Car Alarm

Kate Tombaugh '07 and David Young '07 take their cues from group leader Paul Meiste '07 as they control their car alarms with remote switches on their key rings, during the car alarm performance.

IWU Student Conducts Car Alarm Orchestra

April 19, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -Illinois Wesleyan student James Klopfleisch, a junior composition major, premiered his latest work in a unique setting, the entire IWU campus, and instruments, car alarms, at 12:01 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, on the IWU campus.

Hear a news story about the performance on WGLT, the Normal, Ill., public radio affiliate.

The piece, titled after T.S. Eliot's poem "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock," was performed with alarms from 30 cars.  The cars were parked in 13 different locations around IWU's campus.  To conduct his piece Klopfleisch was stationed on the Eckley Quadrangle, where he met with performers at 11:45 a.m.  After synchronizing their watches, his volunteer performers took their places around campus to man their "instruments."  The entire piece lasted just under two minutes.

Klopfleisch began composing and organizing this piece in November of 2005.  Not only did he carefully map out when and where each alarm was to go off, he also matched the alarms that have similar tempos and dominant pitches.  The performers used their synchronized watches to begin the piece one alarm at a time and built to a crescendo of all 30 alarms sounding at once.  He said that his piece was "not strictly to shock or surprise people.  It was intended to have them realize that they are inside a large performance."

This piece, inspired by comedian Andy Kaufman, composer John Cage and T.S. Eliot's poem, is Klopfleisch's second such piece.  The first piece was a musical composition punctuated by the orchestrated coughing of members of the audience.

Klopfleisch hopes that people who heard his work on Wednesday would "not have known what was going on at first but knew that something is happening, then came to the gradual realization that a piece of art was being performed."

 Contact: Kay Mitchell, (309) 556-3181