Bio

Alloy Orchestra

Photo Credit: Rogovin.com

“The best in the world at accompanying silent films.” Roger Ebert

ALLOY ORCHESTRA is a three man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources.

Performing at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the US and abroad (The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, The Telluride Film Festival, The Louvre, Lincoln Center, The Academy of Motion Pictures, the National Gallery of Art and others), Alloy has helped revive some of the great masterpieces of the silent era.

An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the Orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable.

Utilizing their famous “rack of junk” and electronic synthesizers, the group generates beautiful music in a spectacular variety of styles. They can conjure up a French symphony or a simple German bar band of the 20’s. The group can make the audience think it is being attacked by tigers, contacted by radio signals from Mars or swept up in the Russian Revolution.

Alloy Orchestra is (L to R):

Terry Donahue – Junk percussion, musical saw, accordion
Ken Winokur – Director, percussion, clarinet
Roger C. Miller – Keyboard

History

December 31, 1991, Boston
On a snow-swept pedestal in the middle of Boston Commons, three musicians gathered together tons of junk metal, found objects, and homemade instruments. The plan was to create some unusual music and to have some fun. Now, 24 years later, Alloy has showcased their musical magic in more than a thousand performances, visited a dozen countries, and in the process has helped revitalize the classic medium of silent film accompaniment.

The Alloy Orchestra began its notorious reign of silent film terror with an original score for Metropolis in 1991 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre (in Brookline MA). In the intervening years, the group has written scores for 32 feature length film presentations, typically premiering their new scores at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, the San Francisco Silent film Festival or the New York Film Festival.

Alloy collaborates with the worlds best archives and collectors (such as the George Eastman Musuem, MGM/Warner Brothers, The British Film Institute, Paramount pictures, Film Preservation Associates,Cohen Media, BFI, Munich Filmmuseum and Box 5) to present audiences with the very best available prints of some of history’s greatest film.

Alloy has composed new scores for

  • Page of Madness – directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa (Japanese, 1926)
  • Varieté – directed by E.A. Dupont (German, 1925)
  • Picture – directed by Paolo Cherchi Usai, (US, 2015)
  • Son of the Sheik – starring Rudolph Valentino (US, 1926)
  • He Who Gets Slapped – directed by Victor Seastrom (US, 1924)
  • From Morning to Midnight – dir. Kark Heinz Martin (Germany, 1920)
  • Underworld – directed by Josef von Sternberg (US, 1927)
  • Phantom of the Opera – staring Lon Chaney (US, 1925/29)
  • The Eagle – staring Rudolph Valentino (US, 1927)
  • The General – (staring Buster Keaton)
  • Chang – A Drama of the Wilderness (directed by Cooper & Schoedsack)
  • Blackmail (Directed by Alfred Hitchcock)
  • Earth (directed by Alexander Dovzhenko, 1930)
  • Speedy by Harold Lloyd (US, 1928),
  • The Black Pirate by Douglas Fairbanks (U.S. 1926),
  • The Lost World (U.S. 1925),
  • Manslaughter directed by Cecil B. Demille n(U.S. 1922),
  • The Wind with Lilian Gish (American, l927),
  • Nosferatu directed by F.W. Murnau (German, l922),
  • Lonesome directed by Paul Fejos (U.S. 1928-9).
  • A Man With a Movie Camera directed by Dziga Vertov (USSR 1929),
  • The Unknown directed by Tod Browning (US, 1927),
  • Steamboat Bill Jr. by Buster Keaton (US, 1927),
  • Strike directed by Sergei Eisenstein (USSR, 1924).
  • Sylvester – Directed by Lupu Pick (Germany)
  • Aelita – Queen of Mars (USSR)
  • South – (England, 1919)
  • Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang (Germany, l926)

Shorts

  • Not Just for Kids – a collection of some of Alloy’s favorite shorts
  • Wild and Weird – short films by various directors
  • Dada Shorts and Early American Surrealism: Films by Duchamp, Richter, Porter and Keaton
  • A Trip to the Moon directed by George Melies (1904, France)
  • Plane Crazy (Mikey Mouse’s first appearance) 1926
  • Pass the Gravy – directed by Hal Roach
  • One Week – Buster Keaton
  • Easy Street – Charlie Chaplin
  • Big Business – Laurel and Hardy
  • Chasing Choo Choos – Monte Bell
  • Backstage – Rosco “Fatty” Arbuckle
  • The Bell Boy – Arbuckle
  • The Butcher Boy – Arbuckle
  • The Hayseed – Arbuckle
  • Moonshine – Arbuckle
  • The Garage – Arbuckle
  • Goodnight Nurse – Arbuckle
  • The Rough House – Arbuckle
  • Coney Island – Arbuckle
  • Out West – Arbuckle

Contemporary Film and Video Scores

In addition to their work with silents, the Orchestra has contributed soundtracks to contemporary films and videos by directors Paolo Cherchi Usai, Errol Morris (Fast, Cheap and Out of Control), Jane Gillooly (Dragonflies, the Baby Cries), Ben Meade (Vakvagny), Shandor Garrison (Freebox) and others.