News & Notes - August 2015

From the SVA President

After a relaxing summer, I hope that you are all as eager as I am to re-engage with the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association this fall! As you saw in the survey and committee preference request sent recently, we’ve added some exciting—and much needed—committees and teams to our offerings including Advocacy, Gala, Special Events, Member Engagement, and Tech. Plus, the Friends Committee approved last year is now up and running. If you haven’t had a chance to read the committee descriptions and send in your preferences, you can learn more here.

Speaking of the recently mailed survey, have you completed yours? We’re getting a great response so far and want to make sure that you are included. If you haven’t returned it yet, please take a few minutes to complete the survey online. Members have found it takes 5-10 minutes to complete; your personal input is important.

There is also more great news to share from the STL Symphony this past month, starting with the fact that Marie-Hélène Bernard officially began her position as President & CEO in July! She and the rest of the staff are very hard at work to keep the momentum going and growing for this fabulous orchestra of ours, a tall order given the momentum to date. Of special note are the additional local awards received recently by the STL Symphony and STL Symphony staff and members, including:

The 2015 GO! List (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Award for:

  • “Most-Wide Reaching Arts Outreach” for the STL Symphony
  • “Best Locally Produced TV Series” for the collaboration with the Nine Network, Night at the Symphony
  • “Best Local Singer” for IN UNISON Artist-in-Residence Brian Owens

The 2015 GO! List (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Reader’s Pick for:

  • “Best Program Notes"
  • “Most Interesting Chamber Music Festival” for Scott Andrews’ and Nina Ferrigno’s Missouri Chamber Music Festival

The 2015 Alive Magazine “Best of the City Award” for the STL Symphony for “Best Culture-Meets-Pop-Culture”

Also keeping this momentum going is the strong response to date to the 2015 Annual Campaign, ending August 31. Through the end of July, the campaign had raised 94% of a $7.2 million goal, with an additional $450K to raise by the end of August. We can help. If you have not yet contributed to this year’s membership campaign, we have an exciting incentive for you. Great friends of the orchestra David and Thelma Steward have presented the STL Symphony with a $50,000 Annual Fund Challenge to inspire community-wide support in reaching our critical end- of-year goals. Please consider making a gift now or consider making an additional gift to the campaign by August 31, 2015, and your donation will be doubled! Donate Now

Last, we can help support the STL Symphony by buying season subscriptions and individual tickets and introducing our friends to its remarkable performances. Invite them to share in performances both at Powell Hall and at the many free concerts held throughout the area. There is now a section at the end of News & Notes listing free concerts so that you can place them on your calendars and share the schedule with others. 

This is an exciting time for the STL Symphony and the SVA. Please take a few moments to read further about what is going on in each area and spread the word about our orchestra and the SVA! You are our best advocates!


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

SVA Board Notes

A board training retreat is scheduled for Saturday, September 12, from 9am-noon at the SVA office at Centene. Mark your calendars for this important session.


Membership Survey and Committee Selections
Have you returned your SVA survey and committee preferences? Last month, members were sent a membership survey via email that also asked for committee preferences. Members without email addresses received copies of the survey via US mail. Members were asked to return their surveys by Monday, August 3, so that chairs could begin contacting committee members and planning programs, but we are still collecting them. We want to make sure that every member is placed on a committee meaningful to him or her. Your thoughts and opinions do matter. Please make them known.

Fall Membership Meeting
Save the date for the Fall Membership Meeting to be held the evening of Wednesday, October 14, at The Clubhouse at the Probstein Golf Course in Forest Park. Details will come later, but you can expect good food, great companionship and an engaging program in a lovely setting overlooking the golf course. The SVA Board is working on a variety of initiatives that we will be excited to share at the meeting. Be sure to put this on your calendar!

Member Engagement
If there is theme this year, it is engagement. We want every SVA member to feel actively engaged with the SVA and the STL Symphony. Toward that end, the new Membership Engagement Team has been formed to make sure that every member receives personal contact during the year. The team will be calling members just to touch base, to make sure that they are connected to a committee they find meaningful, to ensure they are aware of membership meetings and special events and to make sure that in our ongoing move towards online communication, we don’t lose the one-on-one connections that are so important. This team is still forming. If you enjoy committee work that you can do from home with personal connections to other members, please consider joining.

Tech Team
The Tech Team met for the first time on Monday, August 3, to review the SVA’s technology needs and discuss goals. This highly-skilled group, led by Kathy Borges, will be looking at information needs, data flow between the STL Symphony and SVA, data systems, software and apps used by the SVA to ensure accuracy, stability, coordination and ease of use. This team will also provide needed training to other committees and suggest improvements to current technical systems. Once the team gets its feet on the ground—and a few more members generated by a review of our skills survey—this team will provide a great resource to other committees and bring new and necessary systems to the SVA, setting the organization up well to operate effectively into the future.


Picture the Music and Express the Music
Mark your calendars! Dates for the Picture the Music and Express the Music awards ceremonies have been set for March 3, 2016, and April 13, 2016, respectively. Both Picture the Music and Express the Music invite students from Missouri and Illinois schools to express themselves creatively, inspired by a piece of classical music. Picture the Music invites students in K-6 to create visual art while Express the Music invites students in 6-12 to respond in word; participating teachers rave about the way these programs allow them to integrate disciplines. This year’s musical selection is Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream Op.21, which 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. Postcards inviting teachers to participate with their classes will be mailed at the end of August and the committees are working on updating contact lists and making personal contacts with larger districts.

