The Birth of a Popular Event
Le Concours international d'art pyrotechnique de Montréal, known for the past few years as L'International des Feux Loto-Québec, was founded in 1985 at La Ronde, which was created for Expo '67, and which ranks as the largest amusement park in Québec. Right from the very first year, the competition was a smaching success. La Ronde was filled to capacity on the evenings when fireworks presentations were scheduled, and the city of Montréal witnessed unprecedented levels of crowd movement. More than 5.7 million people attended the displays during that first season, setting a record in Canada for this type of event. As a result of this extraordinary success, the competition was brought back for the following year, and has been an annual event ever since, attracting crowds of enthusiasts that include citizens form the Greater Montréal Area and large numbers of tourists.
The Pyromusical Arts at Their Best
At the outset, the competition included two types of shows : traditional, so-called ''classical'' fireworks displays; and pyromusical displays involving careful synchronization of the fireworks to a musical score. Since 1987, the displays have been exclusively pyromusical. Over the years, the competition has carved out a place at the summit of the pyrotechnical industry. The leading firms in the world set their sights on participating in the Montréal event, striving to attain the highest distinction in their field.
As testimony to its illustriousness, the competition received a laudatory article in the prestigious New York Times published on June 27, 2008 in ''Escapes'', its Travel Section. Reporter Henry Fountain described the event as ''a world-class competition'' and wrote that Montreal was ''a city known for its festivals'' and where the International Fireworks Competition L'International des Feux Loto-Québec is like ''exclamation marks'' that punctuate the summer evenings in the city.
Montréal : A City of Connoisseurs
Year in and year out, near to 3 million fireworks enthusiasts gather at La Ronde, on the Jacques Cartier Bridge, and on either side of the river to take in the spectacle. In fact, Montréalers are now one of the most informed publics in the world when it comes to fireworks, and they genuinely value the work of the participating pyrotechnicians.
Moreover, the pyrotechnicians, who are accustomed to playing a supporting role during festivities in their native countries, have become the true stars of the evening in Montréal. At La Ronde, they are considered to be artists in their own right, and not just explosives technicians.
Homage to Giovanni Panzera
In its third year, the Montréal International Fireworks Competition enlisted the services of Giovanni Panzera as artistic director. He brought to the event his vast experience in the field. He was the initiator of the first musical fireworks displays ever held in Europe and an organizer of the Cannes Fireworks Competition from 1973 to 1983. Mr. Panzera also finetuned the famous Roman Candle for his own company, Panzera S.A.S., based in Turin, Italy. The year 2000 marked the end of the close association between the ''maestro'' of pyromusical arts and La Ronde for Giovanni Panzera died on September 6 at the age of 70. His fine artistic sense and his unsurpassed knowledge of the fireworks industry enabled him to set the tone for the Competition and to play a signaficant role in the event's success. His mission was to make Montréal the hub of pyrotechnic arts and to bring about an expert appreciation amoung the public. From 1987 to 2000, he had the honour of presenting the closing night displays for the event; all those who saw them acknowledged, unanimously, that they reflected the work of a master of the pyromusical arts.