Kalush Orchestra armed with Ukrainian culture | War in Ukraine

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Kalush Armed Orchestra of Ukrainian Culture | War in Ukraine

Discovered outside Ukraine by winning the Eurovision Song Contest last year, the musicians travel the Europe and North America to share their culture and collect donations.

The Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2022.

PARIS – It took shortly after the start of the concert, in a small round room in the northeast of Paris, so that the cry Slava Ukraini (glory to Ukraine) resounds on stage and in the crowd.

The members of Kalush Orchestra, dressed in traditional costumes and some of the pink hat that is now the group's trademark, follow the songs in Ukrainian, with their own eclectic style.

Their music is quite unique in mixing folklore, hip-hop and rap, describes Vincent, a French amateur who only discovered this formation very recently. I didn't know them before Eurovision, that's for sure, he confirms.

This popular song contest, watched by over 160 million viewers last year, was a milestone in Kalush Orchestra's journey, according to Tymofii Muzychuk, who sings and plays the tilinca, a type of flute.

Eurovision was a very big platform that allowed us to perform more abroad and show our Ukrainian song and culture to the world, he explains.

The members of Kalush Orchestra have been performing concerts abroad for a year, like during this performance in Germany in November 2022.

May 14, 2022, in Turin, Italy, Kalush Orchestra won the competition after presenting their song Stefania. Since then, the musicians have multiplied concerts in Europe and North America to present their songs which deal with themes particularly related to family, Ukraine or its culture.

“I think that not only us, but also every artist who performs abroad are showing Ukrainian culture, which they [Russians] are now trying to destroy.

—Tymofii Muzychuk, member of Kalush Orchestra

The members of Kalush Orchestra, all of fighting age, have obtained special permits to leave Ukrainian territory. With martial law in force since the beginning of the Russian invasion, all men between the ages of 18 and 60 must, with some exceptions, remain on national territory.

Some relatives are at war, therefore in danger. We constantly think of our family and friends, says Tymofii Muzychuk, who nevertheless adds that he and his comrades “have an important mission” to accomplish.

The group, originally founded in 2019 in the small town of Kalush in western Ukraine, raises funds which are distributed among other things to the armed forces.

Since the beginning of the war, the musicians claim to have amassed 60 million hryvnias, the Ukrainian currency, the equivalent of more than 2 million Canadian dollars.

For its concert last week in Paris, Kalush Orchestra brought together an audience made up of French and Ukrainian nationals settled or refugees in France.

Then, of course, there is this sharing of Ukrainian culture, central during the group's concerts. During the songs, giant screens also show photos of Ukrainian landscapes, but also shots of buildings destroyed during the conflict.

This small bubble of Ukrainian culture, in the heart of Paris, has attracted many members of the diaspora, settled in the French capital.

I was already abroad when the war started, and it was very difficult for me, explains Maxim, who carries on his shoulders a huge Ukrainian flag. For this long-time Kalush Orchestra fan, attending this concert was a very special moment.

A feeling shared by Tatiana, who, like 100,000 other Ukrainians, arrived in France as a refugee in the past year. A life she describes as sometimes very tiring.

For this young woman who has not had the opportunity to return home since the start of the conflict, these few hours spent in the company of musicians, who have almost become ambassadors of the country, was like coming back to Ukraine.

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