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And the winner is…

Martina Iori, winner of Liet International 2014

On Friday, 12 December 2014, the 10th edition of Liet International, the song contest for musicians who sing in a regional or minority language, took place in the North-German city of Oldenburg, in Lower Saxony.

Winner of the Jury Award this year was Martina Iori. This 19 year-old musician from Val di Fassa in the north of Italy sang in Ladin, a minority language spoken in South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno. She also played the guitar and was accompanied by two musicians on double bass and drums. Just four weeks earlier she had won the song contest “SUNS” (open for regional and minority languages from Italy, Austria and Switzerland) with her song Via con mia musega, about going away to the moon and taking with her the only thing that really matters, namely music. Martina was very grateful for the amazing experience and the opportunity that was given to her, participating in Liet International.

The jury was composed of representatives of the 10 competing regions. As several jury members pointed out, the level of this years competitors was very high and they had difficulties dividing their points. But after their hard task, this was the result:

Instead of the Audience Award in earlier years, this year the musicians themselves could vote on the act which they found the best. This Musicians’ Award was won by the Aila-duo from Finland, singing in Aanaar Sámi, a language estimated to be spoken by less than 400 speakers. Heli Aikio and Jessika Lampi were very moved by this sign of recognition of their fellow-musicians.

Since 2008, Liet International has been under the patronage of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. A team from the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, who co-sponsors the event, was present at Liet International 2014. The Charter is an international treaty that aims to protect and promote the use of regional and minority languages all over Europe. Mr Thorsten Afflerbach, ‎Head of the Secretariat of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, who handed over the Jury Award, pointed out that language issues are human rights issues and that the use of regional or minority languages contributes to maintaining diversity and the cultural heritage in Europe.

The song festival for regional and minority languages Liet International is a Frisian (North of the Netherlands) initiative and was organised for the first time in the capital of Friesland, Ljouwert/Leeuwarden in 2002. Since 2006, the festival has travelled around Europe.

Liet International attracts each year a lot of media-attention – from the BBC to Al Jazeera – and has grown to one of the biggest events for the promotion of regional and minority languages. This year, camera teams from the Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR), Omrop Fryslân and NRK Sápmi were present in Oldenburg, as well as journalists from several (regional) newspapers.

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