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L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2005
Montréal International Fireworks Competition Report

France Passions Saturday June 25th, 2005

Groupe F Pyrotechnie, designed by Christophe Berthonneau, custom electronic firing using approximately 5000 cues.

"The essence of this performance is a celebration of the pyromusical parallel betwe passion of fireworks-makers for their ancestral art, and that of musicians who, through the centuries, have created works that provoke passion, excitement and feelings of love. This crack team of pyrotechnicians from France will attempt to depict these emotions via a wide range of large-scale pyrotechnical effects, including three fantastic characters that will ride unique catamarans equipped with pieces that will be set off as the performance unfolds and the craft float around La Ronde's Lac des Dauphins.

The perfect alchemy between the musical stylings of Mozart, Piazzola, Puccini and Led Zeppelin - and myriad multicoloured points of light - will invite first-time and veteran fireworks-watchers alike to unlock the mysteries of rhythm through fire.

Founded in 1990, France's Groupe F Pyrotechnie specializes in designing and presenting blockbuster pyrotechnical displays. It is acclaimed for its uncanny ability to perfectly adapt fireworks to any location or type of event - witness its impressive incandescent display on the Eiffel Tower for the millennium celebrations, and its contribution to the opening and closing shows of Athens Olympic Games."

Hot humid weather looked like it might be spoiled by early evening thunderstorms but these all fizzled out before the could dampen the enthusiasm of a huge audience for a perfect summer evening. The renowned team from Groupe F had added around 20 extra floating pontoons in a V shape facing away from the audience. They also had included two performers floating on catamarans who would be involved in many parts of the display. Each performer had a number of different pyrotechnic devices attached on himself and the catamaran itself - each person having two large "wing" structures which could be raised and lowered. An impassioned speach from the French consul-adjoint in Montréal reminded the audience of the unforgettable Millenium display that Groupe F had performed on the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve 1999/2000.

Part 1 to music The Song Remains The Same by Led Zeppelin. The display opened with larga kamuro mines in the centre, then left, right and up again. This sequence continued and then a sequence of kamuro comet shots followed by fronts of red, green blue mines. These were followed by mines of yellow meteor comets. Several barrages of yellow meteor comet shells and shells of blue stars were followed by shells of pale kamuro comet Nigara Falls shells, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 2 to music Requiem by Mozart. This opened serenely with a light encrusted performer gliding across the lake on a catamaran with large flames rhytmically bursting forth from the top of his head. This continued for some time and then crossed candles of charcoal comets. As the music built in intensity, the number of charcoal comets increased and then was augmented by barrages of weeping willow shells. The intensity increased and then, as the music quietened, the pace relaxed as a line of gold fountains lit up. A fast sequence of pastel-headed charcoal comets fired from the centre, then again and then augmented with the same sequence at the left, centre and right. This then built in intensity with the addition of gold glitter comets then becoming just gold glitter comets as shells of the same and shells of blue stars fired above. Ground strobes lit up on ramp three and the extra pontoons forming ramp 5. Silver two-driver wheels lit up one by one on ramp 5 until all were firing (though one or two refused to turn as is often the case). These were added to by pale silver comet candles then the same but thicker, more and more being added in relation to the intensity of the music. Shells of silver comets and blue stars fired above and then shells of yellow comets and blue stars. A barrage of shells of blue falling leaves fired as the floating performer glided by with flames emanating from his head again - meanwhile the blue falling leaves had transitioned to white strobes which drifted down to the lake, bringing the segment to a serene close to cheers from the audience.

Part 3 to music Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg. This segment was sequenced almost entirely with propane flame projectors. It began with single flames exactly on the notes on ramp 3, with the flames dancing positions to the left and right. Then pairs of flames, then more including on ramp 5. Sometimes all the flames would fire at once. Other times, the flames would follow the flute or piccolo glissandos of the music. The flames would sequence from the centre outwards with the occasional much larger flame in the centre where dictated by the music. Yellow meteor comet mines were added on ramp three then crossed comet shots, with more and more as the music built (as the flames continued too). The intensity increased and the segment came to a dramatic close with multiple barrages of large yellow meteor comet shells to cheers from the audience.

