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Le Mondial SAQ 2002
Montréal International Fireworks Competition Report

Portugal Fire Dance June 22nd, 2002

Luso Pirotecnia. Artistic director Vitor Machado, Pyrodigital firing; Show Director choreography

'The consortia of the Iberian country's pyrotechnicians, will undertake its very first presence ath the prestigious international competition with an ambitious program. "Montreal spectators will be immersed in a magical world where fire, light, rhythm and movement will merge as one", commented Mr Machado. Many unique characteristics will be highlighted by the flamboyant aesthetics and the deep sensitivity of these talented craftsmen.'

After the dismal weather last week, summer properly returned to Montreal with several hot and humid days being replaced by a perfect warm summer evening for the debut performance by a consortium of four companies from Portugal. Before darkness fell, everyone could see a large ring suspended from a crane and wondered what this device might be, but more of that later. As a former resident of Portugal some ten years ago (I lived there for 18 months) I was interested to see a night-time display, all the displays I'd seen there being in the daytime and usually consisting of barrages of hundreds or thousands of salute-headed rockets. It was interesting to see references to such traditions at a couple of points in the display. Fired using Pyrodigital, there were over 256 firing modules used for this complex display, with a couple of folks from Pyrospectaculars seen helping out.

Part 1 to the music Nightmare By Ronan Hardiman. The display began serenely with a line of of red flares opening up one by one across the floating ramp. As these burned, red mines from the centre control room and the left and right started to fire. As the mines continued in perfect synchronization, volleys of large red star shells were fired above. This sequence continued and was followed by gold glitter comet shells as mines fired below. The shells continued in gold glitter ending in gold strobe. Next, a front of crossed star shots and then a left to right moving sequence of red headed glitter comet mines in perfect note-sync. The sequence of glitter mines became faster moving from the sides to the centre, becoming shots of yellow and salmon glitter. Then shots of crossed glitter comets and shells of comets of glitter where the comet trail had a glittery cascade fall out of it, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 2 to the music Talk to him By Eric Serra. This segment began with comets of the silver cascading glitter and then fronts of bright colour star mines. Front after front of mines were fired and then single star shot fronts. Next, barrages of silver kamuro shells, building in intensity until the sky was filled, with the stars trailing to the lake. The ring then lit up in a circle of pale gold gerbes, forming the appearance of the sun. Left and right angled comet shots in pale gold glitter were followed by larger glittering comet candles. Above these, shells of glittery gold go-getters, the comet trails falling serenely as they stopped flying across the sky. This very serene sequence repeated and was replaced by shells of slow falling fast strobes, with candles of firefly comets below. Then more shells of the glitter go-getter comets with tourbillons as well, with candles of pale gold comets below. These were followed by barrages of more of the glittery go-getter comets and tourbillon shells and then shells of slow falling pale yellow stars. The segment came to a close with a front of mines and fans of comets with strobe shells above as the music moved seamlessly to:

Part 3 to the music Huron Beltane Fire Dance by Loreena McKennitt. A line of white strobes lit up along the floating ramp. A sequence of barrages of shells of very bright photo-flash salutes continued for quite some time, reminding me of daytime displays of salute barrages in Portugal. As the salute shells continued, shots of crossed purple stars were fired. The salutes continued, filling the sky, with shots of crossed aqua stars below. These were followed by red-headed glitter comet bombettes, as the salutes continued and the red glitter bombettes built in intensity. Then bright lemon-headed meteor comets shots in silver and gold glitter with gold glitter shells above. These continued and were augmented by fans of comets below and then barrages of blue star shells and shells of deep gold glitter comets. This theme continued with blue star shells and gold glitter comet shells above and fans of comets below. After repeating this theme, crossed ball shots below with large bright colour shells above, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 4 to the music Movement 1 by Vangelis. A line of blue flares lit up along the floating platform. The sound of waves crashing on a beach was brought to life with a fast sequence fired from right to left of gold cluster comet mines angled so the stars turned over and turned to blue, just like a wave breaking. This wave breaking sequence was fired several times and then a fast sequence of gold glitter comets was fired around the edge of the ring. Next, the numbers 1, 2 and 3 were lit up in seven-segment fashion using short duration gerbes in the centre of the ring in perfect synchronization to the words "one, two, three". Then another fast sequence of comets fired round the edge of the ring. Next, bright silver comet shells, with clusters of silver comets in the centre below with lemon yellow meteor heads in perfect note synchronization. These were followed by pale gold comet shells above and then left-angled and right-angled pale gold comet shots in a fast repeating sequence fired left, right and up from the centre. These were followed by pale charcoal and aluminium comet shots, with the same in shells above. These were followed by shells of white stars and then barrages of white shells and silver comets. The intensity increased with shells of red ball-star crossettes and also shells of silver comet crossettes. Candles of orange glitter with more of the red-star crossette shells were followed by silver comet crossette shells and dense fans of gold comets below. This theme continued with gold glitter candles, fans of thick comets with gold fireflies. The intensity increased with barrages of shells of electric crossette comets with fans of glitter comets fired below. Then huge shells of orange headed comets and shells of orange stars, the intensity increasing with a barrages of shells with pistils and then a volley of large titanium salutes, bringing the segment to a close as the music moved rapidly to:

