Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

GFA / La Ronde Soundtrack

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

C’est dans le ciel avec Serge Fiori et Harmonium

  1. Aujourd’hui je dis bonjour à la vie – Harmonium
  2. Un musicien parmi tant d’autres – Harmonium
  3. Pour un instant – Harmonium
  4. Harmonium – Harmonium
  5. En pleine face – Harmonium
  6. Vert – Harmonium
  7. Depuis l’automne – Harmonium
  8. Histoires sans paroles – Harmonium
  9. Deux cents nuits à l’heure – Serge Fiori et Richard Séguin
  10. Viens danser – Serge Fiori et Richard Séguin
  11. Ça fait du bien – Serge Fiori et Richard Séguin
  12. Le monde est virtuel – Serge Fiori
  13. Jamais – Serge Fiori
  14. Comme un fou – Harmonium
  15. Chanson noire (Pour une blanche cérémonie) – Harmonium
  16. Comme un sage (Comme un sage) – Harmonium

Jubilee Fireworks Soundtrack

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Gunpowder and Greasepaint

  1. Overture – Phantom of the Opera
  2. Any Dream – Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
  3. One Night in Bangkok – Chess
  4. Timewarp – Rocky Horror Picture Show
  5. Big Spender – Sweet Charity
  6. One Night Only – Dreamgirls
  7. Luck Be A Lady – Guys & Dolls
  8. Memory – Cats
  9. You Can’t Stop The Beat – Hairspray
  10. America – West Side Story
  11. On My Own – Les Miserables
  12. Footloose – Footloose
  13. Come What May – Moulin Rouge

Interview with Team Jubilee Fireworks

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Normally, I report that I met with the designer of a display and give some background. However, this time,  I not only met with Andy Wiggins of Jubliee Fireworks for the second participation in Montreal, but I am actually on the crew.

Jubilee competed in 2015 and, uniquely in the competition’s history, were rewarded with the Gold Jupiter despite being the first competitor. Despite this win, Andy had been disappointed with some aspects of their display and he told me they had learned a lot since 2015. A lot of time had been spent on-site making various angled structures out of wood to hold the one-shots in the display, which had cost a lot of time and effort. This time, Jubilee shipped their racks from the UK along with their fireworks. This has greatly reduced the amount of time required during the pre-mounting phase, which is important as there are over 2500 one-shots.

Fan racks for ramp 3

Products come from various European manufacturers with Hamex in Slovenia and Guiliani in Italy making products specially for the display. Other companies include Ricasa and Europla from Spain as well as Jubilee’s owb-brand Chinese products. Andy told me that one thing they had learned in 2015 was that ramp 4 didn’t really add anything to the display so it will not be used. Ramp one will have the usual 5 positions, with 9 on ramp 2 and 21 across the front of ramp 3. Ramp 3 also includes 3 access ramps – these will be used together with two pontoons in between the access ramps and a further five pontoons forming ramp 5.

Candle rack

Enthusiasts of large calibre shells will be pleased with the range 175mm-300mm shells used in the display too!

The theme of the display, Gunpowder and Greasepaint, is designed to highlight a very theatrical style, with Andy telling me he was not the greatest fan of musicals, but, after watching the famous Strictly Come Dancing television show in the UK realized that this form of music is very popular and will get people moving.

Andy Wiggins

Macedos Soundtrack

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Portuguese Odyssey

  1. Cancão Do Mar – Dulce Pontes
  2. Barco Negro – Mariza
  3. Lusitana Paixão – Dulce Pontes
  4. Ocean Princess – Thomas Bergersen
  5. Conquest Of Paradise – Vangelis
  6. New World Symphony ( Allegro) – Antonin Dvorak
  7. Nabucco – Giuseppe Verdi
  8. Baba Yetu (The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili) – Alex Boyé BYU Mens Chorus Philharmonic Christopher
  9. The Lion King “Circle Of Life” – Alex Boye ft. Alisha Popat Lemarti
  10. Paradise(Peponi) African Style – Coldplay Ft. guest artist Alex Boye (ThePianoGuys)
  11. O Amor A Portugal (Cera Una Volta Il West) – Focus – Ennio Morricone & Dulce Pontes
  12. Koto – CloZee
  13. Favo De Mel – The Rio Singers
  14. Immediate Music Epic Extended Remix – Lacrimosa

Interview with Team Macedos

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

I met with Fernando Macedos, patriarch of the now 4-generation fireworks family together with the designer of the display Diogo Vasconcelos, a relatively new recruit to the company.

