Joyous to the world – including Southwest Florida










The Joyous String Ensemble is a group of children who play classical instruments.   

If this conjures moments as a parent trying to tune out practice sessions of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Old MacDonald,” let’s settle that score right now. Justin Yu played Carnegie Hall at age 6. 

He is the leader of a string ensemble – actually several, with varying numbers of players who range in age from 8 to 14. They’ve played on network TV shows, NBA games, venues large and small, even at the White House alongside big-name artists such as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Tori Kelly, and Fall Out Boy.  

As the Joyous String Ensemble, Yu and six classmates from the Joyous Music School in New York will play at the second WGCU Twisted Strings Music Festival. 

The Joyous performers are equally proficient playing tunes like Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” as well as Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Justin especially enjoys playing – and singing – to songs by Michael Jackson. “He’s got swag,” the young cellist said.  

Justin, the son of Chinese composer and conductor Ziliang (Julian) Yu and Korean pianist Rho Aera, was 3 years old at his first dance class, said his father.  “He was so young, he could not pick up the cello yet. But the dance background would help him move his body, move his hands, when playing an instrument.” 

There are about 500 other students at Joyous school, including Justin’s sister Christine, but they don’t spend their lives practicing. They attend primary schools during the day and practice their lessons after school or on weekends, but at most one to two hours a day.  

Julian Yu explained, “We focus on everyone’s ability to learn quickly and by themselves. … I grew up practicing a lot, so I try to have them do the opposite, which is practice less and better.” 

This is likely to keep the kids more enthusiastic about any endeavor they find themselves working on. 

In fact, Justin Yu knows he wants to be “a cellist and an entertainer” when he grows up. 

Christine, though, has other aspirations. “I want to be a lawyer and change the world,” she said.  


Diana Willis doesn’t just come packing sandwiches.






When you think of Jason’s Deli you’re reminded of fresh sandwiches and hot soup, but Diana Willis is making sure that’s not the end of the story. Diana and her team that run the stores in Southwest Florida work hard to be a partner to the community and our bellies. Here at Twisted Strings we are more than happy to have Diana Willis and Jason’s Deli as a VIP for our festival.  

Diana has spent almost 20 years building her franchise while also falling in love with her community. In that time she has become a season sponsor for the SWFL Symphony, promoter for the Barbara B. Mann High School Musical competition, which she attended every performance, a chairperson with Pace Center for Girls in Immokalee and has sponsored two homes with Habitat for Humanity. Diana’s newest venture is contributing to Twisted Strings. You might be sad to find there won’t be any broccoli cheese soup at the festival, however without her the show might not go on.

Rachel Peacock was our messenger from WGCU, but it was Diana’s love of bringing the city together and wanting to hear some new style of music that sold her on Twisted Strings. Knowing this year’s festival would be something she didn’t want to miss out on.

“Ideally it’s a great time of year to enjoy music outdoors in SWFL. Those who love classical will be entertained as much as anyone who appreciates the love of music.”  

“It gives others new perspectives on how the strings are played, crossing over many genres.”   

We thank Diana and Jason’s Deli for being a part of the Twisted Strings family and know she is just as excited as we are for the festival!

Meet Violectric: Not Just a Rock Band

When you dive into classical music it can be hard to take in especially if you don’t have a trained ear. 

Violectric is here to show you that music is anything you want it to be. Classical and rock can be mashed together creating a sound just as beautiful as when they stand alone.  

The band has seven members that come together for a performance with dancing, headbanging, and different lights on their instruments. Their musical influences range from Irish fiddle, to hip-hop, bluegrass, Latin, Broadway, and classically trained, that fuse together with their energy and styles to create Violectric.   

The most compelling and challenging part of this band is that they play completely live. No backtrack, nothing pre-recorded, just live, pure, real music. The band feels the music and the energy within each other to put on a performance that will have you captivated.  

Michelle, lead violinist and creator of Violectric says, “We pick music and songs that we think will stand the test of time.”  

They do this so they can reach new audiences and spark an interest in people of all ages. Showing the audience that there’s more to string instruments and maybe that modern music may not be here without it.    

“Part of why I’m excited to play Twisted Strings is because I want to talk to everyone and get to know the audience and feel out what they want,”  

“Each new place is different and each performance is different. What we want to do is try to give a little something for everyone.”   

Maybe you’ll hear them play your favorite song in a more electrifying way, but the only way you’ll find out is checking them out at Twisted Strings.