There is a proverb which describes the ultimate challenge – “… getting a camel through the eye of a needle”. Winning the Monaco Art in the Sky competition – getting your fireworks to impress the eagle-eyed Jury – comes close. The slightest slip-up and victory fades away with the flashes in the sky. That’s what happened to Spain. Bad luck struck with a lack of breeze on the evening. Instead of a brilliant cinematic display, dense smoke occasionally blurred the effect.
It’s not just the visual impact that counts, your synchronization with the music has to be perfect as well. One of the competitors got their timing slightly wrong and the music finished just as their finale was in mid-climax.
Being brilliant for ten minutes gets the jury’s attention, but is not necessarily enough to win the laurels. Italy mesmerized intermittently with its geometric shapes – their new technique of shooting the fireworks horizontally was a first in all the years of competition. But you have to keep the jury impressed for the whole 20 minutes. A hiccup with the electrics, the choice of music, choice and variety of colours; Murphy’s law – “if it can go wrong it will go wrong”.
Monaco’s fireworks competitions have been going for over 50 years, since 1966, in fact. The judging has evolved with the competition and has become very sophisticated. It is art and science combined. The judges, whose President is Andre Campana, mark on seven criteria.
It took the third of the four competitors, Portugal to score so highly as to raise the bar to almost impossible heights for the final competitor. It was Bulgaria who would be putting their show on last. The seven-member jury, two elected members from Monaco council and five distinguished persons from Monaco must have been truly enamoured by Portugal. The displays, the music, the flawless synchronization, the colours, the finale. As they say when everything comes together perfectly “on a scale of one to ten it was an eleven”.
And so Bulgaria approached the virtual impossibility of beating Portugal. Mount Everest with bad weather was their equivalent of the climb they needed to master to win – and the jury was not going to miss a 30 second “black hole” in their choreography. And when the music also stopped at the wrong time, out of sync with the critical part of Bulgaria’s finale – it was obvious that Portugal would be crowned 2018 Monaco, Art in the Sky champions.
This Summer’s heat wave has caused devastation, unfortunately, with out of control fires in Portugal. Ironically, though happily, there was nothing out of control about Portugal’s fireworks display in Monaco. It was masterful.
Monaco’s fireworks competitions are imitated but never beaten with their originality. The clamour of International entrants intensifies each year. Thirty years of fireworks displays since 1966 evolved in 1996 with its new form called “pyromelody” with rhythm and music becoming the name of the game (in addition, of course, to painting the sky). The brand-new name “Art in the Sky” for 2018 fittingly differentiates Monaco yet again from the pack.
Can Portugal pull it off again next year? England last achieved the near double with their 2012 and 2014 winning performances. HelloMonaco salutes all four of the 2018 competitors starting with Portugal who pockets the 10.000 euro first prize. Spain came in a worthy second with a 5.000 euro prize to show for it. Third was Bulgaria. And Italy with its impressive geometric displays managed fourth place. Congratulations all!