Team Macedos (Fernando on the right)

Macedos last competed in 2010, a year that was strongly contested, as well as in 2006, another strong year. Both times they were pipped to the post. Fernando said that winning in competitions is important for his company and was pleased to note they just came second in Pamplona, in Spain, where even the locals acknowledged they had the best display.

Diogo explained the theme of this year’s display is essentially a history of Portugal’s discoveries around the world, represented in eight thematic elements covering Africa, Asia, as well as Brazil with music that reflects the cultures of these places.

On the pyrotechnic side, Fernando told me that 40% of the products used are produced in his factory, with the remaining 60% coming from Lidu in China. There will be many special effects that are typical of Portugal, including relampagos (sequenced photoflashes) tremidas (a type of strobes) as well as others that are not directly translatable but something like a cross between “bees” and “go-getters”. Portugal is renowned for rockets, but none will be used as they’re too unpredictable fora pyromusical. Fernando also noted that he needed more mortars than were immediately available on site.

Five positions on ramps 1 and 2 will be used, as well as 13 on ramp 3, five on ramp 5 (the pontoons) but probably nothing on ramp 4. The display is being fired using 100 32-cue FireOne modules, with around 3000 cues – a first for Macedos as they normally use the wireless FireMaster system. I did sense a tiny bit of trepidation about using an unfamiliar system. Diogo said parts of the display had been visualized with some in-house software he had created.

Inviting the audience come to La Ronde, Fernando joked that they would all be there to see him, but, in seriousness, he said he wanted people to come and experience the pride and history of the Portuguese.

féérie Soundtrack

Friday, July 21st, 2017

The Evolution of Music

  1. This Is Madness – Hans Zimmer
  2. The Ramayana Monkey Chant (Bali) – Ketjak
  3. Go down Moses – Louis Armstrong
  4. Royal Garden Blues – Louis Armstrong And The All-Stars
  5. Feeling Good – Nina Simone
  6. Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley
  7. One Love – Bob Marley
  8. Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry
  9. Highway To Hell – AC/DC
  10. We Will Rock You – Queen
  11. Life From Mars – David Bowie
  12. Mes Souliers Sont Rouges – Les Souliers Rouges
  13. My Ding A Ling – Chuck Berry
  14. Rabbi Jacob – Vladimir Cosma
  15. Down The Road – C2C
  16. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
  17. Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones
  18. Toute La Musique Que J’aime – Johnny Hallyday

Interview with Team féérie

Friday, July 21st, 2017
Joel Harmon (l) and Dugast Yvonnick(r)

Joël Harmon (l) and Dugast Yvonnick(r)

I met with Joël Harmon and Dugast Yvonnick who are the thematic and pyrotechnical designers for this third participation of féérie in the Montreal International Fireworks competition, their previous displays being in 2012 and 2007.

Joël told me he had heard that 2017 would be Montreal’s 375th anniversary and had thought it would be great to come this year and, to his surprise and pleasure, received the call in late 2016 inviting féérie to compete!

He said the approach féérie are using in 2017 is quite different to their previous participations in 2012 and 2007 and the Montreal display is completely different to their recent attendance at a new fireworks competition held this past June in Timmins, Ontario. Not only a different type of site but a much different length of display too.

The soundtrack for their display essentially tells the story of the evolution of music from the beginning of time, where it was just the rhythmic banging of coconut shells together, all the way through American music with the birth of Jazz, rock-and-roll and up to contemporary music including the much missed Leonard Cohen and his new classic, Hallelujah.

On the pyrotechnic side, féérie are using mainly products (around 95%) from Igual in Spain because of their known performance and quality, especially with respect to colour and effect. Joël stressed this quality aspect is very important for their company. The remaining 5% will be special Chinese products. The display is not using a big arsenal of large calibre shells, though there will be quite a lot of 175mm calibre. Dugast stressed they are looking for the overall effect in the sky rather than just single large shells.

The display will consist of around 3500 cues with approximately 2500 one-shots, which is rather more than their display in 2012. All firing ramps, including the floating pontoons, will be used and there will also be nautical devices, but no special structures.

