L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2006
Montréal International Fireworks Competition Report
Another great year in the history of the competition. Despite a slow start and some unusal events which delayed the start of two displays, the competition really heated up after the second week. In general, the weather was good, with only one evening marred by rain, and even then it wasn't too heavy, but it did hinder my note-taking. Unusally strong winds early in the competition delayed the start of the Argentinian display and a power failure at La Ronde before the South African performance also delayed their start.
Creativity was present this year and an interesting return to somewhat less complex displays than has been the recent trend. We had got to the point where displays were regularly using over 5000 cues, but not to particularly good effect. It was refreshing to return to a style which, while using electronic firing, was not mechanical or overpowering. Even the most complex display this year, with over 4000 cues, were not overwhelming in their implementation but had plenty of room for nuance and a feeling of humanity. On the musical side, we had some really innovative concepts from Brezac and Fiatlux and excellently produced themes from Foti and Melrose, not forgetting good performances from Fireworks for Africa and Macedo's Pirotecnia. Some of the musical choices were somewhat predictable, but the production was well done, particularly in the case of Foti's display. Good use was made of the lake this year, especially from two of the incumbants. Nothing too new on the pyrotechnics side, but then with seeing so many displays over the years, that's not really too surprising. The only memorable effect that I've not seen used here before were the dazzling white strobing Niagara Falls shells that Melrose used. That said, we did have excellent colours in many of the displays and some big finales.
As usual, I will present a summary of each display and then
give my personal rankings together with my prediction for
the popular jury's votes. This time, I'm not tabulating the number of
pages of notes I wrote since I used two books of different sized pages so it's
hard to make a fair comparison.
Firing System / cues
|Switzerland - Bugano||Wireless Pyrodigital / 2089||
This was an enjoyable display but there wasn't really a strong theme. Good quality product and choregraphy the sometimes worked well and sometimes didn't.
|Italy - Soldi||FireOne / ~1200||
Beautiful product which worked well with the music choses, though not a particularly strong theme. Sadly, a technical failure which caused 2:35 seconds of darkness removes this display from contention and continues Soldi's run of bad luck in Montreal. Would surely have been a contender if everything had worked.
|Argentina - Cienfuegos||Firemaster / ~600
Manual / ~200
A good strong theme that was well executed and the first standing ovation from the audience this year. Excellent use made of the lake, particularly the comet sequences in the finale. The display evoked memories of the "golden age" of the fireworks competition and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Synchronization was a bit weak in parts and there were a couple of repetitious segments and so I don't think Cienfuegos quite make it into the final contenders.
|South Africa - Fireworks for Africa||Firemaster / ~1100
+ 133 sequencers
A fabulous display from the African debutants. Brilliant 100% Spanish product throughout dazzled the audience. Amazing use of nautical shells which caused many WOWs in my notes. A good strong theme but some missed the reference to Africa's first astronauts in the music (myself included despite reading the press release). The first display that was obviously in contention for a Jupiter.
|Portugal - Macedo's Pirotecnia||Firemaster / ~2100||
Another fantastic display from a debutant. Somewhat predictable music, but extremely well executed with brilliant products and more incredible use of the lake evoking yet more WOWs in my notes. Another display obviously in contention for a Jupiter.
|Canada - Concept Fiatlux||FireOne / ~3000
An incredibly artistic and well produced display with a very theatrical style, evoking the feeling of a Cirque du Soleil performance. Amazing use made of three dimensional space with the inclusion of ramp 5 augmenting rather than masking the staging area. Very well produced musical track, but perhaps lacking a bit in variation of pace with not enough contrasts to bring the audience to a high point (though this was not the stated intent anyway). Some of the products somewhat repetitious, but a very artistic and well produced display. Yet another contender.
|USA - Melrose||PyroDigital / ~4000||
A big-time brilliant and exciting display, true to the Broadway theme. Flawless synchronization and excellent choregraphy without ever being overwhelming of mechanical. Dazzling and exciting, the audience were dancing in their seats. A somewhat predictable soundtrack, but well executed nevertheless. Not much use made of the lake though the presence of ramp 5 was well integrated into the display without masking the staging area. Great response from the audience and an almost certain Jupiter award for this debutant.
|France - Brezac||Pyrodigital / ~1500||
Brilliantly executed display with a very well chosen soundtrack seamless flowing from the beginning of time, through the dinosaur era, Egyptian times all the way through the Renassiance to modern times. The fireworks were always in perfect harmony with the soundtrack and the precision of the choreography and firing angles was remarkable. One of the most innovative displays I've ever witnessed in the competition. Must surely receive a Jupiter if the Jury understood the theme.
|Australia - Foti||FireOne / ~4800||
The best produced soundtrack of the competition. It had everything, highs, lows and dramatic moments. By far the strongest opening of any display in the past few years and a brilliant faux and real finales with lots of tension and anticipation. Beautiful product used on ramps 3 4 and 5 and a great use made of the staging area. Shipping problems meant that the shells weren't up to the quality of the rest of the material but still very well done with the largest arsenal of the competition. A couple of small technical problems here and there may rob them of the Gold Jupiter, but they will certainly be in the top three.
Paul's jury predictions
- Gold Jupiter - Australia
- Silver Jupiter - USA
- Bronze Jupiter - France
Paul's personal choice
- Gold Jupiter - Australia
- Silver Jupiter - France
- Bronze Jupiter - USA
I'm very grateful to all the dedicated staff at La Ronde who work untold hours to make this competition happen. Many people would be shocked to see how much work is required to pull off this competition so flawlessly every year. So special thanks to Martyne Gagnon, Paul Csukassy, Nadia Goyer, Nathalie Cooke and, of course, Len Turtora, Director of La Ronde as well as everyone else whom space doesn't permit me to mention. Once again, you gave me a memorable summer and a chance to indulge my passion.
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 exceptionally difficult job of deciding three winners from
six deserving display.
For a different perspective on the displays, take a look at
Georges Lamon's web site.
His reports are in French, but the on-line translation programs give a good sense of his thoughts.
Thanks to the public relations people of La Ronde for the official
press release material, shown in white.