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L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2008
Montréal International Fireworks Competition Report

USA Rock Loves July 30th, 2008

Pyrotechnico - designed by Rocco Vitale and Ralph Piacquadio Pyrodigital firing; Show Director choreography; 460 FM-16 modules, ~6600 cues

La Ronde is gonna rock!

Montréal, Tuesday July 29, 2008 - Fans of rock and fireworks will be served up a feast on Wednesday at L'International des Feux Loto-Québec presented by TELUS, when these two explosive forms of expression will join forces in an extravagant pyromusical rock opera. The United States will dazzle you with a totally overwhelming display requiring six additional structures built on the launch ramps, including three 10-m-high towers!

The show, entitled Rock Loves is built around five themes often closely associated with this type of musical and this particular production is no exception.

In the first, rock and the realm of dreams merge into a perfect union with classics such as Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles and Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd. Then, the sounds of rock bring colors to auditory life, such as in Yellow by Coldplay and Mr. Blue Sky by ELO. Rock becomes an eloquent messenger of peace, especially when sung by someone like Lennon, as illustrated in the third act. And rock can also convey love, even with really power guitar riffs such as performed by Guns N' Roses. Lastly, since rock has its own penchant for excess and knows how to fuel it, rock loves shows and being the center of attraction. In other words, as stated by Pyrotecnico, Rock Loves Tonight!, which is the closing act of the rock opera.

Pyrotecnico's life has been like a roller coaster, especially as July 4 rolls around each year, since the firm organizes 600 to 700 fireworks shows for Independence Day celebrations in the United States. There's every reason to believe that the headquarters in New Castle, Pennsylvania, pulls out all the stops for this American holiday. In point of fact, New Castle is considered the fireworks' capital in the United States, if only because there were no fewer than seven pyrotechnical firms active there in the 1920s. The firm's "normal" business, however, did not prevent the designers of Rock Loves from investing nine months of work into this original show, according to Ralph Piacquadio and Rocco Vitale. Vitale, who heads up Pyrotechnico with his brother, has fireworks in his blood: four generations have preceded him in the business since his great-great-grandfather founded the firm in 1889 - some 60 years before rock was born!

With continuing weather threats, the debutant US team were treated to perfect weather conditions are a short shower about 30 minutes before display time. Three 10m towers had been erected on ramp three together with two semicircular arcs as well as a larger arc on the top of ramp 4. Use was also made of ramp 5 with five floating platforms visbile in the water with setpieces and other pyrotechnics on them. With a potentially simplistic theme, the audience were in a state of great anticipation for what would be the most complex display every designed by the crew from Pyrotechnico.

Introduction - Part 1 to the music Karn Evil #9: 1st Impression, Pt. 2 by Emerson, Lake, & Palmer Flares lit up across ramps 3, 4 and 5 as a very short narration introduced the display. Strobes lit up on the three towers as gold glitter shells with pistils burst above. These were augmented by crossed gold glitter comet candles and then mines of whistling serpents as shells of serpents with pistils fired above followed by farfalles as the whistles continued below. This theme continued and was followed by a return to huge pistils shells of gold broccade and shells with two pistils, one twinkling and turning to strobes. Gold glitter studatas then fired in volleys (including one that fired on the ground) then huge star shells with pistils as blasts of colour fired from side to side on the drum hits from the towers below. The lake then burst dramatically to life with nautical shells to cheers from the audience followed by a huge front of purple mines and screaming whistling serpents as barrages of titanium salutes burst at mid level and huge shells burst above, causing a huge WOW in my notes and screams of delight from teh audience.

Introduction - Part 2 to the music Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins A fan of colour mines burst from the arc on ramp 4 as multicolour star shells fired above. The mine bursts repeated as did the bursts of matching multi-colour shells. This theme continued and was followed by silver rain shells left and right, forming a new motif. After this, high shells of star tipped pale gold dahlia comets followed by gold glitter crossettes as glitter comets and stars fired from the top of ramp 4. This theme continued and was augmented by the diadem dahlia shells which then formed the motif again briefly followed by a return to the glitter shells with pistils. This theme continued until the silver rain shells returned. These then increased in number and were augmented by the multicolour shells as well as silver rain bombette candles below. This theme continued until the candles finished and then as the music slowed, soft gerb sequences swooshed over the arcs on ramp 3 and then both ramp 3 and 4 eliciting ooohs from the audience. As the music returned in strength, gerb hits from both sides of the three towers were augmented by volleys of silver rain shells above, the segment coming to a close with a front of mines to cheers from the audience.

