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Alloy Orchestra Changes to The Anvil Orchestra, a Name Coined by Roger Ebert

For many years, audiences at our Ebertfest Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois, eagerly awaited the live music accompaniment to a silent film classic as performed by The Alloy Orchestra. When they first appeared at Ebertfest my late husband, Roger Ebert, incorrectly introduced them as "The Anvil Orchestra," thus inadvertently coining the name that the group has now chosen over their previous one. The group, based in Southern Vermont, recently announced that they have officially changed their name to The Anvil Orchestra, citing that Roger's "creative word-play has now come full circle." 

Comprised of Terry Donahue (Alloy Orchestra, Concussion Ensemble) and Roger Clark Miller (Alloy Orchestra, Mission of Burma, Trinary System), the group's unique live musical performances to silent films are admired by adults and children both in the United States and abroad. As the new Anvil Orchestra, Roger and Terry say they will continue their "tradition of high caliber compositions and performances." They say Percussionist Lawrence Dersch (Binary System, Trinary System, Concussion Ensemble, AKA/COD) will be added to the line-up when films call for a bigger percussive sound. 

Roger and I first witnessed the Alloy Orchestra perform at the Telluride Film Festival, where we were enthusiastically introduced to the three members by Tom Luddy, co-founder of the Telluride fest. At that point the orchestra consisted of a third member, Ken Winokur. According to Jim Sullivan of WBUR News, Ken Winokur, the former director, percussionist and clarinet player of the group, "started thinking about leaving the Alloys in late 2018" and "continues on with another film scoring outfit, the Psychedelic Cinema Orchestra, specializing in music that accompanies short films made by Ken Brown during the late 1960s for rock club The Boston Tea Party. He’s joined by Jonathan LaMaster and, at present, Vapors of Morphine saxophonist Dana Colley."

Past scores performed by The Alloy Orchestra at Ebertfest were for René Clair's "Coeur Fidèle (The Faithful Heart)," Teinosuke Kinugasa's "A Page of Madness," Ewald André Dupont's "Varieté," Marcel L'Herbier's "L'Inhumane," George Fitzmaurice's "The Son of the Sheik," Victor Sjöström's "He Who Gets Slapped," Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (twice), Dziga Vertof's "Man With a Movie Camera," Emil Jannings' "The Last Command," Josef von Sternger's "Underworld," Lon Chaney's "The Phantom of the Opera," Buster Keaton's "The General," Enrique Rosas' "The Grey Automobile," and 2012's memorable short film compilation, "Wild AND Weird: The Alloy Orchestra Plays 10 Fascinating and Innovative Films 1906-1929."

You can view Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips' onstage interview with The Alloy Orchestra following the 2011 Ebertfest screening of "Metropolis" below...

You can follow The Anvil Orchestra on Facebook as well as their official site. Read Ebert Fellow Shalayne Pulia's conversation with the group here.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of RogerEbert.com, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 22nd year.

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