Part 4 to music by Astor Piazzolla. One of the floating performers glided past on the lake with a line of bengals on his catamaran. Sequences of kamuro comet shots moved across ramp 3. These increased in number and speed and were augmented by kamuro comet shots on ramp 5. The second floating performer glided into view as the comet sequences continued forming very intersting patterns, particularly from ramp 5. The two performers by now had gold glittering gerbs firing from their "wings" which the lifted into the air, the sparks crackling as they entered the water of the lake. Dense mines of charcoal broccade fired from ramp 4 and were then followed by more sequences of comets as rising tail shells of kamuros fired above. Below these, fans of kamuro comet shots and fast comet sequences on ramp 5 with interesting angles as the comets on ramp three became crossed. Comet shots were fired on ramp three and then a silver wheel lit up on the back of floating performer #1. Silver gerbs lit up on the wings of performer #2 as fast sequenced fans of silver comets fired behind them to the left and right. Fronts of comets, straight up, then angled left and right fired on ramp 3 as a fast fan sequence fired on ramp 4. Then a repeat of the comet fronts and left and right moving sequences and fans of crossed comets in bright silver. These continued as the segment came to a close with a barrage of silver comet shells.

Part 5 to music Temple of Love by Sisters of Mercy. This opened with single salutes on the drum beats of the music. This theme continued for a while and then willow mines were fired on the notes whilst the salutes continued. The mines were augmented by weeping willow bombettes and the same in shells above and runs of charcoal comets below. This continued and then as the lyric spoke of love flames were fired in sequence on ramp 3 and pink heart shells burst above. This theme continued as dictated by the lyric and then barrages of shell-of-shells of red stars burst above as the flame shots continued below. More and more barrages of huge shell-of-shells in red and green fired above and then a fast comet sequence on ramp 5 in willow comets and then meteor headed comets. A return to the barrage of shell-of-shells and then large shells of blue stars and silver comets, filling the sky and causing me to write WOW in my notes. The flames then continued below with salutes on the beats. As the intensity of the music decreased fans of meteor comets fired on ramp 4 and crossing fans of yellow meteor comets at the left and right of ramp 3. Then barrages of shells above in silver comets and stars, the segment coming to a close with shells of orange stars to cheers from the audience.

Part 6 to music La Tosca by Puccini. Floating performer #1 had gold gerbs light up on his catamaran as the same lit up in angles on ramps three and five. Brocade mines fired on ramp 4 as shell-of-shells in gold brocade fired above. Below these, crossed kamuro comet shots at the left half of ramp 3. Sequenced shots of crossed comets fired frmo left to right as more of the bright brocade mines fired on ramp 4 with barrages of brocade shells above these at a medium height. These were augmented by more and larger brocade shells above turning to white strobing comets. A fast sequence of gold glitter comets fired below as mines of blue stars and gold glitter were fired. Above these, shell-of-shells in blue and gold glitter with mines of blue and gold glitter below. This theme continued and increased in intensity with the music with barrage after barrage of blue and gold glitter shells. Next, big fronts of meteor comets straight up, then left angled and right angled and crossing. These fast comet sequences continued and became bright silver and then the same in dazzling mines with large silver comet shells above, the segment coming to a dramatic close with a large volley of titanium salutes to enthusiastic cheers from the audience.

Part 7 to music Reggae hommage à Bruce Lee by Laurent Dehors. The final segment began quietly with two large wheels of gerbs on floating performer #1. Behind him, several flights of double ascension girandolas rose, fell and rose again into the air. As these were completing their flights, barrages of farfalle shells fired above. These were augmented by dramatic fast-moving blue go-getter shells, filling the sky. The farfalle shells continued with more barrages of the dramatic blue go-getters. Next, mines of wiggling serpents in sequences which were then augmented by shells of serpents above and both mines and candles of serpents below. As these continued, large shell-of-shells of blue stars. The music calmed somewhat and small fast star cakes started to fire on ramps 3 and 5. As these increased in number, mines burst from ramp 4 as comets and blue bombettes fired above. Barrages of blue shells and then shells of crackling brocade as more and more mines were fired below. I lost the ability to take notes as the large mine fronts increased as large silver shells burst above, the barrages becoming extremely intense and causing me to write WOW a couple of times in my notes. The air was filled with silver and yellow meteor comet shells as the display came to a thundering conclusion with barrages of salutes, comet shells and a final dazzling explosion of brilliant silver mines and shells, to screams of delight from the audience.

This was a truly excellent and creative display which the audience enjoyed enormously. The synchronization and choreography was superb and the use of the floating performers was very interesting, as well as the extra floating pontoons forming ramp 5. These allowed for some very interesting intersecting comet effects because of their layout and great use was made of single-shot sequenced effects throughout the display. The intensity of the fireworks always closely matched that of the music with an excellent dynamic range from quiet and serene moments to portions of extreme intensity (and the spontaneous WOW in my notes). The only criticism I can think of is that the pyrotechnic palette was somewhat limited with perhaps too many charcoal/willow/kamuro-type effects and the repetition of some sequences. Also it could be said that there was no real thematic link between the different segments. These, however, are very minor criticisms for what was an excellent display which must be in with a chance of picking up a Jupiter award this year. Certainly an impressive effort for a debutant in Montréal.


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