Matthew goes global at ISF

Hand in firework stunt - do nt try this at home!

Matthew Tosh’s success at communicating firework science to public and school audiences is being acknowledged internationally this month, as he speaks at the 16th International Symposium on Fireworks (ISF). On Tuesday 25th April, Matthew will talk to representatives from the worldwide firework industry about how he has developed demonstrations and narratives for stage shows to engage and inform audiences.

It’s his second ISF. At the 15th ISF in Bordeaux, overseas colleagues were quick to recognise Matthew’s passion and dedication for engaging with the public. They encouraged him to submit a paper on his work, particularly about his successful STEM education and public engagement.

Matthew will be highlighting the challenges of presenting to different audience abilities and scaling up shows to fill big stages which, if you aren’t careful, can easily reinforce the misconception that fireworks are just about noise and big explosions.

Matthew at the Science Museum London

“It’s much more subtle. It’s about showing the public how diverse and detailed this industry is.” says Matthew. “There is a lot of unseen work behind the scenes including research and development, firework and show design, risk assessments, mathematical modelling and meticulous planning. This is long before the first firework is even taken out of its packaging.”

“As an industry with materials that can be lethal if used incorrectly, we have a responsibility to communicate our work to our audiences. And how we communicate effectively and responsibly is an art in itself.”

The former science teacher also aims to raise awareness about firework safety and inspire young people about the creative possibilities with strong STEM skills and qualifications.

Matthew adds “Many careers in the live events and entertainment industries require good science and maths qualifications. It can be easily overlooked when careers advice is being given out to young people.”

The week-long Symposium is being held in Omagari in Northern Japan, the location of several huge firework festivals and celebrations in summer months. It is a gathering of professionals from all over the world to discuss cutting edge firework developments. Presentations will cover the research and development of firework ingredients, safety, transport and firework control technology. It’s also a chance for suppliers and traders to showcase their offerings.

And in case you were wondering… Yes, the Symposium features many firework displays!

Matthew will be providing updates from the 16th ISF via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

Matthew Tosh on stage at Swansea University

Matthew helps launch Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Matthew took part in a huge choreographed firework display to launch Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

Three and a half tonnes of fireworks were fired from two barges on The Humber in twelve minutes. It was a successful show which touched the imaginations of thousands of people.

The show was designed and operated by Titanium Fireworks Ltd, a provider of high-end large scale firework displays in the UK, including the London New Year fireworks on The Thames and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.

Titanium Fireworks directors approached Matthew during Summer 2016 about working on the Hull show and, in particular, using his skills to engage audiences with some of the behind-the-scenes operations.

It’s the first time that a professional firework display of this scale has had such specialist coverage in the UK.

With his highly unique combination of TV presenting and professional fireworks experience, Matthew produced exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the show preparations. He talked about safety considerations, featured fellow team members and explained some of the technical aspects of the show.

Matthew says “The feedback, particularly via social media, has been tremendous. I think we captured the spirit of this special year for Hull.”

His content was shared by official Hull 2017 and Titanium Fireworks Ltd PR teams, helping to increase audience engagement in the lead up to the launch of Hull 2017.

Matthew’s passion for live broadcast shone through too, when he fronted a number of Facebook live videos as the barges moved into position on The Humber.

Matthew Tosh - fireworks in HullUnsurprisingly, his press and media skills were in demand; escorting TV news crews on site and providing interviews on behalf of Titanium Fireworks for BBC Look North regional news, BBC Radio Humberside and local newspapers.

In Matthew’s own words, filming on a fireworks rig of this magnitude isn’t straightforward. “Aside from the obvious safety issues, there are often many commercial, event security and creative sensitivities. What’s more, you don’t want to give too much away and spoil the show!”

But as Matthew consistently demonstrates, he finds that balance perfectly, using his enthusiasm, industry knowledge and occasionally witty style to ensure that the audience is engaged.

Between filming and editing, Matthew was able to assist with shell-loading and got thoroughly mucky on the de-rig.

Follow Matthew’s work on Facebook and Twitter.

Fireworks above the ice in Bristol

At-Bristol has commissioned Matthew to produce a rooftop firework spectacular for the launch of its ice skating rink and festive fair.

The evening, themed all around fire and ice, will see Matthew and his team firing a display from the roof and balcony of the hands-on science centre, which overlooks Millennium Square and the ice rink.

Matthew is no stranger to science centres; the presenter regularly works alongside science centre programmes and festivals across the country, often presenting his own science stage shows.

On 3rd November, he will be turning his firework production skills to the skies over the centre of Bristol, in what he describes as a family friendly show which will take the themes of fire and ice into the air.

Image credit: At-Bristol/Joe Meredith Photography

Image credit: Joe Meredith Photography

Matthew says that it is an appropriate, but unusual location to work.

“I’ve worked inside At-Bristol several times, but stepping onto the roof is something else. You get a really unusual perspective of Millennium Square, whilst the cathedral looks over your shoulders.”

“I can’t wait to put science into action… on the roof of a science centre. It’s a perfect location!”

The fireworks will take place after the festive lights switch-on at around 6:10pm. It is free to attend.