Instrument Playground
As part of the STL Symphony's 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 at 6:30pm before a concert featuring The 442’s. Instrument Playground’s participation is helping extend collaborative efforts of the STL Symphony. 

Coordination with STL Symphony Education Staff
The SVA and the STL Symphony staff are working together to update and expand contact lists at area schools and to better coordinate Picture the Music, Express the Music and Instrument Playground participation with the STL Symphony’s Education Concerts and other initiatives. Additionally, a link to these SVA education programs will be added to the Community & Education webpage, making it easier for teachers to discover them or simply find more information.

Powell Hall Opportunities
Powell Hall Opportunities has been busy setting up many schedules for the coming season. Boutique volunteers will have a meet & greet session on Saturday, August 22, at the SVA offices, when they will also learn about the new merchandise for the season. On Saturday, August 29, the Youth Orchestra Committee will serve lunch to over 100 YO members during their orientation while the Powell Hall Tours Committee takes the parents on a tour of the building. The Coffee Concert chairs will soon begin scheduling volunteers for this popular activity.


Gypsy Caravan
Final numbers are in for Gypsy Caravan, which netted $135,500 for the STL Symphony. Entry fees were down vs. last year, primarily in advance ticket sales, not surprising due to the dire weather predictions of forecasters in the days before the event, as well as uncertainty in guests’ minds about traffic and parking after the traffic snarls in 2014. Expenses were up from 2014 due to much needed, and effective, improvements in shuttles and parking.

While the budget for Gypsy for 2016 will be set similarly to this year’s net, and closer to historical figures, hopes are high that the positive experience and press generated by this year’s event will bring back advance ticket and regular shoppers and will further build vendor numbers, particularly inside the arena. Additionally, the STL Symphony staff believes that increasing sponsorship for the event represents a huge opportunity. Bottom line, we look forward to a bright future. The Gypsy team, successful in turning around previous logistical challenges, is already working to further improve the event for all.

The Gala Committee is working with the STL Symphony's Development team to help with pre-event activities and to act as greeters and ambassadors for this year’s Opening Weekend Gala Celebration on Saturday, September 19. Traditionally, STL Symphony staff has been solely responsible for this gorgeous event. With this year’s Gala taking place on opening night—added to all of the activities associated with the launch of season—the STL Symphony asked for the help of the SVA. Volunteers will help manage advance activities and act as greeters at the event, allowing staff to concentrate on other development and opening night activities. SVA members assisting that night will be able to see the concert and enjoy the brilliance of the whole celebration.

Special Events
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. We look forward to sharing ideas to involve more members in meaningful ways in fundraising efforts.

The Friends Committee, added earlier this year to assist with the cultivation and stewardship of donors, is now moving forward beginning simply with...a thank you.  That’s right, thank you—a wonderful phrase that lets people know that what they have done is appreciated. The Friends Committee will begin with a thank-a-thon on Tuesday, September 1, calling Friends of the Symphony level donors to thank them for contributing to the success of the 2015 Annual Campaign. Members participating in the thank-a-thon will gather in the SVA office—transformed into “calling central”—where they will be briefed by Development staff and enjoy coffee and pastries together before and after contacting Friends. What a nice call to receive—and give! 

STL Symphony Free Community Events

Our STL Symphony does tremendous outreach in the area (thus the recent awards), bringing free concerts to the community in pursuit of its mission to enrich people’s lives through the power of music. The following are free concerts taking place throughout the area over the next couple of months. Click here for more information about these concerts and to view the full schedule. Please plan to attend and share it with others!

Monday, August 24, 2015 7:30 PM
The 442’s at the Public Media Commons

Thursday, September 10, 2015 10:30 AM
Symphony In Your College at Goldfarb School of Nursing

Sunday, September 13, 2015 7:30 PM
Symphony In Your College at Washington University in St. Louis

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 7:00 PM
Forest Park Concert on Art Hill

Monday, September 24, 2015 7:30 PM
The Trombones of the STL Symphony at the Public Media Commons

Friday, October 2, 2015 7:00 PM
STL Landmarks Series: Saint Louis Art Museum

Friday, October 9, 2015 12:00 PM
STL Landmark Series: Old Courthouse

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 7:00 PM
STL Landmark Series: Central Library

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

Upcoming Events

Boutique Volunteer Meet & Greet
Sat, August 22, 9:30am
Centene Center

Instrument Playground
Mon, August 24, 6:45pm
Public Media Commons

Youth Orchestra Orientation Lunch and Tours
Sat, August 29, 11am
Powell Hall

Friends Committee Thank-a-thon
Tues, September 1, 9-11am
Centene Center

Executive Board Meeting
Wed, September 9, 10am
Centene Center

Instrument Playground Season Kick-Off
Fri, September 11, 9am
Centene Center

SVA Board Retreat
Saturday, September 12, 9am-noon
Centene Center

Opening Weekend Gala Celebration with Joshua Bell
Sat, September 19, 5pm


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2014/15 season (as of 6/30/15).