LiveConnections' Bridge Sessions and in-school residencies provide interactive educational opportunities for youth from city schools & people with disabilities.


Our LiveConnections Presents concert series features collaborative concerts designed for adventurous music-lovers.


We prioritize accessibility for people with disabilities through Bridge Sessions, workshops & live webcasts.

Written by Lindsay Westley   
Published on Friday, 02 November 2012 11:15

Yumi Kendall, celloNovember 2, 2012 - The first time the trio behind the popular “Dancing Vibrations” Bridge Session rehearsed, the instrumental line-up included one cello, one violin — and a car full of African and South American percussion instruments.

Since then, the group — which includes Yumi Kendall, assistant principal cellist for the Philadelphia Orchestra; Luigi Mazzocchi, violinist and teaching artist for the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Alex Shaw, percussionist and lead singer for Alô Brasil — have used their diverse musical backgrounds to create a Bridge Session that includes everything from 300-year-old Bach minuets, to traditional songs from Venezuela and Brazil, to pop music.

We sat down with Yumi to talk about what makes a good Bridge Session, and how paying homage to Baroque composers and Michael Jackson in the same breath is all part of music education.

Where do you start when you’re putting together a program for grades 2-8?
The first rehearsal was definitely a little bit of a jam session. We decided on a program called “Dancing Vibrations,” so now everything we do revolves around that theme, whether it’s a Bach minuet or a song about the morning after a carnival.

Yumi Kendall, Luigi Mazzocchi, Alex ShawWhat are some highlights from “Dancing Vibrations?”
We start out with very simple Bach minuet, accompanied by Alex helping the participants find the heartbeat of the 1-2-3 rhythm by snapping and clapping their hands, then move into a Brazilian piece with some pretty complicated rhythms. Since we play a lot of music from Africa and South America, I really had to train myself to move beyond the written music and into music that I had to feel off of the page.

How do you incorporate younger kids into a set like this?
For a very fast cello piece called “Dance of the Elves,” I pick out one of the melodies and ask them to help me make it sound like something we’d all like to dance to. They decide if they want it to be faster or slower, higher up the scale or lower — anything they want. Usually they want it to be fast, high and short, so they can make their feet move. By the end it sounds like a dance for nimble feet only — a dance of the elves.

How do you keep participants interested?
You have to read the energy of the crowd and adjust. Usually it’s all about shorter pieces, and getting them involved by clapping or snapping or making music. In that setting we can usually sense what did they need to stay engaged. Shorter is usually better!

Dancing Vibrations Bridge SessionWhat’s the most surprising thing that’s ever happened during a set?
We always invite participants to sing along when we get to our final Michael Jackson/Black Eyed Peas medley, and we've had sessions both with senior citizens and with young kids where people just couldn’t stay in their seats and started dancing in the aisles. That’s what I really love — when people are so enthusiastic that they just can't contain their energy for the music.

Why do you feel that moving and dancing is an important part of music education?
Actively participating in music gives people a chance to be physical, and that’s how lots of people learn — by kinesthetic movement, not by intellectualizing what they are told. And even during sessions when participants aren’t dancing in their seats, they can see how music bridges gaps between cultures. They see very different people up here — Alex is half Chinese, I’m half Japanese and Luigi’s Venezuelan — all of us embody different cultures. Music is a very natural bridge between cultures and genres, which is why the diverse program works.

[Check out our complete Bridge Session schedule here.]


Images: Conrad Erb Photography

Latest News

LiveConnections Announces 2017-18 Season of Community Collaboration

September 13, 2017 — Can music build community? This season’s performances provide the opportunity for musicians to create distinctive, boundary-blurring music, often involving new commissions and world premieres, while collaborating with members of the greater Philadelphia community and beyond. Programs include performances by Fifth House Ensemble, Jason Vieaux, VOCES8, Kinan Azmeh, Aizuri Quartet, and more.

LiveConnections Honors Drexel ExCITe Center’s Youngmoo Kim at Big Hurrah Celebration

August 22, 2017 — LiveConnections is thrilled to honor Youngmoo Kim, director of Drexel University’s ExCITe Center, with our 3rd annual Connector Award at this year's Big Hurrah on November 14. The evening will also include performances from Andrew Lipke, Angela Zator Nelson, David Rosen, Allen Pinkney, Luke Carlos O’Reilly, Kwasi Burgee, and more!

