SLUH has a spectacular band program. But one recent instrumental acquisition for the Jr. Bills’ symphonious stockpile has truly distinguished the program: an anvil.
Anvils have long been used as percussion instruments, back to being first documented in the 1800s. It contributes to any ensemble with its bright, bouncy, metallic sounding beats.
“It is really a completely different sound than any other,” said band director Jeff Pottinger.
SLUH first got its appetite for an anvil back in the beginning of 2020, when the band program was tasked with playing music that required one. Back then, they were using a frying pan and a hammer, as a substitute.
English teacher Chuck Hussung was walking along the band hallway and was captivated to hear such a loud, metallic sound.
“I love those sounds that are made in the percussion section of the orchestra,” said Hussung. “I just find them fascinating.”
Soon, he discovered with disappointment that the band was not in possession of a real anvil. However, driven by his love of percussion instruments, Hussung offered to pay for an anvil for the Band Department.
Before the anvil could be purchased, the pandemic hit. Due to the pandemic, the search for an anvil slowly lost its momentum. But last summer, band teacher Michael Faris stumbled upon an anvil on a farm in Virginia while he was on vacation. Anvils tend to be fairly expensive, but this one had a cheaper price tag of $125.
“I think (the anvil) was part of a railroad track,” Hussung said.
Faris had $50 and a $75 Red Lobster gift card. Fortunately, the seller liked Red Lobster. Soon after, Faris found himself lugging the anvil to his car and bringing it back to St. Louis.
Once the anvil made it to SLUH, there was one last challenge. Though the solid metal was incredibly heavy at 60 pounds, the anvil could be fit into a small backpack if it weren’t an unnecessary piece sticking out at the front. Faris made a call and Assistant Principal for Academics Kevin Foy was able to cut it off with the help of tools from the Theater Department. Foy also polished and prepared it for instrumental use.
So goes the legend of the SLUH anvil. Now it is just waiting for its debut performance.
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