The IronWorks Percussion Duo, a Los Angeles based percussion group, was founded by Dr. Dave Gerhart and Axel Clarke. Though they gave their first concert in December of 2007, the group began much earlier. Dave and Axel were peers in the undergraduate percussion program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and performed together in countless concerts throughout their time at the university. After graduating, both joined the CSULB faculty as instructors in the percussion department. The pair’s desire to continue working together, and to explore new pieces and avenues of percussion, gave them the idea to form a new duo. At the 2006 Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in Austin, Texas, Dave and Axel decided to dive headfirst into the collaboration and took their name from the local BBQ restaurant where they first formulated the group.
The goal of IronWorks Percussion Duo is to explore all the possibilities of percussion performance within the duo format. Its performances blend pieces by established composers with new works by up-and-coming artists in addition to works by the group's founders. From formal structures to improvisation, from traditional instrumentation to found objects, from acoustic instruments to electronic soundscapes IronWorks Percussion Duo strives to incorporate as much of the broad spectrum of percussion music into its performances as possible. The group started a composition contest in January, 2008 to expand the repertoire of available duo works for the modern percussion field. The IronWorks Percussion Duo will release their first CD in July 2011.
Axel Clarke has been active as a performer and instructor in the Los Angeles area for 15 years. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Percussion Performance from Cal State Long Beach. As a teacher, he has been a member of the Studio Faculty at Long Beach State for 6 years and also directs the percussion program at the prestigious Orange County High School of the Arts. Axel’s performance and recording credits include work with Sara Haze, Chelsa Lena, Skanic, Kim Richmond Jazz Orchestra, The Robin Cox Ensemble, DMP, Next Exit, Mehdi, and several Steel drum ensembles. He can also be heard in numerous multi-media exhibits in museums across the country and in documentaries for Animal Planet and Discovery. As a composer he is published by Bachovich Music Publications.
Dr. Dave Gerhart, Director of Percussion Studies at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSU, Long Beach, is a nationally recognized performer, composer, and educator. Dr. Gerhart, originally from Fairfield, California, holds a D.M.A. from the University of Southern California in Percussion Performance with a secondary emphasis in Music Education, Ethnomusicology, and Music Industry & Technology. He received a M.M. in Percussion Performance and Instrumental Conducting and a B.M. in Music Education from California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Gerhart has been featured on CDs with the Robin Cox Ensemble and Steven Hartke on Sonic Scenery for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
As a freelance musician, Dave has performed under Zubin Mehta, Mehli Mehta, and has performed with Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Michael Kamen, Yefim Bronfman, Ray Holman, and Robert Greenidge. His principle teachers include Dr. Michael Carney, Erik Forrester, Brad Dutz, and Raynor Carroll, principal percussionist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Dave's compositions and arrangements for percussion ensemble and steel drum orchestra are published by Bachovich Music Publications and Boxfish Music Publishing. He is a founding member of the Island Hoppin' Steel Drum Band.