St. Louis, December 4, 2017 – The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON program has been awarded a $160,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund. IN UNISON’s mission is to increase diversity in all aspects of music by providing resources for African-Americans in the St. Louis area.

The IN UNISON program, which launched in 1992, reaches more than 20,000 people annually and is involved with 40 predominantly African-American churches. Thanks to generous support from the Monsanto Fund, SLSO musicians are able to visit the churches and provide music during worship services. From the program’s beginning, the Monsanto Fund has helped provide scholarships for African-American students studying music at the college level. “It’s exciting to see how IN UNISON continues to be an educational jewel for college music students who might otherwise not have access to participate in this unique arts program,” said Michelle Insco, Monsanto Fund program officer.  “We are proud that our support of IN UNISON has served as a stepping stone for many young people within the St. Louis community who are pursuing musical careers.”

Octavia Sydnor, a former IN UNISON scholarship recipient and current IN UNISON Graduate Fellow, coordinates the SLSO’s Mentoring the Music: Peer to Peer program. As the program’s coordinator, the St. Louis native helps young people from diverse backgrounds gain access to music education and music career guidance. In 2016, Sydnor graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in violin performance. “My experience with IN UNISON has given me a very strong sense of community,” she said. “Thanks to IN UNISON I have been able to make a difference in the community I love.”

The IN UNISON program has its own chorus that performs twice each season at Powell Hall with the orchestra. The chorus will take the stage on December 14, 2017 for “A Gospel Christmas: A Soulful Celebration with Dianne Reeves.” Led by St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus Director Kevin McBeth, the performance will feature gospel and jazz music of the holiday season. “Lift Every Voice: Black History Month” is the second IN UNISON concert of the season at Powell Hall. Guest vocalist Oleta Adams will join the chorus for the event on February 23, 2018.

The IN UNISON Chorus will also perform a free “Community Concert” at Friendly Temple Church on April 29, 2018. The concert will spotlight various IN UNISON initiatives and include performances by members of Mentoring the Music: Peer to Peer program. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director David Robertson will be the guest conductor.


About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1880 and now in its 138th season, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country and widely considered one of the world’s finest. Under the leadership of Music Director David Robertson, currently in his 13thseason, the SLSO strives for artistic excellence, educational impact and community connection while meeting its mission statement: enriching people’s lives through the power of music. The SLSO presents a full season of classical programs and Live at Powell Hall concerts and hundreds of free education and community programs each year. Media partners include St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 –KWMU, which broadcasts the SLSO’s Saturday night subscription concerts live and the Nine Network, which regularly features SLSO performances on its Night at the Symphonyprogram. In addition, the SLSO is known for its Grammy Award-winning recordings, Carnegie Hall appearances, national and international tours, innovative programming, and extensive community engagement initiatives.

About the Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at