More information is available here: https://www.at-bristol.org.uk/event/millennium-square-festive-fair-firework-special or by visiting the event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1725241424466238/

Matthew to headline at British Science Festival Beach Party

Matthew Tosh will be headlining at the British Science Festival Beach Party on 9th September.

Matthew at workIn his most ambitious project to date, Matthew takes over a Swansea beach and a rugby ground to stage a spectacular large-scale demonstration of creative science.

It’s big science and it is guaranteed to thrill.

Add in the beach party atmosphere and this can only be an evening of science communication with a difference.

Up in the air

Matthew will stage live and full-scale demonstrations to explain how chemistry, physics and engineering combine to create firework displays. But this is not an ordinary lecture or stage show with table-top demonstrations; Matthew will be using a nearby rugby ground to physically launch some of his demonstrations hundreds of metres into the air for his audience to see.

And then, in true Tosh-style, he brings the entire ensemble of science, maths and engineering together by unleashing a fully-choreographed musical firework display.Matthew on stage

Matthew’s creation forms the centrepiece of the chemistry-themed Beach Party, providing an energetic finale to the British Science Festival and an exciting opener for the Family Fringe weekend.

Expect to witness the chemistry of colour and light, feel the physical demonstrations of shockwaves and learn how designers use maths to exploit these properties in conjunction with cutting-edge digital control systems.

Matthew is renowned for his dramatic, informative and entertaining stage shows. He draws on over eleven years of professional fireworks and broadcasting experience to present his unique wow-factor shows that engage and inspire audiences of all ages.

Matthew Tosh on stageKeen to reach out to a non-traditional science festival audience, Matthew was quick to rise to the challenge of a beach party when he was first approached by the British Science Association earlier in the year.

“I’ve had a similar idea brewing for a while, not least because I have done several November displays on a beach. So why not create a large-scale science demonstration on a beach instead?”

The event is FREE to attend thanks to generous support by The Royal Society of Chemistry, but you’ll need to register for entry to the party using the link below.

Tickets and registration information: https://www.britishsciencefestival.org/event/the-beach-party

The British Science Festival, hosted by Swansea University and supported by Siemens, takes place between 6 – 9 September, with events on campus and across the city of Swansea. You can find out more about the festival and what’s on by visiting the British Science Festival website.

Rising to the challenge at Cheltenham Music Festival

“Is it possible to do fireworks to music indoors?” said the Music Festival Manager.

That’s precisely what Matthew has done in his latest project.

Chelt Music Festival 2016

As part of a concert entitled “Baroque Favourites and Fireworks”, Matthew was commissioned to design an indoor fireworks display at this year’s Cheltenham Music Festival.Barokksolistene and Matthew Tosh

The festival team approached Matthew in 2015 with an embryonic suggestion, citing it as being possibly too ambitious. Not one to be put off by such a challenge, Matthew worked with the production team and the venue managers at Cheltenham Town Hall to create a spectacular finish to an energetic performance by the Norwegian group Barokksolistene.

“A challenge with this sort of performance is ensuring that the performers are not put off once the pyrotechnics start.” said Matthew, following his introduction and briefing with the orchestra.

For many of them, this was the first time that they’d encountered pyrotechnics close up.

There are safety and practical considerations too as Matthew points out. “We don’t want to damage anything on stage and we certainly don’t want to make woodwind or brass players cough during the concert.”Waterfall units

Matthew’s preparation and careful choice of effects certainly paid off. The audience smiled and were visibly engaged as the fireworks began in the final movement of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks.

Barokksolistene Musical Director Bjarte Eike insisted that Matthew took two bows to a packed out Town Hall following the finale, which included waterfall effects, mines, airbursts and fountains, all choreographed “in perfect time”, according to several of the string players.

The concert was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Presenter Fiona Talkington clearly enjoyed the spectacle. Commenting afterwards, she described Matthew as “a real pyrotechnic artist” as she recounted the cascades of colour and fountains rising on the steps in front of the organ.

Acting Festival Manager Anna Pickton said “What a fantastic and exciting element to have in a classical music concert. It added an unexpected ‘something extra’ to the evening.”Matthew Tosh in rehearsals

British Firework Championships 2015

British Firework ChampionshipsThe British Firework Championships take place this week and Matthew has been invited to be on the crew for the Gala Fireworks competition display.

A regular face at the annual Plymouth event, both as a supporter and participant, Matthew has crewed on several competition shows to date. He is favoured for his logical, calm, focussed approach and attention to detail under high-pressured competition scenarios.

Matthew said: “It is a strong line-up this year and competition is going to be stiff. I’m looking forward to working with Gala Fireworks.”

The teams competing in this year’s competition are:

Tuesday 18th August

  1. Phoenix Fireworks
  2. Spyrotechnics
  3. Essex Pyrotechnics

Wednesday 19th August

  1. Fantastic Fireworks
  2. Gala Fireworks
  3. 1st Galaxy Fireworks

Each company is required to fire a ten-minute display and is judged on various aspects of the display including the artistry, use of effects, timing, safety and even the actual rigging.

