At lunchtime today in the City Hall of Frederiksberg in Copenhagen, there was a small official reception for the forthcoming Congratulations show, and a chance to meet the two hosts, Katrina Leskanich and Renars Kaupers, plus the Olsen Brothers and reflecting the next generation, Signe K, who was runner up in the Danish Junior Eurovision Song Contest selection a few weeks ago.
The Mayor, Mr. Mads Lebech
The reception opened with a few speeches, firstly from the Mayor, Mads Lebech, who reflected upon the Eurovision Song Contest, with everything from the fancy dresses, and compared it to the excitement of the European Championships, but with music, instead of football. How it had produced many great pop songs, and how it showed a modern Europe, with the new countries in the East beating the old timers of the West.
DR TV Director Lars Grarup
Next on stage was TV Director for DR, Lars Grarup, who stated that tomorrow night was a party for everyone, a celebration. The contest unites everyone culturally, where Johnny Logan is a household name, and the phrase douze points was known by all. Of course on a personal note he was delighted that Fly on the wings of a love had won a few years ago, and thanked the Olsen Brothers for bringing the contest to Denmark. He was extremely proud and happy to host this party, and thanked the EBU for choosing DR amongst the broadcasters that had tendered to produce this programme. DR was used to using the Forum and viewers in Denmark have high expectations of shows from there, now they will have a chance to impress viewers all over Europe.
EBU TV Director Bjorn Erichsen
Bjorn Erichsen, TV Director of the European Broadcasting Union, was next to speak to the audience, and found it odd to be addressing his fellow Danes in English, but he knew this would be better understood by eveyone. He talked about an article he had once seen in The Economist magazine, with a headline that had said something like “Where the Eurovision Song Contest goes, Europe follows” and this he felt was true, as it was over ten years ago that the countries of Eastern Europe first entered the contest, and then only last year a lot of these same countries were admitted into the EU. He also commented on a similar piece in the Washington Post that the contest plays a historic role, and has symbolic value. It is one of the only times in Europe, where we share watching a television show, although sports events are shared, this is a television programme being shared by 100 million viewers. Where the East is so eager to join and be part of the European family, that last year Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko took personal involvement. He was delighted that the EBU chose DR, because they had the best suggestion and proposal, and hopes they will be happy with the result. Its an historic celebration, and will be full of nostalgia.
The Olsen Brothers, who themselves are celebrating their 40th anniversary in show business, then took to the stage to perform two songs, the first was a revised version of Walk right back with new lyrics adapted to reflect the 50 years of the contest, incorporating the Eurovision Song Contest theme. Then, of course, there was Fly on the wings of love!
The next generation of artists were represented by Signe K, who was second in the Danish Junior Song Contest, and she sang Kære fru lærer.
The two presenters were introduced, Katrina Leskanich and Renars Kaupers. They were asked who they would vote for? Katrina couldn't say who would win, and didn't think she would be allowed to vote, and if she could it would be difficult in making her mind up. In many ways its not a fair contest, but it would be “One helluva party!”. Renars agreed saying the emphasis would be on fun and celebration. Katrina saying she wasn't nervous, she just loves doing here job, and such an event, the 50th, will never happen again. Renars wanted to thank DR for choosing us and just wait for the 100th Anniversary!
The Olsen Brothers were also asked a similar question, Niels wouldn't be drawn too much, saying it was hard, if not impossible to say, Jorgen thought Waterloo and Congratulations and Johnny Logan were all great competitors and wished all “The best of luck, and that the best song will win!. They were proud to be among the 14 best songs.
From the EBU, Bjorn Erichsen said that he would not vote, as 31 broadcasters are paying his salary, but he did have fond memories of Céline Dion's song, Ne partez pas sans moi.
The Forum was chosen as its a nice venue in the central of Copenhagen, seating about 6,000 people and tomorrow night it would have the biggest audience of about 100 million people watching, in an evening of excitement and nostalgia.