News & Notes - July 2015

From the SVA President

Last month, St. Louis Magazine’s A-List awarded the STL Symphony both an Editor’s Choice Award (Music Accolade) for the STL Symphony’s Grammy® Award for City Noir and a Reader’s Choice Award as the Favorite Longtime Arts Organization. The Grammy is an incredible win and acknowledges (hugely) the innovation and excellence of this orchestra vs. others across the globe. Yet, I find the Reader’s Choice to be even more important. In a city that greatly values its cultural attractions, many of which are supported by a cultural sales tax in which the STL Symphony is NOT included, St. Louis Magazine readers ranked the STL Symphony at the top of the list. This affirms that the STL Symphony, in addition to its technical excellence, is recognized as supremely contributing to the richness of the community by all of the magazine’s readers, not just classical music lovers. The inventive concert series as well as community and education programs are making a difference, and the entire area has shown its support of the STL Symphony’s mission to enrich people’s lives through the power of music.

And lucky us! We get to back this organization—comprised of awesomely talented individuals—as SVA members. We get to be the ambassadors of the STL Symphony.  We get to support its programs with our time and donations. We get to trumpet its virtues and encourage the attendance of those who may not yet know how wonderful attending a live concert can be or simply haven’t been in a while. By doing these things, we get to make a difference in our community—and do this with some wonderful people.

Marie-Hélène Bernard officially joins the STL Symphony as President & CEO this month and will begin her leadership with a strategic planning process to determine direction for the coming years. I have the honor of serving on the strategic planning task force as the president of the SVA, which the STL Symphony views as an important partner as it moves forward. You, as an SVA member, are also an important partner in the orchestra’s future.

This month, you will receive a survey asking how we can best engage each of you as a member of the SVA and partner with the STL Symphony. Please help us by looking for the email and responding promptly.

I’m excited and hope you are, too. I look forward to hearing back from each of you!


Janice Seele
St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association
c: 714-642-3376

SVA Board Notes

Board Transition
A joint meeting of the 2014/15 and 2015/16 SVA boards took place on Thursday, June 11, at which time members made their official transitions. In planning for the coming year, board members broke into small groups by area—membership, education and fundraising—and identified challenges and opportunities in their respective areas, sharing their findings with the entire group at the end of the meeting. The results of these groups, in combination with the responses to the upcoming SVA survey, will be used to address any gaps and enhance programs. Be looking for changes!


Membership Survey and Committee Selections
This month, members will receive a membership survey via email that will also ask for committee preferences. Members without email addresses will receive copies of the survey via US mail. All members are urged to complete and return the survey promptly so that chairs can begin contacting committee members and planning programs. Your thoughts and opinions do matter.

Member Database and Maintenance
The SVA member database is almost fully updated! SVA member Kathy Borges has agreed to be trained on the Tessitura system and maintain the SVA information on a monthly basis. The Membership Committee is also developing a plan to ensure that members are reminded about their renewals in a timely manner. Increasing member engagement will be a strong theme in the coming year and ensuring the accuracy of our database and contacts is key.

Member Engagement
The SVA Executive Board has been meeting with various STL Symphony staff members to coordinate programs and calendars, establish working procedures and discover new ways we can partner to enable the orchestra to fulfill its mission while providing meaningful, satisfying and fun volunteer opportunities for our members. The discussions have been exciting and will continue throughout the summer into the new year. We look forward to sharing new opportunities with you!


Picture the Music and Express the Music
Working with Jessica Ingraham, Director of Education & Youth Orchestra, the Education Committee has selected Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.21, to be the musical inspiration for this year’s Picture the Music and Express the Music programs. This short piece, lasting roughly five minutes in length, allows teachers to play the piece multiple times for the students during the classroom time devoted to artistic response. A Midsummer Night's Dream is also one of the featured pieces in the STL Symphony’s Shakespeare Festival running in February and March. This selection further ties together SVA education programs with STL Symphony educational initiatives.

The Picture the Music: Director’s Choice V exhibit, featuring artwork from the Picture the Music program will hang in the Sheldon Art Galleries through Saturday, August 1. While it was lovely to see the traveling exhibit, seeing the work in a well-lighted gallery is a treat. Picture the Music is funded by the Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis and the exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries is made possible in part by our own SVA member Peggy Symes.

Instrument Playground
In conjunction with the STL Symphony partnership with the Nine Network, Instrument Playground will have a presence in the new Grand Center Public Media Commons on Monday, August 24, setting up for 45 minutes before a concert featuring The 442s. The 442s are an exciting, innovative group featuring STL Symphony cellist, Bjorn Ranheim, and violinist, Shawn Weil, among others. The Public Media Commons is a new and long-needed gathering space in Grand Center and is located between the Nine Network and St. Louis Public Radio. Instrument Playground’s participation is helping extend the STL Symphony’s collaborative efforts.


Gypsy Caravan
With this year’s Gypsy Caravan still wrapping up, the committee is already making plans for next year. Gypsy Caravan Chairs Kent and Jane McNeil recently held a wrap-up meeting where their extremely dedicated and skilled steering committee made suggestions on improvements for 2016, primarily fine-tuning the incredible logistical plans put in place this year to improve traffic flow and parking. The committee includes many new volunteers to Gypsy, and the consensus from all of them was that working on Gypsy, particularly being involved with the excitement of the day, was fun—a busy, exhilarating, fast-paced day during which volunteers can have great interaction with the public and, importantly, thank them for their support of this fabulous orchestra. Further volunteer outreach and training are goals of next year’s plans. The committee hopes that all SVA members will help spread the word on the importance of volunteering to support Gypsy Caravan and the bustling fun of the day.

While final budget numbers are not yet available, attendance was down as compared to 2014. Current thinking is that many shoppers were waiting to be sure that the traffic and parking issues were resolved after seeing the congestion caused by last year’s event. In addition, advance sales were down. While the weather turned out to be delightful, dire weather forecasts for the weekend had encouraged people to make indoor plans. Outdoor events are always subject to the whims of the weather.  Regardless of the final net revenue, the event was a huge success in taming the traffic and congestion issues and rethinking facility utilization for future growth. Exit feedback from shoppers included comments that they’d had a very good day—and we expect them and many others to be back next year.

Additional Fundraising Ideas
This will be a year of planning and strengthening partnerships between the SVA and the STL Symphony in many areas including fundraising. Several ideas have been suggested, but are in very early stages. Moving through at least the initial stage of the strategic planning process will help focus energies in this area and we look forward to involving more members in meaningful ways with fundraising efforts.

SVA Office Location and Directions

Centene Center for Arts and Education
3547 Olive St., Suite 370
St. Louis, MO 63103
STL Symphony Office Hours: 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Associate Director of Volunteer Programs Office Hours: Mon-Thurs, 10:00 AM-3:00PM