The NewsWorks Connections Salon kicked off the second annual WHYY Connections Festival Thursday night.  More than 100 members, guests and local arts organizations participated in the event that featured 12 performances on two stages inside the WHYY studios.

Jeri Lynn Johnson of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra was just one highlight of the evening when she gave Christine Churchwell, a member of the East Coast Black Age of Comics - dressed as Bumble Bee -  a lesson in conducting an orchestra.

Also, Slam Poets Charmira Nelson, 18; and Jamarr Hall, 20; of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement, gave chilling performances of original character poems to an intimate VIP crowd.

Other acts included the sketch comedy of Camp Woods, Groundswell Players and the hilarious musical cabaret of Julia Chalfin. Each previewed a portion of their upcoming Fringe Festival performances.  View the gallery above for photos and more information about the night's performances.

The WHYY Connections Festival continues Friday evening with the screenings of Friday Arts at Race Street Pier and The Barnes Collection at the Great Plaza, Penn's Landing. Saturday Yo La Tengo, Frank Turner and Maps & Atlases take the stage at Penn's Landing for a full day of free music. Sunday features artist from the Philadelphia Doo-Wop Festival.