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Written by Melinda Steffy   
Published on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 00:00


You can see signs of Spring already. Buds, flowers, moments of warmth.

"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.

This week Allen, along with keyboardist Luke Carlos O'Reilly and percussionist Kwasi Burgee, presented our "African-American Spirituals: Roots & Reverberations" Bridge Session, introducing 400 Philly students to the history and legacy of music born out of slavery.

Students wrote their own blues songs (the losing-your-Transpass, breaking-up, no-food-in-the-house blues), sang call-and-response to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and tried out hambone body percussion.

Allen Pinkney, Kwasi Burgee & Luke Carlos O'Reilly [Image: staff]

Another kind of musical growth happened earlier in February. LiveConnections planted a seed by commissioning percussionist Arturo Stable to write new music for himself with the Harlem Quartet. The result, a piece called "El Fénix Negro" (The Black Phoenix), fuses the lush sound of the string quartet with Afro-Cuban percussion traditions. As one reviewer wrote, "the combination felt the most natural thing in the world."

Harlem Quartet performed "party music" ranging from Mozart to Cuban Guaguancó [Image: Conrad Erb Photography]


220 young people heard Arturo Stable perform with Harlem Quartet at Bridge Sessions. [Image: Conrad Erb Photography]

Exploring musical family trees, encouraging new ideas to take root. At LiveConnections, we're all about growth.


Melinda Steffy, Executive Director

P.S. Did you catch NCB10's recent segment about LiveConnections' educational programs? Check it out here.