Rehearsals for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest are in full swing in Sofia. 17 countries are taking part this year, and it's the first time BNT (Bulgarian National Television) are hosting the contest which takes place on Saturday 21 November. What’s the experience like for the 17 delegations who are accompanying the performers?
On Day 3 of rehearsals it’s very busy backstage. This is the crucial time when routines are finalized, camera shots pinned down and delegations spend time in the “Viewing Room” – a space to work closely with the technical crew to define their ultimate performance.
So why does this event matter for the broadcasters who take part?
For Juliana Toncheva, Head of the Bulgarian Delegation, it’s very simple: “What makes it important is that the contest is bringing the children of the world together. It shows them that they are no different from each other, and that means that they will realize there is no difference between them when they are grown up.”
“And for the young people watching it, they want to be like the contestants, be part of their lives and they then want to follow what these star kids do. So this will have a huge influence,” she added.
This is a sentiment shared by Natia Mshvenieradze, Head of the Georgian delegation: “Young people are very excited about Junior Eurovision, they’re following us and want to know everything that we’re doing.”
For other delegations, Junior Eurovision also brings great access to a level of production and experience which they can’t easily find elsewhere.
Elton Zarb, who has composed Malta’s entry explains why: “It’s an opportunity to put the children on a big stage. In Malta the opportunities are small, so this gives them access to an international stage… and we just love Eurovision.”
And for Ireland’s voice coach, Michel Durham, who works mainly in the theatre, it’s again a great opportunity: “Eurovision is a leader in design, and this is just on a different scale. It’s enormous. And we are taken care of very well with the focus totally on the children.”
For the families of the young perfomers Junior Eurovision is also an exciting experience.
Alyson Banks, mother of Ireland’s contestant Aimee, perhaps expresses what all the parents feel in Sofia: “For me, you always want your children to have their dream, but I never thought she would have it so early. This opportunity is great for her. Here she is, just 13, and her dream has already come true.”