Canada – July 23rd 2011 – BEM Fireworks

Once again, hot summer conditions prevailed for BEM’s third participation in the Montreal International Fireworks Competition. Gusty winds early in the evening looked like they may persist until show-time but, fortunately, they did die down sufficiently to allow the countdown to proceed normally.

Unusually, as the countdown from 10 was proceeding, the soundtrack began to play and so the first shell was launched just prior to the countdown’s completion, though this did not detract from the opening of the display. Bernard Masson had promised a strong opening and, indeed, it was as he predicted.

After the powerful opening sequence, we moved into the first of several fairly long narratives, lasting over a minute and without any aerial activity. The narration was well written and read, with Raymond Bouchard’s commanding voice giving appropriate gravitas to the performance.

The soundtrack was an enjoyable collection of classical pieces, well edited together and forming the backbone of the display. The choreography was clean and well-proportioned, though I felt it was rather conservative, both in the space used and the relationship to the music. At points, the soundtrack was very rhythmic but seldom were these acoustical elements emphasized by the fireworks themselves. I was also surprised to notice that several times, the fireworks ended on the penultimate beat or chord of a piece, leaving a strange anti-climax when the final note sounded.

The quality of the pyrotechnic pieces themselves was quite good, though some of the one-shots appeared to have very weak lift charges, causing the comets to barely rise into the air. Some high-quality shells were apparent, with shells of tourbillons and some studatas, though I felt there was some repetition of kamuro effects, with several segments ending in this manner. I was also disappointed how few nautical pieces were deployed – the vaunted 6″ Luso pieces were indeed spectacular, bursting into writhing serpents, but more than the one volley of two shells would have been appreciated. I did wonder, however, if wind conditions had prevented further launches of such shells? The only other nauticals we saw were a couple of strobing bengals.

All in all, it was an enjoyable display with a great soundtrack, though I found the narrative elements broke the rhythm somewhat. Definitely in the upper half of the competitors this year, but may be just pipped to the post for the Bronze Jupiter.

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