CTRL+ALT+REPEAT is an experimental music series that focuses on cutting-edge electronic music, improvisation, contemporary classical music, and sound art. The Spring 2011 edition will feature Morton Feldman’s 1951 string quartet Structures and Christina Kubisch’s Vibrations for string quartet and vibrators, performed by the Community MusicWorks Players alongside performances by Ernst Karel, Lyn Goeringer and Mem1. This concert is presented in conjunction with Community MusicWorks and is made possible in part by a grant from the Brown University Creative Arts Council.


Morton Feldman (born January 12, 1926, died September 3, 1987) was an American composer. He is best known for his mature instrumental pieces which are frequently written for unusual groups of instruments, feature isolated, carefully chosen, predominantly quiet sounds, and are often very long.

Feldman was born in New York City. He studied piano with Madame Maurina-Press, a pupil of Ferruccio Busoni, and later composition with Wallingford Riegger and Stefan Wolpe. He did not agree with many of the views of these composition teachers, and he spent much of his time simply arguing with them. Feldman was composing at this time, but in a style very different to that he would later be associated with.

In 1950, Feldman went to hear the New York Philharmonic give a performance of Anton Webern’s Symphony. At the concert, he met John Cage, and the two became good friends. Under Cage’s influence, Feldman began to write pieces which had no relation to compositional systems of the past, such as the constraints of traditional harmony or the serial technique. He experimented with non-standard systems of musical notation, often using grids in his scores, and specifying how many notes should be played at a certain time, but not which ones. Feldman’s experiments with the use of chance in his composition in turn inspired John Cage to write pieces like the Music of Changes, where the notes to be played are determined by consulting the I Ching.

Through Cage, Feldman met many other prominent figures in the New York arts scene, among them Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston and Frank O’Hara. He found inspiration in the paintings of the abstract expressionists, and though the 1970s wrote a number of pieces around twenty-minutes in length, including Rothko Chapel (1971, written for the building of the same name which houses paintings by Mark Rothko) and For Frank O’Hara (1973).

Later, he began to produce his very long works, often in one continuous movement, rarely shorter than half an hour in length and often much longer. These works include Piano and String Quartet (1985, around eighty minutes), For Philip Guston (1984, around four hours) and, most extreme, the String Quartet II (1983), which is over five hours long without a break. It was given its first complete performance at Cooper Union, New York City in 1999 by the FLUX Quartet, who issued a recording in 2003 (at 6 hours and 7 minutes). Typically, these pieces do not change in mood throughout and tend to be made up of mostly very quiet sounds. Feldman said himself that quiet sounds had begun to be the only ones that interested him.

Feldman married the composer Barbara Monk shortly before his death in 1987 at his home in Buffalo, New York.


The following note was originally published with the LP recording of Feldman’s piece by the Concord String Quartet (The Avant Garde String Quartet in the USA, VoxBox SVBX-5306, 1973) and later re-published in the liner notes when the recording was reissued on CD (American String Quartets 1950 – 1970, VoxBox CDX 5143, 1995).

Although Morton Feldman’s best-known innovation is the devising of graphical scores that permit a range of choices (of, say, pitches to be made by the performer), the present composition is not such a work. It is as fully notated as any classical quartet. In fact, it has been remarked that it could well serve as an example of how the composer himself might realise one of his graphical scores. This is precisely what Feldman actually did. He sketched out a plot of what one might call musical events (versus elapsed performance time), filling in this graph until it satisfied him. It should be understood that this was not a literal plot of, say, frequency versus time but a general guide to laying out event successions. Once this was done, Feldman then transcribed the material into a precisely notated conventional score so that performances of this piece are relatively fixed. This particular compositional technique he has only used twice, once in the present instance and once in composing, also in 1951, a piano piece for Merce Cunningham, who then choreographed it as “Variations” for solo dancer.

