In recent months the members of Kalush Orchestra have been involved in Ukraine’s war efforts — from assisting people with relocation efforts to actively participating in the country’s territorial defence. Now Ukraine’s Eurovision 2022 artists are helping the country in another way: By traveling Europe to raise awareness about Russia’s war and the humanitarian crisis Ukraine faces.
On Saturday the band performed at Eurovision in Concert in Amsterdam, singing in front of a large QR code. Prior to their performance they encouraged fans to use it to donate and to show that they stand with Ukraine.
Ahead of their evening performance, the “Stefania” singers spoke with me at the press event. They made it clear their appearance here is largely about supporting those back at home. Speaking through a translator the groups’ lead singer Oleh Psiuk said: “The feeling is that by doing what we are doing we can be of most use for our country — by doing our job.”
Kalush Orchestra interview: Ukraine’s Eurovision 2022 act
The world has seen the horrific images coming out Ukraine — including photos of tortured civilians with their arms bound and gun shot wounds to the head. I started by asking the Oleh what the world isn’t seeing but should be made aware of.
“I think that the war that is happening right now in Ukraine should not be seen by anyone, anywhere, anyhow,” he said. “So we urge everybody please help Ukraine with whatever you can do, so that nobody ever witnesses anything like this.”
Vladimir Putin wants to erase Ukraine from the map. But the band are showing that the country exists and indeed has a future. Oleh says that showcasing Ukrainian culture is an effective way of reminding the world of Ukrainians — and, to take it a step further, their humanity.
“We believe that it is very important for every Ukrainian to be able to speak up for Ukraine right now. For us it is particularly important to to represent the authentic, beautiful Ukrainian music, so that it gets an opportunity to be represented in the world market. That’s why the opportunity to represent Ukraine here at the Eurovision Song Contest is of particular importance.”
Their song “Stefania” was written before Russia’s invasion. But can it relate to the conflict in any way?
“Initially this song was written and dedicated to my mother because her name is Stefania. But later when the war started, this song has gotten additional, new meanings, and people started connecting to it in a different way because some people see it as a song about Ukraine as a mother.”
“Others are thinking about their mothers because they are missing their mothers at the moment. This song has got so much connection with people in Ukraine and I really hope that it will also be enjoyed by other people in Europe.”
For the record, their stage costumes have nothing to do with the conflict. instead they “represent different aspects of Ukrainian from different periods of its history.”
But celebrating that history — and their nation’s culture at large — remains central to their cause.
“We want everybody to remember that Ukraine is free and Ukraine is doing its free, unique music. it has something that is different — a different signature that we can bring in.”
Were you as excited as we were to see the group in Ukraine? Do you think that they will lift the trophy in Torino this May? Let us know in the comments box below.
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