September Music Concerts Feature Iron Toys

September Music Concerts Feature Iron Toys

8/29/13 ASHLAND, Ohio - The Department of Music at Ashland University begins its fall semester featuring a concert by a guest artist ensemble Iron Toys on Monday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Elizabeth Pastor Recital Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.

Founded in 2004 by Tom Reed, Rich Shanklin, George Shernit and Howie Smith, Iron Toys performs a diverse repertoire blending classical, jazz and avant-garde styles. Because of the doubling skills of its members, the group performs on multiple woodwind instruments.

Representing Ashland University in the quartet, Professor of Music and Music Department Chair Tom Reed (soprano, alto and tenor saxophones; and Eb soprano, Bb and bass clarinets) is principal clarinetist of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, and bass clarinetist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra. He has performed regularly with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony.

He also has performed with the Jazz Unit, and the orchestras of Dayton, Canton, Erie, Wheeling, Lakeside, and Mansfield. Reed also has been soloist with the Akron, Mansfield and Ashland Symphonies, and has recorded with the Akron Symphony, the Jazz Unit, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra. His clarinet CD “Mutually Inclusive” was released in 2008.

Rich Shanklin (soprano, alto and tenor saxophones; flute, alto flute, piccolo Bb and Bass clarinets) has recently retired from 31 years of teaching at the University of Akron. He taught classical and jazz saxophone, coached saxophone quartets, and taught courses in Jazz Arranging, History of Jazz, and the Business of Music. He has performed with the Jazz Unit, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Akron and Canton Symphonies, the Blossom Festival Band, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and is a first-call woodwind doubler for dozens of musical pit orchestra performances at Cleveland's Playhouse Square.

George Shernit (soprano, alto and baritone saxophones; flute and alto flute; Bb and bass clarinets) received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory/Composition and a Master of Arts in Saxophone Performance from Cleveland State University. As a freelance musician for 30 years, he has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Blossom Festival Band, and numerous Broadway shows and entertainers.  He also toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the road show of “Annie.” For the past 20 years, he has worked in the wholesale music business, including seven years in Austin, Texas, as national sales manager for Jupiter Band Instruments.

Howie Smith (soprano and alto saxophones; and Eb soprano, Bb and bass clarinets) has presented concerts and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia, and has worked with musicians, composers and ensembles as varied as Anthony Braxton, Gary Burton, Dizzy Gillespie, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Elvis Presley, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Tone Road Ramblers. His recorded performances are equally diverse and his extensive catalogue of compositions includes works for conventional big bands and combos; for string, wind and percussion ensembles; for electronics; and for mixed media. Recordings of his work may be heard on the Philips, Polydor, Albany, Open Blue, Optimism and Sea Breeze labels. Smith is a professor emeritus at Cleveland State University, where he was the coordinator of jazz studies from 1979 to 2006 and served as chair of the Art Department from 2003 to 2007. He has been an artist/clinician for Yamaha since 1971.

In addition to this recital, other performances in September by the Ashland University Department of Music will be held at the Ashland County Fair including the University Marching Band leading the Parade of Bands at the grandstand on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 2 p.m., and the Ashland Area Community Concert Band in the midway entertainment tent on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. For more information about the music department and its performances, visit the Web site at, Facebook at, or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###

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