Structures for String Quartet turns out to be a short composition in one movement always played as quietly as possible – another Feldman specialty. The “structures” of the piece follow one another in a quite straightforward linear pattern. The opening section is pointillistic and sparse in texture. This is followed by what I will call, for lack of a better word, a series of quasi-ostinato passages. Each one of these is almost but not quite a precisely fixed ostinato of a type almost resembling a tape loop in electronic music. Four of these occur in sequence separated by short rests or simple intervening chords. A second pointillistic passage, reminiscent of the opening, appears next and this is followed by two more quasi-ostinati and a concluding section again reminiscent of the opening. The dialectic of the piece thus is one of emptiness versus density, and of irregularity versus periodicity.
—Lejaren Hiller


Christina Kubisch was born in Bremen in 1948. She studied painting, music (flute and composition) and electronics in Hamburg, Graz, Zürich and Milano, where she graduated. Performances, concerts and works with video in the seventies, subsequently sound installations, sound sculptures and work with ultraviolet light. Her compositions are mostly electroacoustic, but she has written for ensembles as well. Since 2003 she works again as a perfomer and collaborates with various musicians and dancers.

Numerous grants and awards, such as the Award of the German Industrial Association (BDI), composition grant of the city of Berlin, Carl Djerassi Honorary Fellowship, California, IASPIS residency grant, Stockholm.

Since 1974 solo exhibitions in Europe, USA, Australia, Japan and South America. Numerous participations in international festivals and group exhibitions such as: Pro Musica Nova, Bremen 1976/ 1980, Für Augen und Ohren, Berlin 1980, Biennale of Venice, 1980 / 1982, Gaudeamus Music Festival 1984, documenta 8, Kassel 1987, Ars Electronica, Linz 1987, Steirischer Herbst, Graz 1987, Biennale of Sydney 1990, Donaueschinger Musiktage, 1993 /1997, Prison Sentences, Philadelphia 1995, Sonambiente, Berlin 1996, in medias res, Istanbul 1997, festival d’art sonor, Barcelona 1999, Sonic Boom, London 2000, Visual Sound, Pittsburgh 2001, Singuhr-Hörgalerie, Berlin 2002, activating the medium festival, San Franciso 2003, sounding spaces, Tokyo 2003, Musik und Raum, Lucerne Festival 2004, Resonance – The Electromagnetic Bodies Project, ZKM, Karlsruhe 2005, Her Noise, South London Gallery, London 2005, Stockholm New Music 2006..

Her music has been released with various labels such as Cramps Records, Edition RZ, ampersand, semishigure, Die Schachtel, Olof Bright.

Christina Kubisch has been visiting professor in Maastricht, Paris and Berlin. She is a professor for sound art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Saarbrücken, Germany, since 1994 and a member of the Akademie der Künste Berlin since 1997. She lives in Hoppegarten near Berlin.


Vibrations was written by Christina Kubiisch in 1975, during a time when she was working closely with visual artist Fabrizio Plessi. Together, they composed and performed pieces that focused on bridging traditional instrumentation with the use of objects not typically regarded as musical instruments.

Vibrations is written for string quartet or an ensemble comprised of two or more string players and electric vibrators. The size of a given vibrator is to correspond to the size of instrument on which it is used, and in a way, the vibrator acts as a replacement for the bow. The musicians are instructed to gently place it against the instrument, first starting at the base of the neck and slowly moving to the pegbox and then the strings, exciting overtones and harmonics along the way. The movement continues to the bridge, tailpiece, and finally the end-pin. These quiet resonances are amplified by contact microphones placed on the bodies of the instruments. To our knowledge, this is the U.S. Premiere of Vibrations and its first public performance in over thirty years.


Community MusicWorks Players is a flexible ensemble which includes members of the Providence String Quartet, participants in Community MusicWorks’ Fellowship Program, and guest artists. The creation of the CMW Players allows Community MusicWorks to present more varied repertoire, include more musicians, and provide additional concerts for audiences in Rhode Island and beyond.


