place in the semi-final, this band received well-deserved respect for opening people’s minds.
The Jostiband is currently awaiting an invitation from the organization to be invited as an interval act in Rotterdam 2020. It’s not yet known when NPO/AVROTROS will formally invite interval acts.
Would you like to see the Jostiband perform during an interval of Eurovision 2020? Let us know in the comment section down below!