The shows are fired from Mount Batten breakwater and the main viewing area is on the Hoe. It’s a free event and more information can be found by visiting www.britishfireworks.co.uk/bang.

Summer gigs – Battle Proms concert series

Matthew will be supervising fireworks for the 2015 series of the Battle Proms open air concerts.Battle Proms fireworks - Hatfield House

Bristol-based Skyburst, The Firework Company has commissioned Matthew to manage the rigs at four out of the five concerts which take place across the country during July and August.

Favoured for his musical show experience and safety awareness, coupled with his methodical approach and attention to detail on firework displays, Matthew will oversee the on-site operations for the displays which are fired to live orchestra.

“These shows cannot be fully computer operated as they are being choreographed to live music. Each performance will be slightly different, due to changes of tempo by the conductor and orchestra.” said Matthew.

When asked how fireworks are timed to live music, Matthew added: “We split the show into programmed segments. We follow the orchestral score and fire the relevant segment when that bit comes up in the music.”

“Some of the crew (including me!) need to be able to read music so that we can fire in time with the orchestra, but we still need to anticipate some of the shots to get the timing spot on. It does take skill and practice.”

Matthew will be managing the fireworks at Burghley House, Hatfield House, Highclere Castle and Ragley Hall.

And for those asking (yes, we know several of you like to know!), he will be pressing the fire buttons at Burghley House, Highclere Castle and Ragley Hall.

For tickets and concert information, visit www.battleproms.com.

Matthew to host election results coverage in Bristol

Matthew in radio studioWith the general election upon us, Matthew will be hosting an election night special on local radio in Bristol.

He’ll anchor a discussion and results show through the night from 10pm until breakfast, featuring interviews, reactions, live links with reporters at the counting centres across the city and examing the national picture as results come in from around the UK.

Matthew is well known for thriving on live performance situations and broadcast. Speaking earlier today, he said: “This is going to be an exciting night. It’s one of the most unpredictable elections in living memory and this, in turn, adds an extra layer of excitement to a live broadcast.”

BCfm Station Manager, Patrick Hart, approached Matthew with the broadcast proposal in early March.

Although most people know Matthew for his event and pyrotechnics work, he is no stranger to marathon live broadcasts. He has presented live web-streamed coverage of the National Twelve Bell Final for the past two years to a global audience.

The election night broadcast starts at 22:00 on 7th May. It will be available across Bristol on 93.2FM, online via www.bcfmradio.com and simulcast with www.piratenationradio.com.

Le Maitre to sponsor flagship science show

Le Maitre logoMatthew Tosh is delighted to announce that Le Maitre Ltd will be sponsoring a flagship charity science show during British Science Week (13-22 March). The show has been commissioned by the British Science Association (BSA) and Kids Company in association with the Science Museum.

Matthew was asked to produce a show that is a first introduction to the fun, creativity and wonder of science for children who wouldn’t have access to such opportunities. Known for his enthusiastic and engaging style, both with and without pyrotechnics, Matthew is thrilled to be able to help.

A range of effects from UK manufacturer Le Maitre will be used in the show to demonstrate exciting science in action and, in true Matthew style, he has a few tricks up his sleeves.
Matthew with VS flares“One of my aims is to allow audiences to appreciate the broader aspects of science and the skills you get from studying the STEM subjects at school. Many of these skills are used throughout the live events, stunts and entertainment industry, which can so easily be overlooked.”

“2015 is the International Year of Light, and so it is only natural that I should want to include the vibrant colours that Le Maitre pyrotechnics offer, especially with their terrific “VS – virtually smokeless” range.”

Le Maitre Virtually Smokeless logo

“Le Maitre is delighted to be supporting British Science Week at the Science Museum by providing pyrotechnics for the show. We have worked with Matthew on several occasions and he has a great way of getting kids excited about science. The children from Kids Company are in for a treat!” Says Sally Dobinson, Marketing Manager, Le Maitre Ltd.

Matthew will present the show to over 400 children from Kids Company’s London schools programme. Kids Company is a children’s charity that provides emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children and young people.

The BSA is organising the event for British Science Week in partnership with the Science Museum. The BSA wants to increase and diversify the amount of people who participate in and enjoy science.

Matthew added: “Even if you don’t go on to study science beyond school, I want to ensure that people are excited and comfortable by science in use around them.”

Matthew joins One Love Breakfast

One Love Breakfast logoMatthew has joined the award-winning One Love Breakfast team on Bristol’s BCfm 93.2 and Ujima 98. He can be heard reading the half-hourly radio news and travel bulletins on one or two mornings each week.

He is already a familiar voice on BCfm with the weekly ShoutOut LGBT programme. Matthew says that he is delighted to be part of the breakfast team. “I’ve wanted to do contribute more to my home city media output for some time and given that I enjoy using my voice, this is a great opportunity.”

“The transition to radio has really made me focus on my intonation and pacing. Radio is extremely evocative; the power of the human mind to create images from spoken word outweighs what you can achieve in vision or on stage.”

One Love Breakfast airs 07:00-10:00 Monday to Thursday on BCfm 93.2FM and Ujima 98FM across Bristol and is also available online.