ESC Insight

ESC Insight
24
November
2017

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Friday 24th November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Friday 24th November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20171124_516_JESC2017Friday/escinsight_20171124_516_JESC2017Friday.mp3

We’re at the point where delegations are getting their second rehearsal period on stage, and this year Tech 2 is more important than previous years, as the clips for the online voting platform will be selected from this footage.

Also on the show Lisa speaks to Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand about all things Eurovision, talks fashion with Mina Blazev, and Ewan has some strange ideas about hoverboards.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Friday 24th November

Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis are joined by Andy Smith to look back at more Junior Eurovision rehearsals, and chat to Macedonia’s Mina Blažev and the EBU’s Jon Ola Sand in today’s coverage of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

Remember to stay up to date with all the Junior Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast for our daily podcasts. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

24
November
2017

Listen Live To Junior Eurovision On Your Radio!

Listen Live To Junior Eurovision On Your Radio!

ESC Insight and Radio Six International are delighted to partner with the European Broadcasting Union again to bring you live coverage of this years Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

This will be the fourth year of live radio coverage on Radio Six International, the first of these being in Malta 2014. Eurovision Commentator Ewan Spence has anchored the show since then, being joined by a range of co-hosts including Glen Bartlett, Emma Backfish, Ben Robertson, and Sharleen Wright.

“Junior Eurovision showcases talented young performers and it is a delight and honour to share that with the world” said Ewan, “As we begin preparing our commentary booth here in Tbilisi, it’s great to be working alongside Radio Six International once more.”

Radio Six International is a long-running station based in Glasgow. The live broadcast of Junior Eurovision will again be syndicated out to a number of radio stations around the world, taking Junior Eurovision to a wider audience and giving an even great platform for these young artists to share their talents.

Tony Currie, Director of Programmes at Radio Six International said “Radio is a wonderful medium that many people enjoy, we are of course delighted that Fun Kids Radio in the UK will be taking our broadcast on Digital Radio across the country, as well as English-speaking radio stations worldwide.”

Gert Kark, Junior Eurovision Song Contest Supervisor, said “we are pleased that Radio Six International will be broadcasting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest this year, bringing what promises to be a great show to a new and wider audience.”

Your hosts for Junior Eurovision 2017 on the radio, Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis

Your hosts for Junior Eurovision 2017 on the radio, Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis

Last year in Valetta, Ewan was joined by Lisa-Jayne Lewis and she will once again be taking to the commentary booth as Ewan’s co-host for the show.

“Even though I have been closely following the Eurovision Song Contest for 27 years, I only started watching Junior Eurovision until 2015.” said Lisa-Jayne “It was such a privilege to join Ewan for the radio show in Malta last year and am thrilled to be back for the 2017 edition.”

The Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017 will be broadcast on Sunday 26th November beginning at 1545 CET / 1445pm GMT. Go to www.radiosix.com to check listings.

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2017

A Georgian Wine Adventure…

A Georgian Wine Adventure…

I’m guessing that when someone asks you where in the world wine come from your immediate thoughts go to France, Spain & Italy or maybe the countries that the wine world labels as ‘new world’, places like Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

But…

Have you ever tried Georgian wine? No? Well let me tell you about it and hopefully by the end of this, you’ll be googling your nearest specialist wine shop to get some Georgian wine in your life.

Having studied wine for many years and achieved my WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines & Spirits and worked freelance for the Decanter World Wine Awards since 2008, I was already well aware of the beautiful wines produced in Georgia and coming to Tbilisi for JESC I couldn’t resist organising a little wine tasting for some of my dear friends and colleagues in the press centre.

But first, a little history…

Georgia is proud to call itself the ‘cradle of winemaking’, claims that what we know today as a multi-billion dollar, worldwide industry began in Georgia are sometimes disputed amongst wine scholars but what is definitely known is that Georgian’s have been producing wine for some 8,000 years (long enough to get it absolutely right!) In fact wine production and wine itself is completely embedded into Georgian culture, you simply cannot separate the two.

Fortunately for us this means that if you show even the remotest interest in the wines you will become immediate friends with a Georgian. I recommend that you make friends with a Georgian who happens to be the sommelier at one of Tbilisi’s most sought after wine shops and wine academies. ‘8000 Vintages’ is named in tribute of the 8000 years of wine production and celebrates the diversity of regions, grapes and wine producing styles of Georgia.

Our special JESC wine flight…

Did you know a group of wines being tasted is called a ‘flight’? No? Well now you do!