Dreams - Part 1 to the music Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds by The Beatles A short narration introduced this thematic section entitled Rock Loves Dreams. Tangerine-headed meteor comet candle fans were augmented by deep orange strobe shells above, perfecting fitting the lyric. Two dramatic sequence fans of starmine comets then fired from the arcs on ramp 3 followed by a burst of the same from the arc on ramp 4. Green shells with gold twinkling pistils then fired and again fit the lyric. A fan of blue mines was followed by volleys of pistil shells and then enormous fronts of dense gold mines that turned into dramatic scrambling stars, to gasps of surprise from the audience. Above these fronts, shells of gold comets that waved at the end as the scrambling star mines whizzed across the sky below. This theme continued alternating with the waving comet shells above and shells with crackling pistils and flights of tangerine-headed meteor comets below. Then a return to the inital tangerine theme with the deep strobe shells and comet fans below followed by a fan of starmine comets, a volley of studatas and a front of mines as the music moved to

Dreams - Part 2 to the music Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd High mines in silver turning to blue were followed by diadem dahlia shells with small pink angled mines below. This theme continued and was augmented by star shells a mid level. Then crossed gold comet bombette candles with diadem gold comet shells above. This theme continued and was followed by huge glitter comet shells with pistils turning to strobe and then suddenly a muzzle break of one of them, causing the audience to cheer and me to fear the damage that would be caused. The huge glitter comet shells continued, but firing stopped from the left of ramp 1. Fans of starmine comets fired from the arcs on ramp 3 and then more of the glitter comet with pistil shells at the right hand side, bringing the segment to a close.

Colour - Part 1 to the music Yellow by Cold Play A short narration introduced this thematic section entitled Rock Loves Colour. Dramatic horizontal yellow mines shot rhythmically from side to side of the three towers as yellow glitter studatas burst above on the right hand side. This theme continued and was followed by crackling rising tail shells of crackling comets in the centre and huge shells of yellow with crackling pistils on the right. This theme continued and became symettrical when the left hand side of ramp 1 suddenly came back to life (much to my relief at the time). Sequenced yellow mines fired in groups on ramp 3 followed by crossed yellow meteor comet candles with more yellow shells above and then a huge multi-break yellow shell. Angled mines marched across ramp 3 from left to right and then back again in time to the music as more yellow glitter comet mosaic studatas burst above. Then three fans of bright coloured crossette candles in red blue and green were agumented by shells of crossette comets above in yellow. This theme continued and was followed by shells of yellow with gold twinkling pistils, bringing the segment to a close.

Colour - Part 2 to the music Mr Blue Sky by ELO Note synchronized angled mine fronts of charcoal comets turning to blue were followed by a sequence of blue meteor comets from ramp 4 rising from left and right at the same time. Blue mines with gold serpents then marched in from the right on ramp 3 and back across to the right. Shells of seperent with blue pistils then fired above. Sequences of blue meteor comets fired back and forth on ramp 3 as the serpent shells continued. Vertical and crossed shots of blue meteor comets followed with volleys of blue star shells above and then blue smiling face shells. Three broad fans of blue mines then fired on ramp 3 and were followed by a volley of gold comet shells above. This sequence repeated several times and was followed by alternating shots of angled blue mines with gold serpents left and right. Black sky then surprised the audience for a few seconds - later I discovered there were to be 10" blue crossette ring shells at this point but they had been knocked out by the earlier muzzle break. Things got back on track with volleys of gold glitter comet shells with blue star pistils followed by a return to the blue meteor comet sequence and the blue smiley face shells. A return to the blue fan mine with gold glitter comet shell sequence followed by large star shells with go-getter pistils ending in crackle bursts and then two fans of starmine silver comets. A huge barrage of blue comet nautical shells then burst forth from the lake as fans of silver-blue crossette candles and the same in shells fired above. Then as the music eased, gold glitter comet shells turning to blue with crackling pistils together with charcoal horsetails turning to blue also. Crossed blue star candles then fired below as blue nautical flares lit up on the lake as deep gold horsetails fired serenely above followed by a front of dense gold mines which arched over to the lake as huge shells of gold glitter with blue pistils burst above, brining the segment to a close with another front of the dense gold mines to cheers from the audience.

Peace - Part 1 to the music Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon A short narration introduced this thematic section entitled Rock Loves Peace. Five peace signs were supposed to light up on the 5 floating platforms comprising ramp 5. For some reason, only sparse lances lit on each one, though they did cycle through 4 colour changes. The music then transitioned to

Peace - Part 2 to the music War by Edwin Starr Crossed star shots, mines of serpents and studatas broke dramatically as the transition to this song occurred. This theme continued and was followed by a front of dazzling mines with three huge farfalles above - green pistil in the centre and red at either side. Whistling serpents added into the mix as well as fans of serpents below. This theme continued and then was augmented by titanium salute volleys at mid level, more screaming serpents and shells of photoflash at a high level - giving a real war feel. Angled bright mine shots gave flash-like effects below on ramp five as the salutes, photoflash and whistles continued above. Then fans of candles of stars and serpents with star shells above followed by a huge mine burst from the arc on ramp 4 and then a return to the crossed star shots, studatas and serpent mines theme, bringing the segment to a close to huge cheers from the audience.

Peace - Part 3 to the music Imagine by John Lennon Volleys of kamuros marked a serene contrast to the previous song. Then broad fans of gold comet candles with shells of rings of blue-tipped crackling charcoal comets with sparkling pistils above. This theme continued and then shells of blue-tipped gold comets. Z cakes of blue stars bursting quietly to gold clusters were augmented by horsetail shells in gold above with twinkling tips. These were followed by large multicolour shells with strobing pistils and then large gold glitter shells with pistils all turning to gold strobes, bringing the segment to a close.