Let’s hope for favourable wind conditions for their display where the team hope people will move and dance to the music!

Innovative Pyrotechnik Soundtrack

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Pyro Rhapsodie

  1. Russian Dance – Tchaikovsky
  2. River Flows In You – Yiruma
  3. Echnaton – Philip Glass
  4. Coultergeist – Phil Coulter
  5. La Boda De Luis Alonso – Gerónimo Giménez
  6. Orchestral Suite No.3 (Air) – J.S. Bach
  7. L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2 – Georges Bizet
  8. Canon In D – Pachelbel
  9. Danza Final (Malambo) – Marquez
  10. Symphonie No. 3 Mother Earth:Cut – Johan de Meij

Interview with Team Innovative Pyrotechnik

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I met with Joachim Berner, competing for the second time in Montreal with his company IP (Innovative Pyrotechnik), but appearing here for the 11th time, having assisted with Lünig Feuerwerk, Nico Feuerwerk (who had acquired Lünig), IPON, and San Tai over many years since the start of the competition in 1985.

Joachim told me his company had recently brought out an updated version of the ubiquitous PyroDigital field controller, as his company had purchased the rights at the beginning of the year from Pyrodigital Consultants. Ipon’s Gold-Jupiter winning display in 1997 was a landmark in the development of the pyromusical as it was the most complex display fired in Montreal up until that date and still remains in my top three displays ever witnessed in the competition. Joachim explained the challenge of having to use three laptops to contain the script, which was too large for the software at the time. Fast-forward to 2017 and the latest field controller is 15x faster than the previous versions and has 5x the capacity, while remaining backwards-compatible with all existing field controllers and firing modules.

Next Generation Pyrodigital Field Controller

For the display itself, Joachim said the term “Rhapsody” was used deliberately as the definition is a “work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour and tonality”. Previously, Joachim has worked with mainly classical repertoire for pyromusicals but noted, this time, some of the pieces are by modern young composers such as Phil Coulter, Yiruma and Philip Glass. The soundtrack was put together by Joachim, but with some suggestions from his colleague Ulrich Fricke, who had suggested Echnaton by Philip Glass. The finale piece is from a modern opera composed by the Flemish composer Johan de Meij.

Joachim said the conception and design of the show took around four weeks, with several more weeks needed for the logistics to put it all together. He would have liked to come to Montreal more often, but due to the amount of work his company has it’s difficult.

The pyrotechnic material used comes from a variety of manufactures with Benito Pagano making some special 8-break shells with customized timing on the breaks to fit exactly to the music. IP also manufactured most of the products on ramp 3 (as well as shells) and other manufactures included Ricasa (Spain), San Tai (Taiwan), Nico (Germany), MP (California) for special comets that have a military name(!), and a small Chinese company of only 60 whose name I didn’t capture. Ipon (Italy) also manufactured many shells, including 21-bombette 200mm cylindrical shells. The largest calibres used in the show will be 250mm. Ramp 5 will not be used due to many special effects that will be on or over the lake. The show will have around 5500 cues.

Joachim Berner

Joachim was surprised to learn that the countries competing this year were selected by the public and was happy to hear that Germany was one of those on the list! WHen asked why people should attend, Joachim said that the audience will see a very special show with new effects and music not heard before in pyromusicals. Let’s hope the positive weather forecast persists!

Surex Soundtrack

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Just Fun

  1. Begin – Krzysztof Pszona
  2. Another Way To Die – Alicia Keys ft. Jack White
  3. Let Me Entertain You – Krzysztof Pszona
  4. Elia – Krzysztof Pszona
  5. Firework – Katy Perry
  6. I Will Find You – Krzysztof Pszona
  7. Highway To Hell – AC/DC
  8. Walk Away – Kelly Clarkson
  9. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
  10. Disco – Krzysztof Pszona
  11. Shot Me Down – David Guetta ft. Skylar Grey
  12. We Are The People – Unclubbed ft. Kim Wayman
  13. Sail – Awolnation
  14. Lock on – Blue
  15. Let’s Dance – David Bowie
  16. Chandelier – Sia
  17. New-York, New-York – Frank Sinatra
  18. Scream And Shout – ft. Britney Spears
  19. Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennet, Goon Rock
  20. Love Me Again – John Newman
  21. Paris Paris – Malcolm McLaren & Catherine Deneuve
  22. Proper Education – Eric Prydz ft. Pink Floyd
  23. To The End – Krzysztof Pszona
  24. Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
  25. Adiemus – Karl Jenkins ft. Miriam Stockley
  26. Halo – Beyoncé
  27. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
  28. The Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim
  29. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

