The honour of opening the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 semifinal belongs to Austria, and if they had their way it would also be a great song to be performed at the end in this year's contest, as the winning reprise on Saturday 21st May. Before that dream can be realised they have several rehearsals to get through as well as qualification from the semfinal.
This year there is a big attempt to keep the timetable on schedule, and that the delays of last year in Istanbul will not be repeated. Right on time at 9.30am the Austrian group Global.Kryner took to the stage for the first sound checks with their song Y asi.
Meanwhile the first journalists to arrive in the hall were taking in the atmosphere of the venue and discussing the stage setting, and were generally providing favourable reaction. As in recent years it is increasingly relying on video effects to impress the television audience. For Austria the video effects are mainly old movie reel footage played on the various screens, including on the expanding columns at the side of the stage. The reinforced glass floor was best seen when watching the large screens showing the camera output.
Following the sound checks, it was the first run through of the song with the six group members, lead vocalist Sabine Stieger, Sebastian Fuchsberger on trombone and who also provides the yodelling, Christof Spork on clarinet, Anton Sauprugl on accordion, Karl Rossman on trumpet and Edi Kohldorfer on guitar.
As is customary on rehearsals at this stage, the performers were dressed casually, but with their performance shoes on, and they brought their costumes along on hangers to test for lighting. Sabine's outfit could clearly be seen as a white top with a red dress, the traditional Austrian colours.
During one of the breaks the group performed a completely different song for the audience, probably just to prove that they could play all the instruments. They managed a total of four complete performances of the song, before they had to make way for Lithuania.
Shortly afterwards they held the first press conference of the day. As is by now customary at these conferences, there was more singing than actual questions being answered from the floor. They started by singing the song Funky town as their own tribute to the city of Kyiv.
The head of delegation introduced the group, and Christof Spork, who is the founder of the group and composer of the song Y asi introduced his fellow group members, and expalined that Sabine Stieger, who was the most important member of the group only joined them five months ago.
He further went onto explain the concept of the group, the idea of mixing alpine music, which is what they normally play, along with pop, providing their traditional music and a combination of Cuban music.
They were asked about their choices of songs on their album last year, and on their new album out on 23rd May. It was a combination of songs that each of the group members liked, with a mixture of songs composed by the group, and features covers of songs by artists like Madonna, Britney Spears and Robbie Williams amongst others, though more and more they want to concentrate on their own songs.
“How about including influences from Asia or Africa? “ asked one journalist, they replied that as they had only just finished their second album, which was a lot of hard work, that maybe by the time they reach their thirteenth album, they might include some Chinese music!
They had promoted their song in Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands, but regretted that they hadn't time in their tight schedule to promote the song in Spain, which may have been the most obvious country to perform the song, but their diary was already full.
The press conference concluded with a photo opportunity for the assembled journalists.
Austria are next due to rehearse on Saturday 14th May at 11.00am, and will open the semifinal on Thursday 19th May.