Love - Part 1 to the music Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns & Roses Dramatic sweeping fans of crackling strobing comets flew out from the arc on ramp 4 and then the two arcs on ramp 3 in addition as the narration introduced this thematic section entitled Rock Loves Love. Fans of the same comets with crackle mine bursts increased in number across ramp 3 and were augmented by glitter shells above. Then marching sequences of mines of crackle below as studatas burst above. These were followed by colour shells and larger shells with pistils. The smaller shells continued and were followed by half blue half red shells with twinkling pistils and shells with rising effects bursting into colour changing stars with colour changing pistils. Then huge shells with purple tipped gold comets which waved at the end as crackling pistils opened up after an initial pistil had appeared and disappeared together with other shells with waving comets. This theme continued causing me to exclaim WOW at the beauty of these marvellous shells! Suddenly star and mine sequences fired from the two arcs on ramp 3 as shells of crackle with crackling pistils fired above. The huge barrages of crackle shells continued and were then augmented by bombettes of crackling comets below. Next, fans of crossette comet candles as nautical red flares lit up on the lake. Dazzling mine shots appeared in the middle as the crossettes continued. Big fans of thick white comet candles were augmented by shells of go-getters above as suddenly mine blasts on the chords shot from the sides of the towers on ramp 3. These were followed by volleys of strobe shells and then fast Z cakes on ramp 3 as volleys of salutes fired above, bringing the segment to a close as the music moved straight into

Rock Loves Tonight! - Part 1 to the music One by U2 & Mary J. Blige Single glitter comet shots left and right formed the opening theme. Then the same in angled pairs from the centre. Broccade shells then fired above together with shells of crackling charcoal comets. The broccades continued with strobing pistils and then fans of glitter comet shots below. These were followed by diadem gold comet dahlia shells. Short duration mines fired below as star tipped kamuros fired above. This theme continued and then a return to the diadem comet dahlia shells as the mines continued below. A return to the star tipped kamuro theme as the mines continued and then glitter comet shelsl with twinkling pistils and some crackling pistils. This theme continued and was augmented by diadem comet shots from the towers on ramp 3 as huge kaleidoscope shells turning to kamuros fired above. Dense gold mines were then augmented by dense gold kamuros above this theme continuing and then augmented by a blast of the same mines from the arc on ramp 4, bringing the segment to a close.

Rock Loves This Evening! - Part 1 to the music Love Reign O'er Me by The Who A large fan of glitter comet candles fired across ramp 3 (though some aimed at the wrong angle) as short narration introduced this final thematic section entitled Rock Loves This Evening!. Dazzling strobing horsetails lit up everywhere as the glitter candle fan continued. Then dramatic comet sequences from several position on ramp 3 as huge shells burst above the horsetails. The huge glitter comet shells with twinkling pistils continued and were followed by kaleidscope shells at the left and right as huge fast comet sequence ripped from the arcs on ramp 3 and a burst of mines from the arc on ramp 4. The kaleioscopes continued and the comet and mine sequence returned below. Large half and half shells then fired above and were followed by the huge glitter comet to go-getter pistils shells as huge scrambling mines of go-getters fired below. These were followed by crackling comet crossette shells and then fans of bright colour crossette candles with the same in shells above. This theme continued and then was augmented by fast Z cakes of bright stars across ramp 3. The music then calmed and the towers and ramp 5 lit up with white strobes. Volley after volley of silver strobe shells then fired above with comet shells at a higher level. Barrages of crossed salutes added into the mix as the pace started to increase during the drum solo in the music. All hell then broke loose as massive barrages of huge shells fired above, dazzling mines and mines of salutes and massive fans of dazzling silver comets. I lost control, stamped my feet, screamed my head off as the pace went off the scale as the display was brought to a close by the most deafening barrage of salutes I can ever rememeber as huge colour strobe shells burst above to the most amazing cheers from the audience and a "buffer overflow" error from my camera as it couldn't cope with the intensity. I felt the same!

Walkout Song to the music Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) by George Harrison As the walkout music played, the audience roared in delight and gave the US team an incredible standing ovation. People were shaken from the intensity of the finale. My photographer colleague, Bob Burch, said that, at last, the finale was loud enough! Not long enough though!

This was a fabulous display from the debutant US team. Brilliant product, a well chosen and assembled sound track, excellent use made of all aspects of the display area in height, width and the use of the towers and arcs as well as the floating platforms an nautical shells. It had everything. The choregraphy was extremely well executed with great attention to detail in creating and using sequences in the way themes are used in music with a special attention to the colours and intensities used. A pity the 12" muzzle break caused a couple of small holes in an otherwise flawless display of pyrotechnic prowess. Any fear that the theme would be simplistic were unfounded as it was a very enjoyable and well developed. A couple of minor critcisms in that in certain parts a little more creativity in the use of the different levels of the display would have been appreciated (such as when just volleys of shells were firing) but this is a minor point. Must be a winner in this toughly fought year!


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