Fairy tale about a Fisherman and a song

Minsk citizen to represent Norway at Eurovision — 2009 Song Contest
Minsk citizen to represent Norway at Eurovision — 2009 Song Contest.

Charming young Alexander Rybak was brought up in the centre of the Norwegian fishing town of Nesodden. He is only 22 years old but is already a true star in Norway, having recently won the national selection round of “Eurovision — 2009” in Oslo, with his “Skazka” folk song. 700 thousand TV viewers voted for him, with pop singer Tone Damli Aaberge coming second with just 120 thousand votes.

The Norwegian media are in raptures, since TV viewers have never been so active during the selection round of the European song contest. It seems as if the entire country of fiords was transfixed by Sasha Rybak, and then inspired to vote for him. Born in Minsk, his parents left Belarus when he was just four years old, to settle in picturesque Nesodden. Sasha has never visited his homeland, having grown up in Norway, and is now graduating from the conservatory in Oslo. His father and teacher — Igor Rybak — tells us about the life of the “Eurovision — 2009” star.

In an interview with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK your son admitted that he forgets Russian. Are there no Belarusians among his friends?

Very few.

Sasha doesn’t know anything about “Pesniary”, does he?

We do like “Pesniary” and listen to them. I even write songs inspired by Belarusian poet Maxim Bogdanovich’s verses and Sasha performs them. Once, I worked with a Vitebsk ensemble — quite popular at that time; we performed in restaurants. My son is, of course, well aware of the repertoire of “Pesniary”. However, he rarely reads books in Russian or Belarusian.
An Internet search reveals that you are a rather successful musician in Norway. It this true?

I have my own private violin school and teach around 30 pupils annually. Sasha’s mother — Natalia Valentinovna — is also enjoying popularity as a pianist and organist; she liaises with famous choral groups and teaches at a school.

Why did you leave Belarus?

I made my decision spontaneously — just as my son did when he decided to take part in Eurovision. 18 years ago I was offered a job in Norway and I agreed.

Have you ever regretted the choice?

I’ve brought Belarusian culture to Europe; Soviet-style teaching is still highly appreciated here…

Has Sasha been writing songs for long?

Since he was three. I remember that, once, when we still lived in Minsk, we went together to the forest. Suddenly Sasha stopped, stood for several minutes and sang a song of his own composition. Since then, he’s always been singing something. Two and a half years ago, he won the Kjempesjansen competition for young talent in Norway, with his “Foolin” composition.

Is it true that he’s worked with A-ha?

Yes. Lead singer Morten Harket was invited to perform in a Norwegian musical, being a superstar. We were involved in it too, as musicians. We toured Europe, America and, even, China.

How do you see your son’s future?

I don’t know. Each young person wants to be loved. God has always been merciful to my son and helped him. We raised Sasha to be useful, which I believe is a form of happiness…

Victoria Popova
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