May 20, 2022

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The Kalush Orchestra represents Ukraine to the world: NPR

The Kalush Orchestra represents Ukraine to the world: NPR

Members of the Kalush Orchestra have been given special permission to leave Ukraine, and will return immediately after Eurovision ends. One of them remained to help defend Kyiv.

Opening Ceremony – Eurovision TV


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Opening Ceremony – Eurovision TV

Members of the Kalush Orchestra have been given special permission to leave Ukraine, and will return immediately after Eurovision ends. One of them remained to help defend Kyiv.

Opening Ceremony – Eurovision TV

Much of the world’s attention has been focused on Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February.

But the country will shine a light on a different kind of world stage on Saturday when Popular rap group Kaloosh Orchestra Compete in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final.

These parallel events are closely related, attack commander Ole Bisuk told NPR in an interview with Zoom. He said it is a great responsibility to represent Ukraine and its culture to the world, especially as Russia is trying hard to destroy it.

“We need support to show everyone that our culture is really interesting and has a beautiful signature of its own,” he said. “It exists and we have to fight now on all fronts.”

The band is relatively new, but their style and song quickly became iconic

The Kalush Orchestra has become a staple in this year’s competition, thanks in large part to its members. Unique outfits, dance moves and woodwind skills.

Her song “Stefania” combines the beats and the popular chorus. Psiuk wrote it about his mother before the war, but it has since taken on a new, more patriotic meaning.

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“A lot of people are starting to realize that Ukraine is my mother,” he explains. “And in this way the song was very close to the Ukrainian people.”

Psiuk explains that the band’s unique style is found not just in their music, but “in our images, in the concept, in whatever we do.”

Mixing modern streetwear with traditional wear, from embroidered jackets to Psiuk’s signature pink bucket hat, the six-man band features Ukrainian woodwinds such as the sobelka and telanka.

While the current iteration of the band has only been around since last year, its roots go back to a three-person rap group called Kalush, which Psiuk helped found in 2019. It is named after his hometown in the western region of Ivano- Frankivsk.

The Psyuk family is still there. In his few spare moments between rehearsals and interviews, they tell him about the missiles that were flying overhead.

“It’s like the lottery,” he said. “You never know where it will happen, so… we are very concerned.”

The Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine sings “Stefania” during rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy on May 9.

Luca Bruno/AFP


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The Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine sings “Stefania” during rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy on May 9.

Luca Bruno/AFP

Musicians fight for their country both on and off the stage

All members of the squad are men of fighting age, and they had to obtain temporary permits to leave Ukraine to participate in the competition in Turin, Italy.

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One of them, Vlad Koroshka, or MC Kylymen (which translates to CarpetMan) chose to stay in Ukraine, where he was helping to defend Kyiv.

Bisuk said the other musicians will return as soon as the Eurovision contest ends.

He plans to return to the volunteer organization he started called “De Ty” (which translates to “Where Are You”). Nearly 35 volunteers coordinate things like transportation, medicine and accommodation for people across Ukraine, who submit requests via the Telegram channel.

Psiuk said that while the band is unable to focus on creating new music at the moment, it is already working.

What does Eurovision win mean for Ukraine

Psyuk hopes the band will return to Ukraine as Eurovision champion, adding that any win would help lift the country’s morale.

“I would like to convey some good news to Ukraine, because it is good news [hasn’t] He has been in our country for a long time.”

He’s encouraging fans watching at home to cast their votes on Saturday’s finale and show off the band’s music to their friends. He hopes that their support for Ukraine will not end once the songwriting competition ends.

Busyuk said it’s important for people to attend peaceful gatherings, post on social media, and continue to raise awareness in other ways.

“The more people talk about Ukraine, the faster the war will end and not start in other countries,” he said, adding that he was grateful for the support his country has received so far.

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It is customary for the country that wins Eurovision to host the following year’s competition. Do you believe that this could happen in 2023?

He said emphatically, “Yes.” “I am sure that Ukraine will host Eurovision, and will gladly do so in a reconstructed Ukraine, full and happy.”