16 January 2023 | St Albans, UK [Dejan Stojković with tedNEWS]
For the third year in a row, the Trans-European Division’s (TED) Youth Ministries department hosted the now annual “Vision Song Contest” on Saturday evening 7 January. Hailed as a post new-year celebration for many TED – located far and wide from Norway in the north, to Greece in the south, Iceland in the west, and Cyprus in the far south-east, this virtual event is now firmly embedded in the Youth Ministries calendar. But as is frequently the case in the digital world – there are no borders – with viewers also connecting from the Middle East, Rwanda in Africa, and Venezuela, Peru and Argentina in South America.
The programme, broadcast on multiple TED channels, enabled viewers to not only to view the event but vote for their favourite songs. This year twelve entries were submitted into the final, having in some cases won regional Union heats, as for example in the case of the Croatian entry.
Hosted by TED Youth Director, Dejan Stojković, and South England Conference (SEC) Pathfinder director, Clifford Herman, from the SEC media suite in Watford, England, the event at the time of reporting has been currently viewed 3,500 times.
In the spirit and style of the international song writing Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), each participating country submits an original song to be performed. Given the online nature of the TED event, pre-recorded entries are submitted, changing the dynamics expected of a live performance to an edited video-mix of graphic and sound. Inevitably, a judgement is made not only on the performance of the singers, but the creativity and technical quality of the video production. As for the ESC, a dual voting process operates, firstly with judges from competing countries casting votes for the other countries’ songs, which is then combined with viewer voting to determine a winner.
Each entry was preceded by a brief video clip featuring scenes from the represented nation, and by Stojković joyfully stirring a healthy competitive spirit, discussing fun facts about the countries, and creating an atmosphere of celebration and togetherness.
The songs from each country varied in both content and style. Finland in particular, submitted an entry with a traditional and encouraging biblical theme from Philippians 6, “Put on the whole Armour of God”, and yet performed with the most contemporary graphics and sound genre. Other entries such as those submitted from Bosnia Herzegovina, Greece, Cyprus and Scotland followed a more traditional genre.
Once all twelve entries were aired, viewers were given the opportunity to vote after. 977 people voted online, followed by the judges, from twelve different countries. Stojković was quick to gleefully note that, for the first time in this competition, the verdict of the judges did not correspond with the viewers!
Once all the votes were calculated in classic Eurovision style, the winning entry was announced:
- In first place, and the winner of the competition with a total of 121 points:
Will we never learn?
Andreas Kolstad & Sandra Lungu
Audio sound version
Responding to their joy in winning the competition, Andreas and Sandra said, “We were honestly a little surprised, as all the other contestants were very good. We feel very honoured and exited over winning the contest and are glad all the hard work paid off.” Commenting on the topic of the song, the young Norwegian singers, shared “We chose to use it for the contest to spread the message of climate awareness and stewardship. This topic is something both of us are very passionate about, and putting a melody on it is a great way to encourage others as well.”
- In second place with a total of 119 points:
Love is more than just a feeling
Audio sound version
David Chip, the lead singer, was delighted “to see that the song he wrote receive a nice reception and recognition, both from the jury and audience. He was quick to add however that he believed that “nobody appeared in the competition led by desire to win, but to share and use the talent God has given us for His glory.”
It’s clear that the song is written with a purpose in mind as David explains. “We live in a world with a deep misunderstanding of what love is. With romantic novels, movies – and the sexualised entertainment industry, even popular science has taught us that love is just a feeling, an emotion, something nice, pleasant, romantic.”
“What I wanted to do in writing this song, ” he continues, is to remind people that instead of ‘no strings attached’ relationships are bonds which need investment, bonds that are to be invested in.” David goes on to note that society has changed, from the “Wellbeing of the community now replaced by the wellbeing of individuals. And at the personal level, “Faithfulness to God (by living His principles) is replaced by faithfulness toward my emotions (living by my principles). And feelings like happiness became the doctrine of secular (even modern religious) movements.”
David worships in a small Adventist church in Gospic, near the village Smiljan, Croatia, the birthplace of Nikola Tesla.(1)
There is much more David has to say about love and human emotions which will be featured in an upcoming edition of tedNEWS.
- In third place with a total of 114 points:
Youth of Greece (-Victoria Giantzaklidou, Eghosa Igbinovia, Eunice Christel Manigbas and Irini Siwale)
Audio sound version
Summing up the 2023 “Vision Song Contest” Stojković extended his congratulations to Norway on winning the competition, and noted, “This all so interesting. I want you to know that it is not important who are winners and losers – because we have had a true festival of amazing and mostly original songs. What also really thrills me is how the North Macedonian entry warmed the hearts of the viewers.”
Audio sound version
“I am so grateful”, continued Stojković, “for every Union organising their own music festival music, which connects with us – and the result is the Division song contest.” In a surprising ending, and in collaboration with the Union youth directors and in agreement with the artists, Stojković announced a memento of the event – an album featuring all the entries available for download, so that the spirit of Vision 2023 can continue throughout the year which is available here:
“Worth noting” commented one viewer, “Listening to the songs in audio without the videography creates a different dynamic – obvious really, but the lyrics are amplified and you notice them more.”
“A massive thank you to all the Youth Directors across the TED for sending us your beautiful songs and the people who worked in the production and in the studio to make this event possible” said Stojković, who is already planning and dreaming about the next Vision event which will take place on Saturday evening 6 January 2024.