European Events Pyrotechnics

Corporate events are always looking for something spectacular, different and innovative to make them stand out from the rest. European Events asked Alchemy to work with them to add pyrotechnic excitement to an indoor laser and light musical spectacular. We included special pyro effects such as stage waterfalls, stage gerbs and theatrical flashes to wow the 1000+ audience, all perfectly choreographed with the music, lasers and lights using a timecode-driven soundtrack and our state-of-the-art digital FireOne firing system. Like our client and their guests, you might be surprised what you can achieve with the clever use of indoor pyrotechnics to enhance a laser show.

Bar Mitzvah Pyrotechnics

Bar Mitzvah Pyrotechnics

You can’t beat a good bar mitzvah (or a bat mitzvah, come to think of it) and we’ve produced displays for many of these coming-of-age events over the years. For his bar mitzvah at Sopwell House David wanted to make a grand entrance, inspired by the spectacular ring-walk pyrotechnics of his WWE Wrestling heroes. Despite the limited space we produced an effect using silver jets and stage gerbs that neither David nor his guests will ever forget.

Ramsgate Firefly Fiesta 2011

On the back of one of last year’s personal display highlights – the Monster Bass Festival – came a new end of summer event organised by Ramsgate Arts: the Firefly Fiesta. Alchemy Fireworks were commissioned to design a display to be choreographed to a new composition by local musician Mark Bandola. We provided production input based on our first-hand experience of working on the beach and dealing with all the issues that go along with that: moving lots of heavy kit over expanses of sand; rigging in the wind and rain with no shelter; keeping an eye on the tide while maximising safety distances to the audience; making sure that access to the firing site is controlled as the tide goes out and more of the beach is exposed. We also had to make sure that the display lived up to expectations despite a significant reduction in budget from the previous year’s event, and we wanted to guarantee that the digital choreography to the music was as impressive as ever.
Thankfully Mark’s composition made life easy for us. To me it implied slightly broader brush strokes than the previous year which meant that we could evoke the tone of the piece without being compelled to hit every accent. It contained graceful atmospheric movements, upbeat sections, and even a reggae interlude to provide real variety over the development of the piece. As a result we were spoilt for choice when it came to selecting the fireworks for the display, and the end result was really well-received, as this comment from event organiser testifies: “Your beautiful fireworks were absolutely the highlight of the event on Saturday. We have had countless comments from everyone including the Mayor about how stunning they were.”

Stockton Festival 2011

Stockton Festival 2011

Stockton International Riverside Festival is one of the biggest and longest-running street theatre festivals in the UK. Over the last 20 years it has gone from strength to strength under the careful watch of artistic director Frank Wilson from Event International. We’re proud to have contributed to several productions at Stockton over the years, but this latest extravaganza tops them all for several reasons.
Firstly: being up against it. Sometimes it happens. Especially in outdoor events. Especially in the UK. Despite all the planning and contingency and slack in production schedules, the weather is so bad for such a long continuous period of time that you simply can’t make progress safely. This is what hit the production team of Voala’s “High” show, to which we were contributing some pyro enhancement. The company had only been able to rehearse their stunning crane-based aerial routine once and just a few hours before the show itself.
Secondly: complexity and demands on space. As you can see from the photo, there was a lot going on in this show; on the ground, on the stage and especially up in the air. All of the show elements had to work as a team to make sure that performers, structures and crane jibs were clear of pyro airspace before the 3 pyro music tracks began, while avoiding excessive down-time when nothing was happening. It required a lot of concentration from a lot of people, a lot of cooperation from a lot of people, and great communication during the show itself.
The audience response to the whole production was great, and client feedback was unequivocal: “great work!”

Leeds Opera in the Park 2011

It’s an understatement to say that there isn’t a bottomless pit of money available for council-run public events these days. And although it’s obvious that fireworks aren’t a “frontline service”, there are very few cheaper ways to entertain people for such a low cost per person. Still, it’s as understandable as it is sad that many events and displays have simply fallen by the wayside. Some, however, are still operating on reduced budgets, and some previously free events have been given a stay of execution by making them ticketed and paid-for events. In the last camp is Leeds City Council’s Opera in the Park which has been running for several years now the night before the pop music Party in the Park event. Part of the sweetener for the now paying audience was the addition of a fireworks display choreographed to the final piece of the evening, and Alchemy were delighted to get the nod from Ian and Paul to produce this new display in the grounds of the stunning Temple Newsam stately home.
Due to a line of tall trees in the backstage area we came up with the solution of firing stage pyrotechnics from 3 cherry pickers located stage left, right and directly behind the apex of the orbit. These digitally fired short sharp sequences accentuated the detailed instrumentation of certain points of the music. In addition there were hundreds of shells, far enough back to compensate for the fact that large material was required for the effects to clearly visible to the audience over the trees.
It was really pleasing to get a call on the radio straight after the show from Paul to thank us for producing a fantastic firework display. And judging by the sound of the audience reaction to both the musical performance and the fireworks we think they felt it was money well spent.

