Tarantino Etudes
Performing Tarantino Etudes in Vancouver. Photo: Jan Gates

Last night was a sad night indeed: the final drops of my Slivovica — the plum schnapps of Slovakia — was shared among friends and loved ones… and I’m left wondering how one can acquire more of this in Canada. But while the schnapps may be gone, there is no lack of fond memories of the week spent in Bratislava, where I gave the premiere of Nicole Lizée‘s Tarantino Études at the Melos-Ethos Festival. We heard some incredible performances, met lovely people, ate excellent food, and I spent a good part of an evening discussing the movie “Slap Shot” with a bartender who was kind enough to introduce me to his country’s national drink.

Bratislava is a beautiful city, situated on the Danube River and extremely close to neighbouring Austria and Hungary. The old town is closed to motor vehicles, so it’s easy to get the sense of what the place was like in ages past. Tarantino Études was premiered on November 12, 2015 to a packed hall at a4-Zero Space, a contemporary/experimental performance venue with a diverse and enthusiastic following. Those in the know will appreciate the unbelievable amount of work that goes into creating a festival of this size: we’re talking fifteen events over seven days. Kudos to everyone at the Melos-Ethos Festival, especially Festival Director Ol’ga Smetanova.

Almost immediately after the premiere, Lizée and I were back in Vancouver for the North American premiere at Music on Main, which was celebrating its tenth anniversary with its largest Modulus Festival to date — all the more impressive when you consider that the number of MoM staff who made the week happen could all fit comfortably in the back of a Škoda (bravo to Dave, Melody, and Genevieve!). The evening of November 17th included music by Stefan Prins and Caroline Shaw, as well as Lizée’s Tarantino Études and Karappo Okesutura, featuring the Music on Main All Star Band with the incomparable Charlotte Cumberbirch.

And what about the piece itself, you ask? How is the Tarantino Études? Well, I’m perhaps a bit biased, but Lizée has created a serious multimedia masterpiece: hours and hours of film footage were obsessively combed through to find a handful of incredibly potent but unlikely moments musicaux, which are looped and glitched. The result is an audio-visual world that is at once mesmerizing, visceral, disturbing, and hilarious. For a wee taste, here’s an excerpt from the premiere performance at the Melos-Ethos Festival in Bratislava — but be forewarned: it is the Tarantino Études after all, so there is some, uh, “language”.

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