“This coming together of music, movement and learning is really how all schools should be. Thankfully, LiveConnections continues to make that a reality.”
—WHYY Friday Arts

WCL Education’s mission is to inspire learning and build community through collaborative music-making.

WCL Education (formerly LiveConnections) specializes in music education, arts accessibility and collaborative concerts. Since our founding in 2008, we have reached 50,000 participants through our educational Bridge Sessions and in-school residencies, and we have presented 50 concerts and commissioned 13 new works of music through our critically acclaimed LiveConnections Presents concert series.

WCL Education believes live music is an essential part of the human experience: it fosters joy and is one of the most powerful ways to build bridges between people.

WCL Education collaborates with artists from diverse music traditions to create our unique programming. We create opportunities for audiences with limited arts access — such as youth from Philadelphia public schools and people with disabilities — to be active participants in music-making. The music we create intersects with significant social issues, amplifying marginalized voices and encouraging creative responses to our world.

In December 2019, LiveConnections joined forces with our long-time partner venue World Cafe Live to become a combined nonprofit. Together, we’re working to grow a vibrant ecosystem of live music and education in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more information about what’s new!


NBCUniversal “Project Innovation” Grant 2018
Presented to LiveConnections by NBCUniversal Foundation for our WHAT’S GOING ON songwriting and music production residency at Hill-Freedman World Academy.

Cultural Access Award 2018
Presented to LiveConnections by leading arts accessibility organization Art-Reach.

Social Innovations Award 2018
Presented to board president and co-founder Hal Real by the Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal for his role with LiveConnections.

Barra Award 2018
Presented to LiveConnections by the Barra Foundation for our education work.

Special Resolution 2017
Presented to students from Hill-Freedman World Academy by Philadelphia City Council for the album FIRST VERSE, created in partnership with LiveConnections.

Brighter Futures Award 2017
Presented to founding director David Bradley by the City of Philadelphia’s Intellectual Disability Services for his work on accessibility in the arts.

Relationship to WXPN

World Cafe Live / LiveConnections and public radio station WXPN are neighbors and partners at 3025 Walnut Street, but remain separate nonprofit organizations. We partner with WXPN on strategic artist development and audience-building initiatives, and WXPN licenses the World Cafe® name to the venue.

In 2008, LiveConnections was founded by a team of artists, educators and entrepreneurs. In collaboration with World Cafe Live, the team imagined how the venue might be used to address the loss of music programs in Philadelphia schools.

We launched our first educational Bridge Sessions for schools in May 2008, and began adapting sessions to serve individuals with disabilities in 2009. From the beginning, LiveConnections’ programs prioritized collaboration, and over the years we have partnered with other leading arts organizations to create programming, including Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Alo Brasil, Art-Reach, Mendelssohn Club, The Philadelphia Orchestra and WXPN, among others. We currently present 35-40 Bridge Sessions each year, with topics ranging from “World of Percussion” to “Cybersounds” to “Voices & Bodies in Social Action.”

In 2012, aiming to develop in-depth programming with partner schools, we began our Percussion Studio summer camp, which now serves students from Freire Charter School and the Center for Grieving Children. In 2013, we launched our first in-school songwriting residency at Science Leadership Academy, through a collaboration with the Mendelssohn Club around Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Anthracite Fields.” In 2013, we also began a weekly after-school percussion ensemble, currently running at F. Amedee Bregy School in South Philadelphia. We also continued to develop our songwriting residencies, and in 2016, we released our first album co-created with students from Henry H. Houston School, A DAY IN MY LIFE. The album made the first-round Grammy ballot and was honored by the PA State Legislature. In 2017, the album FIRST VERSE, created with Hill-Freedman World Academy, was recognized by Philadelphia City Council. In 2018, our second album with Hill-Freedman, WHAT’S GOING ON, received an NBCUniversal “Project Innovation” award.

LiveConnections’ concert series takes its inspiration from the collaborative, multi-genre approach of our educational programs. In 2010, we began presenting concerts exploring innovations in classical music through unique cross-genre artist pairings and new music. We commissioned our first new work in 2013 (“Kantigas” by David Ludwig), which led to our “New Sounds of Philadelphia” project from 2013-2015, in which we commissioned Philadelphia composers to write for Philly-based ensembles of a different genre. To date, we have commissioned 12 new works of concert music by composers Kinan Abou-afach, Uri Caine, Jakub Ciupinski, Xavier Foley, Andrew Lipke, David Ludwig, John Patitucci, Arturo Stable, Alyssa Weinberg and Elizabeth Zharoff, and we have presented world premieres of more than a dozen other works.

Across all of our programs, LiveConnections is committed to artistry of the highest caliber, collaboration, community-building, accessibility and inclusion.


is now WCL Education

In 2019, we combined with our long-time partner World Cafe Live to become a single nonprofit organization.

We're proud to continue all of our programs under our new name and logo.

World Cafe Live logo