Every act that takes the stage at Eurovision goes through its ups and downs before making it to the international broadcast, but few have had to walk the path that Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra have managed since their National Final.
The popular group have made it here to Turin with Stefania and are now ready to show the world the blend of modern rap and classic Ukrainian folk that have made them bona-fide hit-makers at home.
The original trio of performers that make up the group Kalush (rapper Oleh Psiuk, multi-instrumentalist Ihor Didenchuk, and dancer Vlad Kurochka) are joined by sopilka player Vitalii Duzhyk and vocalists Tymofii Muzychuk and Oleksandr Slobodianyk to create Kalush Orchestra. The group relishes the chance to show off their unique style, and will do so on a stage that incorporates the blue and yellow of their national flag alongside other decorative motifs that evoke traditional art of the country
Some of the members of Kalush Orchestra are dressed in traditional Ukrainian historical dress from the early 20th century: Oleh is wearing an authentic festive keptar, a vest from the Hutsul, an ethnic group from the Carpathian Mountains, and Tymofiy is in the full costume of the same traditional origin. Oleh’s pink bucket hat, however, is a more modern touch.
We’re showing off our roots, and we’re showing how to take something from the past and make it work for the present. That’s why we’ve found success at home, and we hope that we can find that sort of reception internationally, as well. We take something old, and we make it sound modern.
Eagle-eyed Eurovision fans might recognise Ihor Didenchuk, as he does double-duty as a member of Go_A, the group that represented Ukraine last year with Shum, an entry that also highlighted the blend of folk music and current genres. Igor’s advice for his compatriots in Kalush Orchestra?
The most important thing is to perform sincerely, from the bottom of your heart.
Stefania was written to honour Oleg’s mother, who heard the song for the first time when it was performed live at the Ukrainian National Final. Since then, though, the lyrics have taken on new meaning, particularly lines like “I‘ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed”.
During a time when Ukraine is facing so many difficulties, the members of Kalush Orchestra feel that they are supporting their country in a unique way, sharing their culture and language on a massive platform like Eurovision:
We feel a big responsibility, since we received permits to leave Ukraine to be here. We have a duty to be useful to our country at this moment. We didn’t have any opportunity to rehearse together for a long time, but now, we’ve gone into ‘extra mode’. We’re all very hard working, and we’re all doing what we can to make this happen. We’ve enjoyed seeing people singing our song, even if they didn’t know all the words. We really appreciate seeing people supporting Ukraine, and supporting us.
Be sure to check out Ukraine’s performance of Stefania during the First Semi Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, on 10 May.