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2000 l'International Benson & Hedges Montréal Pyromusical Competition Report

Closing Show Montréal Cartoons Sunday July 30th, 2000

Panzera S.A.S., designed by Pierpaolo Serafino, music by Piere Walder, traditional electrical firing

"The Montréal 2000 season will close brilliantly with a fireworks display performed to the sounds of the most famous French and American cartoons. Listen for the familiar music of Woody Woodpecker, Inspector Gadget, The Flintstones and the Pink Panther. This highly colourful offering, staged outside the competition, designed by the competition's artistic director, Giovanni Panzera, is preceded by the presentation of the Jupiter awards."

After the award of the Jupiters, a perfect summer evening gave the ideal conditions for the season's closing show. With a musical theme of forty one segments of the theme music from famous cartoons, the display was a very enjoyable conclusion for the closest competition I can remember. More than two thousand Roman candles were used, of which one thousand were ten-shot bombettes. Panzera showed off the latest designs, with some delightful silver kamuro bombettes and colour to crackle bombettes. We were even treated to silver kamuro nautic mines and use was made of the large Ferris wheel - this having flares placed in every carriage and the perimeter of the wheel covered in colour-chaning foutains, making what must have been the largest rotating pyrotechnic wheel (although not self-powered) ever! The finale was in the pure Panzera style of huge barrages of salutes and shells, the final few seconds being an ear-splitting deafening crescendo of huge salutes, bringing the season to a fantastic close. An announcement was made that the 17th edition of the competition will run next year.


Paul's Rankings for 2000

The level of the competition this year was the highest I've ever seen. That there were no technical problems at all (save a couple of extremely minor ones which were virtually un-noticeable), is a great tribute to the hard work and dedication of the pyrotechnics crew at La Ronde. In previous years, any technical problems made the choice of judges somewhat easier. This year, however, it is extremely difficult to judge. This is especially true because of the use of computerised firing systems for all of the display, save one. Excellent synchronization was something novel only a couple of years ago, now we expect it to be the norm. All of the displays this year would have won a Gold Jupiter in previous years, the level of the competition really was that high. All of the displays were very different, with some interesting musical choices, from pure rock-and-roll, through 1980's Frankie goes to Hollywood to a more traditional classical selection. I think it will be music selection which finally determines the order of the winners. Before I present my personal selection, and my prediction of the Jury's choice, a small review of each display.

Country Firing System Comments
Japan PyroDigital Brilliant material, particularly the pattern shells and multi-colour changing shells. Seamless musical selection integrating Japanese, modern and mainly classical. Flawless synchronization throughout. The use of a parachute shell unfortunately must take them out of the running for a Jupiter.
Switzerland Traditional electrical Despite the none-computerized firing, synchronization was flawless, a testament to the skill of Toni Bussman. A mixture of classical and modern music, with an interesting finale of gold kamuro and brocade. Some fantastic multi-colour changing multi-pistil shells and crackling shells.
Italy PyroDigital Pure rock-and-roll music worked well with the perfect synchronization. Fabulous multi-break shell-of-shells and flower and double-petalled tourbillon shells. Most exciting finale of the competition, but perhaps slightly light in the rest of the display. Smoke effect on the water was an interesting idea, but would have been even better with strobes to highlight it. Music choice will not please all the jury.
United States FireOne and MagicFire Incredible synchronization due to the MagicFire® electronic time fuse. Brilliant colours, though the show was very shell-dominated. Music choice worked well, being a mix of many different genres and should appeal to the Jury. Has taken the art of pyromusical synchronization to a new level.
Australia PyroDigital and FireOne Very fast-paced display with some fantastic comets and mines, and not a moment of dark sky. Flawless synchronization, particularly well demonstrated by the comet shots and mines. Music choice will not please all the jury. Because of the fast pace, the finale seemed a little bit light, but the fabulous rainbow mine front was superb.
Spain PyroDigital Largest amount of material in the competition this year, with fabulous colours, including some dazzling blues, an amazing lemon-yellow and beautiful pastels. Brilliant nautic devices, great girandolas and even rockets gave this display the widest range of material. Synchronization was good on the whole, but in a couple of spots shells kept firing after the music stopped. The mixture of music will appeal to the Jury.
Germany FireOne Another display with a single theme, this dance-oriented display had the widest variation in rhythm and tempo. Some really nice material, particularly the double-sphered crackling shells and the huge waterfall at the end was unique. Perfect synchronization emphasized by the choice of music. Once again, a different type of finale from the Italian-style. The best set-pieces in the competition. The music should appeal to the Jury.
Canada FireOne Fantastic debut from the BEM team. Excellent choice of product and the choice of music worked well and will appeal to the Jury. Nice variation in rhythm and pace throughout and it was nice to see large shells used throughout the display, rather than just the finale. Synchronization was good, though some brocade shells burned out a little bit early. Some parts of the display had perhaps a little too much happening at once, detracting from the kamuro and brocade shells. Despite the first visit of the BEM team, definitely on a par with all the other competitors.

This year I've found it almost impossible to choose the three top displays, let alone choose the order. All of the displays this year would have won a Gold Jupiter in previous year's competitions, the level really was that high. My three favourite shows, based on music, product and general feeling of excitement were Italy, Spain and Australia. My three favourite shows based on pyromusical theme and synchronization were United States, Germany and Canada. My three favourite shows based purely on material used were Japan, Switzerland and Spain. So I've covered everyone, which I think is fair since all the shows were so different and so enjoyable. Moving on to what I think the Jury will do, this is more difficult. The twenty five members are across the spectrum of age and sex and so the musically focussed shows such as Italy and Australia will probably not do so well with the Jury. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the following Jury order:

One final note, just to say that I consider myself a reporter on the competition, not a critic. The combination of fireworks and music excites different people in different ways. My musical tastes are different to other people's and this inevitably influences my enjoyment of a display. This year some displays which I personally really liked, others disliked because of the music. My job, as your humble reporter, is to describe what I saw and report the music used. The Jury has the difficult job of deciding which three should "win". In fact, just being invited to compete sets these companies apart.


Official Results

The official results are:


Thanks to the public relations people of La Ronde for the official press release material, shown in white.