Part 5 to the music It's all so quiet by Björk. The ring lit up with a five-pointed star in short-duration gerbes in the centre as serene tourbillon shells were fired above. The intensity greatly increased with multi-colour mine fronts in quick sequence with huge barrages of colour star shells above. These fronts and barrages continued and then the pace became very serene again as more five-pointed stars lit up in the ring as tourbillon shells were fired above. The intensity than rapidly increased again with the multi-colour mine fronts in quick succession and barrages of large shells with pistils above and then glitter mines below. Back to the serene sequence of tourbillon shells and then a big increase in intensity again with barrages of glitter comet shells and salutes, with three mine fronts in quick succession, each a different colour and so fast that all three colours were seen at once. Above these mine fronts, large barrages of silver comet shells, then glitter mines below and more colour shells above, the pace then dropping back to the serene tourbillon shells, with the ring showing more five-pointed stars. Back to the triple-colour fast mine fronts with barrages of shells of gold glitter fireflies filling the sky, the intensity increasing and the segment coming to a close with a fast sequence of gold glitter shots fired round the edge of the ring.

Part 6 to the music Variation II (Dance of the Sugar-plum fairy) by Tcaïkovsky. This segment began very quietly with the sound of birdsong as a line of strobes lit up along the floating ramp. Then gentle barrages of slow-falling fast silver strobe shells, the stars falling all the way to the ground. Then shots of glitter comets in quick sequence from the left and right at angles with more barrages of the slow-falling silver strobes. These were followed by shots of silver comets ending in fast strobes and more of the left and right sequenced comet shots, with shells of the slow-falling silver strobes above and then shells of gold comets turning into silver strobes. The segment was brought to a close with barrage after barrage of strobe shells until the sky was completely filled, the end coming with a front of strobe mines ending in crackle.

Part 7 to the music Cromornia by José M. David. A flight of double ascension gold girandolas rose majestically into the sky. The ring then fired colour mines in perfect note sync, first down, then up, then left and right and then in a outward pointing star shape. Colour mines in perfect sync to the chuffy caliope music fired along the floating ramp, the sound of the mine launch being a perfect match for the music. These continued as the ring continued with similar mine shots around its edge. Above this, shells of silver go-getter comets as more perfectly synchronized shots fired from the edge of the ring. This sequence was repeated with go-getter silver comet shells above and more shots from the ring. Shells of slow-falling silver comets were followed by yet more colour mines from the ring, the segment coming to a close with a deafening round of screaming whistling serpents and a huge volley of titanium salutes.

Part 8 to the music Main Titles from Planet of The Apes by Danny Elfman. The lake was filled with nautic strobes with blue shells above. Then the ring lit up with a dozen saxons (rotating silver fountains) around its edge, forming a fantastic moving pattern of silver. Above this, large blue shells, with barrages of photo-flash salutes at a lower level. Then barrages of gold comet shells, colour shells and continued barrages of the low-level salutes. The pace an intensity increased with huge shells with pistils and continual barrages of the flash salutes, bringing the segment to a close as a faux finale.

Part 9 to the music Angelus in medio Ignis by Eric Serra. The final segment began dramatically with barrages of pale gold kamuro shells filing the sky and trailing to the lake. After this, shells of the comets where cascades come out of the sides after they have stopped moving across the sky. Barrage after barrage of these were fired. The pace increased as these became crackling electric comets. The music started to become inaudible as barrages of huge yellow shells, filled the sky, then mines of glitter and purple star shots below. The pace increased beyond my ability to take notes though the barrages, filled with large salutes, filled the sky, first with warm colours, then brighter and brighter dazzling whites and blues, then even brighter silvers with more and more salutes and fronts of silver comet salute mines, the display coming to an end with thunderous barrages of enormous shells and vast numbers of salutes, leaving people screaming and shaking. A fabulous end to a fantastic display. My final page of notes simple said "WOW" in big letters!

This was a truly fantastic display. Nothing like this has been seen before in Montreal and the audience was buzzing with talk of the ring which thus merits a paragraph on its own.

The ring was around 6m in diameter and suspended from a crane in the centre of the display area. It had gerbes round its edge to make it appear like the sun; mines around the outer and inner edges which were fired in bursts, fast rotating sequence moving round the edge and groups to create star shapes. In the centre, short-duration gerbes in a seven-segment display to give the numbers 1, 2 and 3. Also, many groups of gerbes to give a five-pointed star shape. Finally, on the back side of the ring, at least a dozen saxons, giving the most fabulous multi-rotating picture in fire. This device was like a display in itself and absolutely unprecedented in the history of the Montreal Fireworks Competition.

Note must also be made of the many different types of glitter comet, the subtleties of which were impossible to catch in my notes. There were pale gold comets; charcoal and aluminium comets; silver glitter; gold glitter; deep gold glitter; gold glitter with fireflies; silver glitter with small strobes; meteor-headed glitter in silver and gold - with heads in red, orange and lemon; the remarkable cascading glitter comets where a cascade of silver "fell out" of the side of the comet trail; and electric comets, where sparks come out of the side of the comet trail like electric spark.

In summary, this was a fabulous display. There was great variation in rhythm and pace from superb serene moments to sky-filling barrages and several faux-finales. The use of the ring was simply stunning; as I said, it has no precedent. Synchronization was flawless, save for two shells at the very end of the finale. The breaking wave sequence was interesting in that it was different to the Japanese approach last week. The finale was also interesting in that there was an interesting sequence of colours used, rather than the "every colour in the rainbow at once" approach sometimes used. Such originality, and in a debut performance to boot, must surely be rewarded with a Jupiter.


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