Mtsvane

We began with a Mtsvane which is Georgia’s principal white grape variety. This one is made in the international style; it is soft and fruity with hints of apple and soft citrus fruits like lime and grapefruit, there is a beautiful fresh acidity with a medium finish, on a Eurovision scale our team gives this wine 8 points. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Albariño then Mtsvane is going to be the Georgian wine for you to try.

Rkatsiteli (Qvevri)

This is probably the second most well-known of Georgia’s white grape varieties, however this wine is made in the traditional Georgian style of viticulture called Qvevri, which is named after the clay jars used to make the wine. This is a more natural style of winemaking where the grapes are fermented in contact with the stalks, skins and seeds allowing the tannin to develop in the fermentation process and the grapes natural yeast to covert the sugar to alcohol. The wine is like nothing any of us have ever tasted before and in ESC points we give this wine a 5, not because we don’t like it, but because it’s so far off our wine radars we’ve got very little comparison. If you like more aromatic wines like Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat then give this one a go, but be prepared!

Saperavi

You cannot talk about the Georgian wine industry without talking about Saperavi which is the queen of all Georgian grape varieties. Saperavi grapes produce a highly tannic, full bodied wine with flavours of cherry and redcurrant, this one is no exception. Saperavi can be altered in the wine making process and although the red fruit flavours are there the wine that we try has been aged for 6 months in French oak barrels so there is more complexity of flavours, there are now hints of vanilla, almond and butter through the wine. We love this wine, all of us – it gets the famous 12 points and Brent enquires as to how much it would be to ship a case back to Australia, that should be recommendation enough! If you like Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon then do your best to find some Saperavi, you’ll be glad you did.

Saperavi (Qvevri)

The same grape variety but this time made in that old Georgian wine style that we had before, the flavours of cherry and redcurrants are still present but with the greener more earthy flavour that the natural yeasts bring to the wine. Again we don’t have a reference in any of our collective wine back-catalogues so find it difficult to score this, we reckon it comes out at about a 6 points, generally we prefer it to the other Qvevri style but it’s clear this style of wine does not sit too comfortably on westernised palettes. If you like more spicy aromatic reds like Carmenere and Shiraz then this might be up your street, but those are very loose comparisons.

Sweet Red

Made from Saperavi again (I told you this grape was important to the Georgian wine industry!) but this time as a sweet wine. Now, don’t get put off; if your only experience with sweet wines are a bit of cheap Sauternes from your Nana’s house believe me there is more out there to be sampled. This wine is a bit of an eye opener for everyone in the group. It has the flavours we’ve now learned to expect from Saperavi but this time the wine is allowed to keep some of the residual sugar and therefore is much, much sweeter than expected. However, don’t be thinking that it’s just like drinking syrup because there is more going on in this glass. There is balanced acidity, the tannin of the wine is giving it body and texture and the alcohol is beautifully wrapping it all in a warm finish. It’s a very well-earned 10 point from us.

There’s a whole lot more out there…

So that’s just 5 wines and the shop itself carries more than 500 different wines, which is just a fraction of what is produced in Georgia. So now to more practical matter, where can you get it. Online the Georgian Wine Society (www.georgianwinesociety.com) operate mail order within the UK, Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com) have 3 Georgian wines in their selection, however two of them are the Qvevri style and only 1 is an international dry white; other than that find your local, independent wine merchants as that is where you are most likely to find Georgian wine in the UK.

And now I’m thirsty, someone pass me that bottle please!

Categories: ESC Insight

23
November
2017

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Thursday 23rd November

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Thursday 23rd November
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20171123_515_JESC2017Thursday/escinsight_20171123_515_JESC2017Thursday.mp3

Rehearsals continue today in Tbilis’s Sports Place as we finished the first round of delegations taking to the stage. Who has a tree, who has an Ikea bedroom, and who is reminds Ewan of ‘The Wizard of Oz’?

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Tbilisi, Thursday 23rd November

Ewan Spence and Lisa-Jayne Lewis look back at a day of rehearsals at Junior Eurovision, and chat to Ireland’s Muireann McDonnell and Australia’s Isabella Clarke in today’s coverage of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

Remember to stay up to date with all the Junior Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast for our daily podcasts. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

22
November
2017

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Junior Juke Box Jury #3

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Junior Juke Box Jury #3
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20171122_514_JJBJ2017_3/escinsight_20171122_514_JJBJ2017_3.mp3

For the third and last time for Junior Eurovison 2017, it’s time for Junior Juke Box Jury and another collection of hits, misses, and maybes.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Junior Juke Box Jury #3
with Lisa-Jayne Lewis and Luke Giles

Cyprus: I Wanna Be A Star by Nicole Nicolaou.
Malta: Dawra Tond, by Gianluca Cilia.
Ireland: Súile Glasa, by Muireann McDonnell.
Armenia: Boomerang, by Misha.
Italy: Scelgo (My Choice), by Maria Iside Fiore.

Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.

http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20171122_514_JJBJ2017_3/escinsight_20171122_514_JJBJ2017_3.mp3

Categories: ESC Insight

22
November
2017

Taste Test: Hopes and Fears of Junior Eurovision Newbies

Taste Test: Hopes and Fears of Junior Eurovision Newbies

Why Haven’t We #Embraced The Junior Contest Yet?

Ellie: Ok Ross. Neither you nor I have given JESC much serious thought before, but now we find ourselves giving it a serious go for the first time. What’s your level of experience with it?

Ross: That’s quite right, barring the appearance of the winner in the main Contest in May my experience is zero. I tried to watch some 2015 Contest earlier and had to turn it off.

Ellie: I almost went to JESC in 2012 when it was in Amsterdam, but chickened out. I still don’t really know why.

Ross: I think if Ireland were to win I might go based purely on ease of getting there.

Ellie: Maybe we can talk through what is stopping us appreciating this perfect scale model of the grownup contest?

Ross: Certainly.

Ellie: I think for me, there was some discomfort that these under 15s might not be very good, and that I would feel really bad for them. I wouldn’t want to see some really young people fail hard on a big stage.

Ross: I can entirely relate to that view. One would like to think that those performers in May who may not deliver a pitch perfect performance can deal with it. Manel Navarro seemed to embrace his failure to hit the high note during Do It For Your Lover. If you had an 11/12 year old doing the same thing on the big stage they may not be able to deal with it in quite the same fashion.

Ellie: Some of these kids are really young too – last year’s winner Miriam from Georgia only had her tenth birthday the month that she performed. I think I might be underestimating some of them though – certainly a lot of the Georgian kids are stage schooled and might even have more performance experience than our pal Manel.

Ross: To be fair to Miriam I think we actually got to see just how talented she is when she appeared on stage at Kyiv. As a child I could barely muster a few words in French about what I do at the weekends and what my Dad did for a living. There she was presenting a link a show being watched by millions right around the world in perfect English. It says a lot when she showed up the actual professional television host.

Ellie: Yes, clearly we need to watch out for Miriam and her colleague Lizi Pop when they’re old enough to do the main show in May. They’re total pros. That seems to be the case for most of the young competitors, but I would want to know that the contest and delegations have some thorough safeguarding and support services for any of the young people competing.

Ross: You’d surely have to assume each delegation should be providing some kind of support network to these young ‘uns. Again, casting back to the Adult Contest in May we saw exactly what can happen when a young performer doesn’t have that level of support behind them. Poor Blanche ending up pulling out one of the performances of the night given just how much she’d had to go through. Thanks heavens for Henric von Zweigbergk. It would certainly feel exploitative of these kids if there wasn’t a proper team behind them to ensure they can handle it.

Ellie: I think the emotional risk level inherent in the situation might be part of our woolly Western European liberal problem with JESC. We’re used to kids participating in TV in a different way. I can’t think of any UK TV programs that put individual children under as much pressure as representing their country on live TV. Junior Bake Off? The Voice Kids? Maybe?

Ross: No, there do seem to be some safeguards in place in the UK TV system. I bemoaned the over 16 limit to be a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire as a child, but as an adult I can make sense of it now. We do see very young contestants competing in shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent though. I believe there is a very low age limit on X Factor but you do get kids on BGT. I can recall one or two young contestants in tears trying to perform live on Got Talent, it is perhaps these performers that have influenced me swerving JESC in the past.

Ellie: That’s certainly a troubling aspect. But maybe our JESC apprehension is less sinister than that. Maybe we don’t expect the songs to be very good?

Ross: There is that. I tried to watch the 2015 Contest earlier (picked that one for Poli, obviously) and had to turn it off after five songs. I was tiring of wincing at these poor bairns struggling to hit high notes and stretch their voices beyond what they could reasonably manage. People struggle in the adult Contest too, of course. The difference being I have no qualms with criticising them. If I were to sit there and be frank with my opinions on Junior if feel like a cruel old bully.

