Small But Mighty: Featured Music

Danceworks Performance MKE presents…

Small but Mighty

June 2-4, 2023

Milwaukee Youth Arts Center
325 W Walnut, Milwaukee, WI


Purchase Tickets


About the Show:

Danceworks Performance MKE (DPMKE) presents “Small but Mighty,” a dance showcase featuring Milwaukee chamber ensembles Microcosm Ensemble, Black Cat Ensemble, Cosmo Reed Quintet and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. This performance captures the essence of Chamber music, known for its subtlety and intimacy. As the single voice of each instrument stands alone with clarity and delicacy, the combination creates mighty ornamentation and complexity that transports listeners to different worlds. Highlights include a collaboration between DPMKE member Nekea Leon and Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Steel Band Ensemble, along with world premieres by Soloist Elisabeth Roskopf, Artistic Director Christal Wagner and Choreographer Gina Laurenzi. Also appearing on the concert is Danceworks Intergenerational Performance Company (DIPC) also directed by Laurenzi and Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC) directed by Gabi Sustache. One and all are welcome to this captivating celebration of dance and music in perfect harmony.

Special thank you to our Premiere Season Sponsors, Tim & Sue Frautschi.

Featured Music:

Black Cat Ensemble

Suite Arcata by Raymond Burkhart (2015)

  • Program Notes:
    • Commissioned by the Chamber Players of the Redwoods, the work is in 3 movements suggestive of the climate that is peculiar to our region. One of the movements is titled Coastal Fog. Unlike a typical woodwind quintet, the instrumentation of this work employs the trumpet rather than the horn for a unique, spritely, and refreshing change of color. Composer Raymond Burkhart lives in Tujunga and teaches at College of the Canyons and Pomona College. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Claremont Graduate University and has composed works in many genres. Currently a member of the music faculty at Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University, and College of the Canyons, Burkhart has appeared as a guest conductor and trumpet clinician and authority on the history of brass music.
  • Movements:
    • I. Winter Rain
    • II. Coastal Fog
    • III. Summer Sun

Six Cuban Dances by Ignacio Cervantes (1899)

  • Program Notes:
    • Ignacio Cervantes, Cuban pianist and composer, was born in Havana in 1847 and died there in 1905. He studied with celebrated American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk and also at the Paris Conservatory. He toured to the United States and Mexico and was one of the pioneers of native Cuban music. One of his most popular works, Cuban Dances (Danzas Cubanas) originally composed for the piano in 1899, employs Cuban rhythms in an effective salon manner. He also wrote several orchestral works and three operas.
  • Movements:
    • I. Moderato con espressione
    • II. Con passione 
    • III. Poco vivo con spirito 
    • IV. Con energia 
    • V. No Ilores mas! (Weep no Longer!)
    • VI. Moderato melanconico

Microcosm Ensemble

to find the beauty in surviving our emotions by Erika Malpass

  • Program Notes: From the composer, Erika Malpass
    • “I connected with Alec, Edward, and Jen through our shared experiences of impostor syndrome – the experience of and anxiety resulting from believing you are not as competent as others perceive you to be, that you’ve somehow achieved success by mistake and that you don’t belong where you are – which became the inspiration for this piece.
    • I’ve been using my music as a way to examine, sort through, and communicate many emotional spaces that I struggle with. At the same time, I often experience self-doubt and anxiety in my creative process, and with this project, I found the act of writing and the subject of impostor syndrome were too closely intertwined. I doubted my ideas and my creativity and was frustrated with myself for allowing this doubt to paralyze my writing process. I couldn’t write about this specific facet of anxiety when I was experiencing it so vividly every day.
    • Writing this piece became a process of discovering how to survive these emotions. Instead of trying to illustrate or understand my anxiety, the piece became the refuge from these emotions that I needed. Starting with improvisation, I created music that to me felt organic and breathing; calm, fluid, and spacious. I tried to allow the piece to simply be, floating from one idea to the next like my improvisation, and letting go of what it wasn’t or should have been. By accepting the piece for what it is, I found an antidote to this anxiety. To me, the piece represents time taken to embrace, with intentionality, moments where I am at peace with myself.
    • We’re battered with complexity, darkness, and turmoil every day — we can’t constantly try to understand all of it. Sometimes what we need is to turn away and find room within ourselves for a bit of peace. We have many challenges and difficulties to face, but we can’t meet them if we don’t give time for ourselves and for each other — if we’re falling apart. These small moments of calm, healing, and groundedness are what allow us to accept ourselves, and give us the strength to keep working, and moving forwards. My hope is that listening to the piece will provide a moment of peace for you, as writing it did for me. I hope that it also prompts you to create space for and appreciate these moments in your life.”

Trio Sonata for Flute, Trumpet and Piano by James Stephenson (2001)

  • Program Notes:
    • The trio sonata was written for Richard Stoelzel, a good friend and great supporter of new music. He has also been responsible for other works of mine, including the trumpet sonata, and sets of brass quintet arrangements which include Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
    • His directive in the composition of this piece was to compose something straightforward and accessible. Hence the melodies, especially in the first and second movements, are generally tonal and pleasant. I broke from this pattern slightly in the third movement, allowing the music to be a little more wild and frenetic, and also almost suggesting a Latin influence. The title, “Devil’s Mischief,” is reflected in both my own desire to spice up the music, and is descriptive of the hellish piano part!
    • The challenge in composing, and performing, music written for an ensemble containing violin [or flute], trumpet and piano is always maintaining a balance where all instruments can be heard and/or step forward when necessary. Each instrument, therefore, has solo passages, and the trumpet uses a variety of mutes to both change the color and cover the sound to allow for better balance within the trio of players. [The version for flute was added in 2009, and premiered in Naples, FL.]
  • Movements:
    • II. Interlude
    • III. Devil’s Mischief

Cosmo Reed Quintet

The Wildflower Quintet for Reed Quintet

  • Program Notes:
    • The five movements of The Wildflower Quintet for Reed Quintet (Oboe/English horn, Clarinet, Soprano/Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon) are based on the imagery from several poems by Bette Woolsey Castro, a friend of Lady Bird Johnson who founded the Wildflower Center in Texas.  This work, as The Wildflower Trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano, was commissioned by the College of Fine Arts of the University of Texas at Austin to honor the life and environmental work of Lady Bird Johnson.
    • In this newly re-imagined version for Reed Quintet that was commissioned, recorded, and premiered by the Kalliope Quintet, the colors of the quintet add additional voices to the many wildflowers in Texas and across the United States. These instruments help to paint a broad picture of colors, shapes, and majesty of the flowers, and continue to honor the legacy and work of Mrs. Johnson.
  • Wildflowers
    • II. Wild Rose and Butterfly
      III. The Hummingbird
      IV. Indian Paintbrush
      V. Summer Garden