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 Melinda Steffy   
Published on Thursday, 01 September 2016 10:30


I've been thinking recently about the idea of HOME.

What is home? Location? Family? Belonging, continuity, identity?


Sometimes home is joyful and full of celebration.

Like October 6 at the Big Hurrah, when we will honor our dear friend, WXPN radio host Helen Leicht, with our Connector Award for 40 years on the Philadelphia airwaves — 40 years dedicated to building up homegrown talent and cultivating local musicians.

Helen Leicht with Kal and Lucille Rudman
[Helen Leicht (right) with Kal & Lucille Rudman / image: Jaci Downs Photography]


Sometimes home is painful, frightening, full of loss.

Eighth-graders in our year-long song-writing and album-recording residency at Henry H. Houston School grappled with that discomfort in their song "Neighborhood Struggles." They wrote:

"Every day when I wake up / it's another struggle. / Gotta see mom and dad / go through the hustle. / Every time I go outside / there's another body. / The cops don't even care / They ride right by me."

Andrew Lipke
[Teaching artist Andrew Lipke with Houston students / Image: Jaci Downs Photography]


Last spring we commissioned composer Kinan Abou-afach to write music bridging Western classical and traditional Arab music. He created a powerful reflection on his homeland Syria. The piece, called "Fiction," laments the trauma of war and yearns for peace. It incorporates a recording of his father, who lives in Syria, reciting his own poetry:

"I beg you / just for a tiny moment / lay your guns and masks on the edge of this table, which might be your last supper's table..."

[Ensemble39 performs "Fiction" by Kinan Abou-afach in April


"Home" will come up again this fall, where it will be the theme of our annual partnership with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In four new Bridge Sessions — our signature interactive performances for Philly schools — Orchestra members and LiveConnections teaching artists, together with student participants, will explore what home means to them and how those ideas can be expressed through music.

Charlotte Blake Alston
[Charlotte Blake Alston / Image: Conrad Erb Photography]


And our kick-off LiveConnections Presents concert on October 21 considers aspects of migration and adaptation. Collaborating artists Bridget Kibbey, harp; Benito Meza, clarinet; and Samuel Torres, percussion, will perform new music by South American composers who have immigrated to the United States, paired with the folk songs that inspired them. (Stay tuned for ticketing info.)

Bridget Kibbey, Benito Meza & Samuel Torres
[Bridget Kibbey, Benito Meza & Samuel Torres]


So what is home?

With so many variables, so much potential for change, perhaps at its most basic, home is where we CONNECT.

I hope you'll connect with LiveConnections this season and share your own experiences of home with us.


Melinda Steffy, Executive Director

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.

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LiveConnections is grateful for the support of numerous individuals, companies and foundations who believe in our mission and help make our programs possible.
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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


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$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.