Bedford Proms 2011

We were delighted when Mark Harrison and The Full Effect invited Alchemy Fireworks to work with him for the return of the Bedford Proms to its spiritual home in Bedford Park. Not only is the event right on our doorstep in Bedfordshire, but it also gives us the opportunity to work with various other event industry friends with whom we have built relationships over the years, such as Jason Price of JAP Sound and Steve Bell and Wilf Goddard who are Conductor and Manager respectively of the London Gala Orchestra. It also introduced us to singer and radio presenter Aled Jones, who we would also see the following week at Leeds Opera in the Park.
Like most outdoor classical firework concerts, the Bedford Proms takes place on a Saturday night. No problem for us. We gave up having a summer social life years ago. But if you’re Aled Jones and you have to get up before the crack of dawn to present your early Sunday morning radio show then you could be forgiven for wanting to get away from your Saturday night engagements as quickly as possible. The difficulty with Bedford Park is that the only vehicle exit from the backstage area runs through the firework display firing site, all of which meant that Aled had approximately 30 seconds to take his bow, skip off-stage, put on his helmet, jump onto the back of the motorbike waiting to take him home (we presume) and get safely through the firing area before we started our firework display. Conductor and Compere Steve Bell helped him out a little by talking to the audience between tracks, but I could still see the bike slipping through the gate and away from the rows of shells as the first of three big hits of mines went up to mark the start of O Fortuna. After that moto-excitement had got the adrenaline pumping we fired three spectacular sequences to tracks by Orff, Paul McCartney and Goodwin, all of which finished bang in time with the orchestra. The result? A thrilled audience and client. A safe Radio 2 DJ. A relieved senior firer.

Branscombe 2011

Looking back over the hectic summer firework season, I’m slightly sad that I have spent so much time in my waterproofs in the last 4 months. It’s 3 years on the trot now, and I’m starting to take it personally, as if I have some sort of Charlie Brown rain cloud following me. Of the dozen or so summer firework displays that I have been on site for, I can only think of 2 where it was warm, and sunny and dry. This was one of them, preparing a firework display for a private party on the South Devon coast.

In fact, when I think back over a longer period of time I can’t think of a time that it has rained on any Quintessentially Events gigs we have worked on. Or even the site visits. These guys really must have some important phone numbers in their little black book, and I for one, am very grateful for it. If I have a private party for my 30th (er, 40th?, Ed.) then as well as Alchemy Fireworks (naturally) I would definitely get QE along in the hope that their sunshine touch would over-power my rain jinx.

This gig was a real team effort, and we must thank the National Trust for giving us permission to fire the display from their beach. It is very easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that everyone is a party-pooper these days, but when we sent out notifications to the local residents all we received in response were requests for timings so that they could come and watch. So as well as the birthday party guests, our display was also enjoyed by a small gaggle of local residents, and a number of sea fishermen who were taking part in an all-night fishing competition.

What did the event organiser think of the display? “The fireworks were truly spectacular and the client said that it was the perfect end to the evening and really made the weekend special.”

Christ Church College Ball 2011

Most Colleges at Oxford University have been around for a very long time. And many of the buildings themselves have existed in their current form for hundreds of years. They are a beacon of educational achievement as well as major tourist attractions in their own right. So we were absolutely delighted when the committee of Christ Church College – on the recommendation of event company and long-standing Alchemy clients Relevent – selected Alchemy to produce the first ever fireworks display for their Commemoration Ball.

As you might imagine it wasn’t straightforward. As well as being a collection of historic and sensitive heritage buildings it is also a place that students, staff and other residents call home. It is also in a very built up area, and to fire an aerial show to be visible in Tom Quad form the nearest open land would have required massive material and an even bigger budget; the display would have risked being samey due to the minimum shell size required, and it certainly wouldn’t have been the right option for a show that would ideally be choreographed to music. So we put in the leg-work looking at alternative options. And brain-work coming up with a method statement and risk assessment that would give the College powers-that-be enough confidence in us to allow us fire from the rooftop of Tom Quad. (We must thank Simon for his help in smoothing the path of this proposal and obtaining this permission – and for his confidence in us too). Thus we were able to produce a spectacular low-debris display choreographed to Jupiter to mark the end of the Ball’s opening ceremony (I know, normally we’re involved at the end of an event, not the beginning, but these Balls go on all night)

The results, as regular readers will have come to expect, were spectacular, as was the feedback with Alchemy yet again singled out from all the contractors for individual praise from the event’s entertainments organiser: “Special thanks must go to Rob and Glen from Alchemy, whose astounding fireworks truly set the tone for evening.”