Ellie:  I think I am worried that the songs are either going to be maudlin Disney ballads or variations upon hideous advertising jingles. But again, I’m not giving the kids enough credit here. They’re working with professional composers & producers on their songs and I just don’t think anything truly embarrassing can make it to the stage. Hopefully?

As an experiment, I’ve just put Portugal’s ‘Youtuber’ on.  This is the only one this year I’ve seen a lot of complaining about on social media.

Wow. I was expecting it to be The Social Network Song pt 2, but it’s actually quite a nice summery inoffensive number.

Ross: You could say the exact same thing about Adult and well, less said the better. This is probably one of the key reason why Junior Eurovision has never really caught my imagination, it’s not meant. When we get down to basics, this is a children’s show for children. The television programmes and indeed the pop music made to appeal to children and early teens isn’t meant to appeal to people who are one or two decades further. Unsurprisingly music made to appeal to a younger market would very rarely find it’s way onto my Spotify.

Ellie: Children’s musical tastes are much closer to adults these days though – tweens, teens and thirty somethings can all appreciate Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Zara Larsson, etc.

Ross: That’s true, in theory they can. In practice though I’m afraid I don’t.

Ellie: This is where we might get different end results in this experiment.

Ross: It would seem so, it’ll take something fairly special to get me on side. Saying though I’d never thought I’d break down in tears to Portuguese jazz. Never say never!

Ellie: Also with the homogenisation of the child and adult pop markets, we get to another of my worries about Junior. I really don’t want to see pre-teen girls dressed like fully grown popstars. The fear of Minipops runs deep.

Ross: Here we hit another reservation we share. Something like Minipops should be consigned to the past. Another one of our shared passions also occasionally crosses this line. I have a real love for Strictly Come Dancing but once in a while for Children in Need or when they have time to fill on a results show out come the little mini ballroom dancers in full dance regalia and full fake tan. There is something inherently creepy about children dressed like adults. Many would think it cute in a schmaltzy way but I find it nothing but uncomfortable and unsettling.

Ellie: It’s just not nice, is it? I know that when you’re a kid you can’t wait to be an adult, but I hadn’t realised when I was a kid prancing around in heels and mum’s lipstick was how horrifying it looks to adults.

Ross: But, of course because they’re your parents they have to humour you. Same as paintings on the fridge or homemade calendars with painted pieces of pasta stuck to them.

Ellie: I wouldn’t want to stop young people exploring how they want to express themselves, but I would certainly want to protect them from having that recorded for TV or having it pushed on them by a delegation head.

Ross: Very much so, it’s not about stifling young creativity but it’s doing so in a safe, non-exploitative fashion.

Ellie: So how about we make an agreement that we can stop watching and go and make a cup of tea if one of the performances triggers that creeped out response?

Ross: I’ve got another issue with Junior. Adult is a party for me. When I don’t like a song it’s time for a prosecco or a beer. Junior it would be a tea and a biscuit.

Ellie: I reckon that JESC calls for proper party food. Cheese and pineapple onna stick, party rings, iced gems, pickled onion monster munch. Plus lots of candy for the Candy Music.

Ross: Also cocktail sausages, hula hoops and a Colin the Caterpillar cake. Oh and squash, lots of orange squash.

Ellie: What do you expect to get out of this experiment of giving JESC a serious go?

Ross: I would like to feel the same excitement I feel for Adult. I can accept that the music may not be to my taste and I can accept that these talented young things may not be not perfect but I want it go to the voting and feel that same slightly sick to the stomach level of excitement I feel in May.

Ellie: I wish I knew some kids that I could host that JESC party I was talking about for. I mean, I can invite you round for a cheesy pineapple hedgehog, but there would be something slightly sad about that without any kids to enjoy the show.

Ross: That could well be a fairly haunting tableau.

Ellie: Regardless of the surroundings, I think we’ll have to go in to the show with open minds. I’ll certainly find that easier to do after a couple of years backstage at the grownup contest. I find that I can’t even be particularly harsh to the most lacklustre of ESC contestants – everyone is putting so much of themselves into putting on this show, and there’s almost always something to appreciate in every routine.

Ross: And if I’m truthful with myself I am being somewhat hypocritical. Especially somewhere like the UK we spend so much time have to convince family and friends to take the Adult Contest seriously and give it a chance so they can see it the way we see it. For me to then get to November and never give JESC the same credence there is a certain duplicity at work.

Ellie: That’s so right. If I can decide to not go out on a Saturday night between January and March so that I can watch every heat of the Lithuanian national final, I can give these talented young people an afternoon of my time. 

Categories: ESC Insight

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