Interview with Team Surex

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

I met with Jaroslaw Suzdalewicz, son of the founders of Surex Family Fireworks, and co-designer with cousin Sebastian Cwajna. Founded in 1989, Surex first competed in Montreal in 2010 and have won prizes at several competitions since then. This year they competed in Madeira and, together with Montreal, will be appearing in the renowned Hanover competition in September.


1 of 5 Ramp 1 positions with 125mm and 150mm shells shown

Jaroslaw said the design of the show is quite different from their previous appearance in Montreal and is different to their usual style of shows which tend to feature epic music. For this year’s display, they spent around three weeks on the conception and picked a multi-faceted soundtrack with 29 pieces of music ranging through such classics as Highway To Hell by AC/DC, Chandelier by Sia to a finale set to Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life – all three of which Jaroslaw said he is looking forward to see. The soundtrack also features pieces by Warsaw-based TV and film composer Krzysztof Pszona who was responsible for editing and mixing the entire work.

Ramp 2

Setting up one of five ramp 2 positions

On the pyrotechnic side, Jaroslaw said they wanted to shoot in a style that shows off the high quality products which come from their own-label Chinese manufacturer as well as a wide range of European manufacturers including Pirico (Italy), Europla, Igual, Zaragozona, Ricasa (Spain), Privatex Pyro (Slovakia) and a Polish company, Basile, that manufactures for Martarello under licence in Poland. Quite the range of products! There will be around 30 large calibre shells (200, 250 and 300mm) as well as many one-shots and row cakes, together with some special effects (which include 13 special towers) and many nautical products.

One Shot racks

Adjustable One-shot Racks

The display will be fired from 24 positions – five each on ramps one and two with thirteen across ramp three and one position on ramp four. The display features around 2500 cues, a lot more than their previous display and Jaroslaw noted their method of firing shells this time will be different than their first appearance with no more than double cues (presumable two shells on one cue rather than a longer chain as they used in the past). They are using a FireOne firing system rented from local company GFA to simplify their logistics as they have some large shows coming up on their return to Poland. Their one-shot racks are also rented from GFA.

Jaroslaw Suzdalewicz

Jaroslaw Suzdalewicz

Jaroslaw was very enthusiastic about the display and theme and said that it should be especially appealing to Montrealers and invited everyone to come and attend and join in the party!

Vaccalluzzo Events SRL Soundtrack

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Bellissima Sicilia

  1. My name Is Lincoln – Steve Jablonsky
  2. Aeternum – James Dooley
  3. Arkham City Main Theme – Nick Arundel
  4. Tchunga Ya – Etienne Perruchon
  5. Carmen – George Bizet
  6. Nostradamus – Maksim Mrvica
  7. La Noyée – Yann Tiersen
  8. Funiculì Funiculà – Luciano Pavarotti
  9. La Danza – Gioacchino Rossini
  10. O Sole Mio – Luciano Pavarotti
  11. Norma (Overture) – Vincenzo Bellini
  12. Guerra! Guerra – Vincenzo Bellini

Interview with Team Vaccalluzzo Events SRL

Friday, July 7th, 2017

I met with Alfio Vaccalluzzo, the chief designer of his company’s second display in Montreal. Based in Sicily, they gained fame with a memorable display at the 9th International Symposium on Fireworks, held in Berlin in 2006. Vaccalluzzo’s highly anticipated debut in the Montreal competition garnered them the Bronze Jupiter in 2012. They also won the “people’s choice” award that same year in Montreal.

For their 2017 display, they decided to focus on a more traditional Italian theme which represents a tribute to their native Sicily. Alfio and brother Alessandro were responsible for the design and choreography with Alfio responsible for the first track of the music and Alessandro the rest.

