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Nine conductors who took the stage

Six on Stage has been updated with information on conductors from the start of the Eurovision Song Contest up to the final appearance of the live orchestra in 1998. To mark the occasion, here’s a look at some of the conductors who were also performers.

Six on Stage has been updated with information on conductors from the start of the Eurovision Song Contest up to the final appearance of the live orchestra in 1998. To mark the occasion, here’s a look at some of the conductors who were also performers.

Mike Sergeant

Portugal-based British conductor Mike Sergeant made his first appearance at the Contest in 1978, representing Portugal in the group Gemini. He returned in 1983 to conduct their entry and, a whole 15 years later, was Portugal’s final conductor.

Among his other contributions, he arranged José Cid‘s 1980 entry Um Grande, Grande Amor.

Peter Reber

Peter Reber is one of the few artists to hold the joint record, alongside the likes of Lys Assia and Valentina Monetta, for the most songs performed in total. On top of those four participations for Switzerland as one-third of Peter, Sue and Marc, he also conducted Switzerland’s nostalgic 1980 entry Cinéma.

Rutger Gunnarsson

Bassist Ruger Gunnarsson was a regular collaborator with ABBA, playing on their albums and touring with them. His first appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest was in 1974 on stage for Waterloo – what a start! – and he returned for Sweden six years later to support Tomas Ledin.

It was apparently Benny Andersson who suggested Gunnarsson put himself forward to conduct for Alla Pugacheva in 1997. He took the advice and ended up waving the baton for Russia in Dublin.

Arne Bendiksen

Arne Bendikson represented Norway in 1964 with the song Spiral. In 1971, he returned to conduct the orchestra for Hanne Krogh, 14 years before she would return for her victory with Bobbysocks.

He also founded and gave his name to the Bendik Singers, who sang his composition for Norway in 1973.

Tarmo Leinatamm

Conducting in both 1996 and 1997 for Estonia, Tarmo Leinatamm returned 10 years after conductors disappeared as part of the trio Kreisiraadio, who sang Leto Svet in 2008.

A few years later, Leinatamm was elected to the Estonian Parliament.

Rolf Løvland

Rolf Løvland has won Eurovision not once but twice: as writer and backing performer for Bobbysocks in 1985 and a decade later as a member of Secret Garden and writer of Nocturne.

In between the two, he conducted the orchestra twice, for Merethe Trøan in 1992 and Silje Vige in 1993.

Stefan Raab

Comedian, composer and TV presenter Stefan Raab has managed to tick every box at Eurovision: lead artist, backing performer, songwriter, conductor and, following Lena’s victory for Germany, host.

Despite there being nothing to conduct, he took the conductor’s role in 1998 during the song he’d written for Guildo Horn. In 2000, he sang his far more serious composition Wadde Hadde Dudde Da? and returned in 2004 to provide backing on Can’t Wait Until Tonight, having hosted the talent show that chose singer Max – and having once again written the song.

Martyn Ford

Our final two on this list are in a special category: peripatetic conductors who appeared on stage during the same song.

Four years after he had conducted for Cyprus and Anna Vissi, Briton Martyn Ford travelled to Oslo to conduct for Elpida. He notably left his spot during the song to join the performers in encouraging the audience to clap along – before returning to the orchestra finish the job.

Henrik Krogsgård

Seven-time Danish conductor Henrik Krogsgård went one better in 1989. He joined the performers on stage mid-song and never went back, his role taken over by the show’s musical director Benoît Kaufman. In this respect Krogsgård was arguably more of a semi-conductor!

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