Foreign language clubs show off musical talents at BYUrovision

Maren Kennedy and Mckay Kimball are the masters of ceremonies at BYUrovision. Kennedy helped plan the event with other language clubs. (James Hoopes)

BYU students gathered in the Varsity Theatre for the first-ever BYUrovision concert on Nov. 3.

Modeled after the famous Eurovision international songwriting contest, the event was hosted by the French Club. Maren Kennedy, president of the French Club, and Mckay Kimball, a member of stand-up comedy club Humor U, were the masters of ceremonies. 

The show opened with prelude music from BYU’s Celtic Folk Ensemble, playing classic Scottish and Irish folk tunes. 

BYU’s Celtic Folk Ensemble kicked off BYUrovision on Nov. 3. The group played the accordion, mandolin, harp, violin, guitar and flute for the foreign language clubs’ event. (James Hoopes).

Kennedy and Kimball then explained what Eurovision is and highlighted last year’s actual Eurovision winner, the Ukrainian group Kalush. 

A study by Ipsos shows that Americans are markedly less aware of the international music competition compared to other nations, with only 21% of respondents having even heard of it. BYUrovision provided an opportunity for BYU’s language clubs to collaborate and bring a new cultural experience to the campus community, Kennedy said.

The participants performed their pieces in front of a projected flag or landscape of the country they represented. France and Germany had three participants each, Italy two, and Portugal, Russia, Norway and Iceland one.

Lahren Wadswath of the Italian club said she had a lot of fun watching all of the performers. “I’ve never felt more cultured,” Wadswatch said. “I wasn’t planning on coming. I’m really glad I did.” 

Some performances sang to karaoke tracks while others brought live bands. Trevor Smith and Wyatt Brown from the French club took third place, with Smith playing piano and singing “Camps Elysees” while Brown rollerbladed in the aisles and onstage. 

Italian Club member Eliza Tuinei said, “I was actually super impressed by the French pianist and rollerblader. He had an amazing voice.”

The Italian Club representatives, Rod Ugayo on the accordion and Kelsey Nay on vocals, took second place.

The first-place winner of the night went to Iceland. Local Provo band Just Khaki accompanied singer Hanna Eyre as she sang “Husavik,” a song from the film “Eurovision Song Contest.” 

The Iceland team won some French cheese and took home a trophy, which Kennedy said would sit in the Icelandic and Norwegian language department until next year when the contest will hopefully be held again.

Audience member Abbie Overson said she was curious to see who would win next year. “There’s a bit of a rivalry between the French and Italian clubs,” she said. 

Kennedy said the idea is that the program will happen every year, with hosting responsibilities switching between clubs. “As long as everyone wants to do it, we’re going to keep doing it,” she said.  

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