95% of the fireworks used in the display are produced by the family’s pyrotechnics business and the remaining 5% are Chinese items for some of the low-level effects. A total of 2500 one-shot devices are being used of several different calibres up to 45mm and mounted in an interesting rack system that allows the angles to be easily adjusted:

One-shot racks

One-shot racks

Several hundred Roman Candles are also used with their timing specially designed to be synchronized to the soundtrack. For enthusiasts of large calibre shells, there will be around 100 8″, 10″ and 12″ with twenty of the latter. The total cue count is around 3500 and the display is being fired, as was the case for the opening show, with Moneti’s PyroLeda system, which Alfio proudly announced is made in Italy!

Alfio Vaccalluzzo

Alfio Vaccalluzzo

Alfio said he was particularly looking forward to seeing the finale, which will use a special Vaccalluzzo Gold effect and he was also looking forward to Bizet’s Carmen. He said he was a particular fan of Neapolitan music and especially of artists like Luciano Pavarotti. While satisfied with the result for their debut display (particularly the public choice award) he said the team were going for Gold but that also he hoped the best display would win. The entire display was also visualized with the ShowSim simulation software.

Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks / Panzera Soundtrack

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Celebrate Montreal

  1. I Just Wanna Stop – Gino Vannelli
  2. Y’a Du Monde – Dany Bédar
  3. Montréal XO – Laurence Nerbonne
  4. Demain matin, Montréal M’attend – Louise Forestier
  5. Les Nuits De Montréal – Jacques Normand
  6. À Montréal – Grand corps malade
  7. Montréal -Ariane Moffatt
  8. Cartier – Robert Charlebois
  9. Goin’ Back Again – Sass Jordan
  10. Le Blues d’la Métropole – Beau Dommage
  11. Montréal -40°C – Malajube
  12. Montréal – Beau Dommage
  13. Montréal Est Une Femme – Jean-Pierre Ferland
  14. Montréal – Ian Kelly
  15. Sous Les Cheminées – Richard Séguin
  16. Le But (Allez Montréal) – Loco Locass
  17. Je Reviendrai À Montréal – Robert Charlebois
  18. Hymne À Montréal (Ville-Marie) – Éric Lapointe

Interview with Team Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks / Panzera S.A.S.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

I met with Michael Lutz (of Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks) and Maria-Grazia Gerbaudo (of Panzera S.A.S.) to talk about their special partnership for the opening of the 33rd edition of the Montreal International Fireworks Competition (known as L’international des feux Lotto Quebec).

It will be Rozzi’s 7th and Panzera’s 31st participation in Montreal as well as Michael’s second appearance. This out-of-competition opening show has been specially designed to celebrate Montreal’s 375 anniversary. The public were invited to choose the songs appearing in the soundtrack and the competition director faced the not-easy task of assembling the list of 18 from around 35. With a mix of  artists old and young as well as new or seasoned, the soundtrack includes music that all generations will enjoy and represents the mosaic that is Montreal.

Michael took Paul’s soundtrack and, with the translation help of Maria-Grazia, converted it into pyrotechnic form. Choosing colours from Montreal’s coat of arms (red rose, blue fleur-de-lys, purple thistle and green shamrock – which represent the English, French, Scottish and Irish who built the city), he assembled a display that follows the both the music and history of the city. There will be some special set pieces – to be revealed on the night as well as a product list that is almost 100% pure Panzera. With new colours and one-shot effects this year, these will be used judiciously with Panzera’s renowned multi-break studata shells (including some specially created for this display). Michael noted that his script ties into each break of, say, a four-break shell and said the precision of the Panzera products allows this extra dimension to his creativity.

I asked if his approach this time would be different than when Rozzi competed in 2015 and he said that, despite this not being a competition display, he wanted to demonstrate his prowess and craft an excellent and enjoyable display. This time the Italian PyroLeda firing system will be used and Michael said this ties in well with their usual way of working. A total of around 4300 cues will be used spread over 136 32-cue firing modules.

Michael Lutz and Maria-Grazia Gerbaudo

Michael Lutz and Maria-Grazia Gerbaudo

Asked why people should attend this display, Maria-Grazia and Michael said “there’s nowhere more ‘Montreal‘ to be than at La Ronde for the opening fireworks of the season”. With the promised special effects specially created for the 375th anniversary of this home of the most prestigious pyromuscial competition, it’s hard to disagree!