Ernst Karel is a musician, sound recordist, composer, and anthropologist of sound. His two newest CD projects, on the Gruenrekorder and and/OAR record labels, are constructed with unmanipulated location recordings edited as imageless observational cinema. He performs and records improvised experimental electronic and electroacoustic music using modular analog electronics and/or location recordings, including the electroacoustic duo project EKG with Kyle Bruckmann, and the New England Phonographers Union. In addition to his own work, he also does sound editing, mixing, and sound design for nonfiction and experimental film and video. Musicians with whom Karel has performed on trumpet and/or analog electronics include Michael Zerang, Otomo Yoshihide, Weasel Walter, Sabine Vogel, Ken Vandermark, TV Pow, Gino Robair, Vic Rawlings, Key Ransone, Gert-Jan Prins, Polwechsel, Jeff Parker, Toshimaru Nakamura, Helen Mirra, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Annette Krebs, Jason Kahn, Jeph Jerman, Giuseppe Ielasi, Steven Hess, Chris Heenan, Boris Hauf, David Grubbs, Kevin Drumm, Bobby Conn, Audrey Chen, Cheer-Accident, Lucio Capece, Alessandro Bosetti, Blowhole, Olivia Block, Thomas Ankersmit, Jason Ajemian, Josh Abrams, and others.


Lyn Goeringer was born and raised in Colorado. She began playing piano when she was 6 years old, and quickly became interested in playing any instrument she could get her hands on. By the time she was 12, she began composing works for piano, and focused on classical music composition until her early twenties when she became immersed in the Providence, Rhode Island noise community.

She studied music composition at the University of Rhode Island under Geoffrey Gibbs, Joe Parillo and Eliane Aberdam. From 2002-2005 she attended Bard College, where her works were guided by artists from many different disciplines. Due to the unusual structure at Bard, she was able to engage in regular studio visits from several different disciplines including film/video, writing, painting, sculpture and music/sound. It was during this time that she was able to begin seriously study electronics under the tutelage of Bob Beilecki.

While attending Bard College in New York, Goeringer lived part of the year in Seattle, WA where she engaged in the local improvisation and music composition scene. She composed many acoustic and electronic works during her time there, and laid the groundwork for her future collaborative projects with choreographer Jürg Koch.

Goeringer currently resides in Rhode Island, and is an active member in the local arts and music community.


Mem1 seamlessly blends the sounds of cello and electronics to create a limitless palette of sonic possibilities. In their improvisation-based performances, Mark and Laura Cetilia’s use of custom hardware and software, in conjunction with a uniquely subtle approach to extended cello technique and realtime modular synthesis patching, results in the creation of a single voice rather than a duet between two individuals. Their music moves beyond melody, lyricism and traditional structural confines, revealing an organic evolution of sound that has been called “a perfect blend of harmony and cacophony” (Forced Exposure).

Founded in Los Angeles in 2003, Mem1 has traveled extensively, performing at Issue Project Room, Roulette, REDCAT / Disney Hall, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Electronic Church (Berlin), the Laptopia Festival (Tel-Aviv), the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, and the Borealis Festival (Bergen). They have taken part in residencies at Harvestworks in New York, STEIM and Kunstenaarslogies in the Netherlands and USF Verftet in Bergen, Norway. In 2009, they created a site-specific installation for the Museums of Bat Yam (Israel); their collaborative works with media artists Kadet Kuhne and Liora Belford have been screened and installed at venues including the Sundance Film Festival, Fringe Exhibitions (Los Angeles), and the Hordaland Kunstsenter (Bergen). Throughout their career, they have collaborated with a variety of artists including the Penderecki String Quartet, Steve Roden, Jan Jelinek, Frank Bretschneider, and Stephen Vitiello. Age of Insects, a full-length album with Vitiello, will be released in May 2011 by Dragon’s Eye Recordings. Together, Mem1 curates the experimental music series Ctrl+Alt+Repeat and the record label Estuary Ltd., on which they released their fourth full-length album, Tetra.