Announcing Hill-Freedman World Academy's album "First Verse" | July reflections from executive director Melinda Steffy

July 5, 2017 — Sometimes a simple connection takes on a life of its own. Read more from executive director Melinda Steffy about the making of the Hill-Freedman album, "First Verse".

It's been an inspiring season | June reflections from executive director Melinda Steffy

June 14, 2017 — We've had an inspiring year here at LiveConnections. 4600 participants in our educational programs, 5 commissions of new concert music, more than 45 tremendously talented artists. Take a look at our 2016-2017 year in review.

LA Opera’s Elizabeth Zharoff and Award-Winning Double Bassist Xavier Foley Team Up to Premiere Video Game Music at LiveConnections

April 25, 2017 — On June 2, two Curtis Institute grads will present an evening of classical tunes and original video game compositions at LiveConnections, in residence at World Cafe Live.


Kids Count 2017

April 17, 2017 — Help us raise $40,000 in 10 days through our annual Kids Count Campaign! Proceeds support our interactive Bridge Sessions; our in-school residencies where students write poetry, create their own drums and record original songs; our distinctive music education that inspires learning about collaboration, identity, social change and more.

Impact that can't be quantified | April reflections from executive director Melinda Steffy

April 3, 2017 — So much of what LiveConnections does can't be quantified. Read more from executive director Melinda Steffy about our impact on relationships, identity, opportunity and inspiration.


Grammy Award-Winning Jazz Bassist John Patitucci Teams Up With Daedalus Quartet In Philadelphia

March 8, 2017 — LiveConnections presents the unique pairing of John Patitucci and Daedalus Quartet on April 18 (during Philly Celebrates Jazz month), featuring world premieres of newly-commissioned music.


Seeds that grew into branches | March reflections from executive director Melinda Steffy

March 1, 2017 — "Seeds that grew into branches." That's how vocalist Allen Pinkney described spirituals' influence on other styles of music, such as blues, jazz, gospel and hip-hop. Read more from executive director Melinda Steffy about musical family trees and new ideas taking root.

The people are the best part | February reflections from executive director Melinda Steffy

February 2, 2017 — With "collaborative music-making" as part of our mission, we get to cross paths with a lot of remarkable people. Read more from executive director Melinda Steffy about what some of our artist collaborators have been up to recently.

Donate to LiveConnections


Join Our Mailing List



Blog Archive

LiveConnections is grateful for the support of numerous individuals, companies and foundations who believe in our mission and help make our programs possible.
[Become a supporter!]

Big Hurrah Sponsors:
(as of 10/24/2017)

$5000 School Sponsor

Drexel University


Fox Rothschild


Philly Music Fest


World Cafe Live





$2500 Collaboration Sponsor

Brandywine Realty






Dranoff Properties


Pepper Hamilton


University of Pennsylvania





$1000 Connecting Sponsors



Ballard Spahr






Cozen O'Connor


Curtis Institute of Music


Jonathan Fink Group




ITEM Media


Law Rocks


Philadelphia Insurance Companies


RSK Advisory


TGS Financial



$500 Sponsors
The Art Shop
Benjamin Cobrin & Company
BWA architecture + planning
Coscia Moos Architecture, LLC
Grace Tavern
Keystone First
Dr. Karyn Scher
W. Michael Tuman, DMD
University City Science Center



Connector Award



Business Support



Foundation Support 2016-2017:
Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation
Corrine R. & Henry Bower Memorial Trust
CHG Charitable Trust
Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation
The Allen Hilles Fund
Independence Foundation
Patricia Kind Family Foundation
Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation
Christopher Ludwick Foundation
The Presser Foundation
Rosenlund Family Foundation
Caroline J.S. Sanders Trust
The Scholler Foundation
Howell Lockhart Seiple Trust
Seybert Foundation
Joseph Kennard Skilling Trust
Paula Steinebach Trust
Strauss Foundation
Union Benevolent Association
Henrietta Tower Wurts Memorial
Wyncote Foundation



Additional Support:

LiveConnections is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.



Additional support provided in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, tax ID 26-2666641. The official registration and financial information of may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.