Face Of Ukraine In Liverpool: The Eurovision Figures With A Unique Mission

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The Eurovision 2022 was won by Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, but the ongoing war in the country meant the 2023 event had to be moved to the UK, who came second, thanks to Sam Ryder’s performance.

The reigning champions, who will open the show, said while they were “sad” the contest was not being held in Ukraine, they were “really grateful” to the UK for hosting the contest on the country’s behalf and “looking forward to performing in Liverpool”.

“The city has a world-renowned musical heritage and we’re delighted to finally be able to announce what an honor it will be for us to be there,” a spokesman for the band said.

“We will perform for everyone in Ukraine to remind us of better days and our country’s victory ahead, as well as to show the world what Ukraine is fighting for.”

Kalush Orchestra in Austin where they were invited to play SXSW 2023

German Nenov, the creative director of Eurovision 2023

The creative director of the Eurovision-2023 competition for Ukraine was the Ukrainian director and clip maker German Nenov. He will be responsible for the visual representation of Ukraine during the show together with the BBC creative team. German told iNews that he became a Eurofan when he was still in the ninth grade. “Until today,” he tells Clash, “I never even thought that I would become the director of the Eurovision Song Contest.”

The music design of Eurovision-2023 will be prepared by Kojo Samuel, and the stage and scenery by Julio Jimede. Robert Edwards became the sound engineer of the broadcast, and Tim Routledge – the lighting designer.

“Honestly, at first I was very worried. I didn’t understand how our cooperation would take place, I didn’t know if my ideas would be heard?” says Ukrainian director German Nenov.

Kalush Orchestra in Austin where they were invited to play SXSW 2023

But already after the first joint online meetings and after the first proposals and presentations regarding the concept of this year’s Eurovision show, the director admits that he realized that this is the most comfortable collaboration in his career.

“I understand that our cooperation, mine, Suspilne Ukraine and with the BBC by studio will take place in a very comfortable atmosphere. I have never met such understanding and respect for the ideas of each team member!” says the Ukrainian director, who will be responsible for the visual representation of Ukraine at the international song contest.

“As the director and creative director of this competition, I would like to convey my ideas and my vision to the world,” adds German Nenov.

The organisers are still keeping the details of Eurovision 2023 productions a secret, but they emphasise that they can definitely create a very beautiful and authentic portrait of Ukraine and Ukrainian culture, which we will be able to see in various manifestations in the three main shows.

“Of course, in the international creative team, British and Ukrainian cultures will intertwine into something radically new and will surprise the audience,” says German Nenov, who became the creative director of the Eurovision 2023 competition for Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra in Austin where they were invited to play SXSW 2023

The director emphasizes that the entire team involved in the preparation of the Eurovision 2023 show in Liverpool, both from Ukraine and from Britain, wants to surprise the audience and give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the show from the first to the last second without spoilers.

“Being the creative director of Eurovision for Ukraine is a huge responsibility for me. I really want to change certain stereotypes about Ukraine and Ukrainian culture”.

“I want to show the whole world that Ukraine is a very modern country that is able to set trends in world culture,” says German Nenov, who became the creative director of the Eurovision 2023 contest on behalf of Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra in Austin where they were invited to play SXSW 2023

Julia Sanina, the pop star on a diplomatic mission

Sanina, who is the front woman of Ukrainian rock band The Hardkiss who opened the first semi-final, said this year’s contest was a “big deal” for her country.

“Even last year, when people were watching Eurovision from bomb shelters, lots of them were still voting and wanted to win,” she adds.

While Liverpool is preparing to host the Eurovision Song Contest, the Ukrainian and British presenters of the song contest have already had time to get to know each other.

“I had a joint photo session with Graham Norton for the Eurovision Song Contest in London. He asked for me, for my band The HARDKISS, for my country. For how Ukrainian musicians work now and what they did for the country during the war.

“He was really interested in all this. A very open and pleasant person”, says Julia Sanina, who will co-host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Liverpool.

“First of all, I am a musician, but here I will have to be a presenter, and also an English-speaking presenter. But I’m very interested in it, I always wanted to try myself in this role”, she adds.

The grand final line-up will also see performances from several of Ukraine’s previous acts, including Ukraine’s 2021 entrants Go_A, the country’s Eurovision 2016 winner Jamala and Tina Karol and Verka Serduchka, who took part in 2006 and 2007.

The BBC said they would perform during the Eurovision Flag Parade of all 26 grand finalists and would treat viewers and audience members to a “new twist on their Eurovision entries weaved with British classics”.

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Eurovision 2023 takes place on May 13th.

Words: Maiia Habruk
Photography: Elinor Jones