News & Notes - October 2015

From the SVA President

The St. Louis Symphony's 2015/16 season got off to a dazzling start last month with a breathtaking opening weekend featuring Joshua Bell. After a summer of planning for the season, September also surged for the SVA, with volunteer activities supporting STL Symphony events and kick-off meetings for SVA committee events occurring later in the year. 

The STL Symphony is in the middle of the strategic planning process begun upon Marie-Hélène Bernard’s arrival and the SVA will review its goals to support those of the STL Symphony when the process is completed. Meanwhile, the SVA goals listed within this newsletter were presented at the SVA Board training retreat held in September for the 2015-2016 year. Our goals are many and may adapt to support those of the STL Symphony following its planning. We will need the support of many volunteers to reach them and hope that our volunteers will gain a great sense of satisfaction and purpose in doing so.

Our Fall Membership Meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 14 at the Probstein Golf Course. Thanks go to Regular Membership Chair and Vice Chair, Dotti Fischer and Jarmaine Migala, for planning a wonderful meeting in a lovely location with a remarkable program featuring Bjorn Ranheim, Marie-Hélène Bernard and Laura Dwyer. We hope to see many members there.

I’d also like to take this time to extend thanks to all of the committees that have worked so hard this summer to get our organization on track for the year.  Membership, under the leadership of VP Penny Bari; Dotti Fischer, Regular Membership Chair; and Sara Fabick, New & Prospective Member Chair, has done a yeoman’s job of getting outdated records back in shape, putting in systems to keep it so and connecting members and committees. Education, under VP Margaret Lahrmann, has put into place–and onto the web–the programs that will be taking place throughout the year. Gypsy Caravan, under VP Gerry Frankenfeld, and under the leadership of Kent and Jane McNeil, is already well underway addressing plans for the May event.

It feels good to have the season underway. There is a lot of work ahead of all of us to meet the goals that follow and I am grateful to all of you for your dedication.


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

SVA Board Notes

2015-2016 Symphony Volunteer Association Goals

Increase the reach of the STL Symphony in enriching people’s lives through the power of music via educational programs and special fundraising projects.

Overall: Membership
Increase the number, engagement and effectiveness of SVA volunteers in support of the STL Symphony.

Prospective and New Members

  • Increase membership 10.5% to 350 individual households from 320 and to 420 unique volunteers from 380.
    • Actively recruit new members:
      • Promote the SVA at the Forest Park Concert, Friends Open Rehearsals, and other events.
      • Host two parties/year to introduce potential and new members.
      • Improve online communication about SVA membership and improve the ease of sign up.
      • Develop new printed marketing materials for the SVA and review communications about the SVA in marketing and development pieces.
  • Increase participation of new members with 80% of new members recording either committee hours or meeting attendance.
    • Hold two training/orientation sessions/year.Ensure personal follow-up by New & Prospective Committee members for every new member.
    • Ensure that new members receive personal contact and invitations from the chairs of committees in which they‘ve expressed interest.

Regular Members

  • Develop a procedure to accurately capture member rolls and involvement.
  • Maintain 80% participation by members and increase the number of members recording 50 or more volunteer hours.
    • Ensure completion of committee sign-up sheets, follow-up by chairs, and the involvement of Member Engagement where needed.
  • Increase the number of subscriptions by SVA members to 220 from 202 and increase the number of single ticket purchases by SVA members to 125 from 112.
    • Communicate the importance of attendance and audience development by members and communicate key STL Symphony information.
  • Increase the average attendance at three General Membership Meetings by 16%, from 69 to 80.
    • Arrange a relevant and engaging program, an attractive setting and menu and personally invite members through Member Engagement.
    • Work with staff to develop and implement a process to ensure accuracy of reservations.

Membership Engagement

  • Ensure that members feel personally valued and engaged via:
    • Informative and regular communication
    • Personal contact from committee chairs and/or membership engagement team members.
  • Develop a recognition program for years of service.
  • Develop enhanced member benefits.

One & Done

  • Cultivate relationships with staff members to encourage the planning and use of One & Done services.
  • Establish procedures to better recruit, track and communicate with volunteers completing One & Done tasks.

Tech Committee

  • Establish accuracy, stability, coordination, and ease of use of data systems, software, and apps used by the SVA.
    • Review information needs and data flow between STL Symphony and SVA.
    • Establish standardized process.
  • Provide training to other committees/members.
  • Suggest improvements to current technical systems.


  • Keep members and the public informed and aware of activities and events within the organization.
    • Produce KeyNotes by early fall
      • Printed online with printed copies available for New & Prospective Membership use and for members without email.
    • Produce an updated printed issue of the membership directory for distribution at the fall meeting.
    • Produce eight Playbill articles focused on SVA activities.
    • Photograph SVA meetings and events and place online for future use.

Overall: Education
Increase the exposure to the SLSO and symphonic music by reaching 20,000 community members through SVA education projects.

Picture the Music/Express the Music

  • Increase student participation by 20% to 16,500 for PTM and to 2,160 for ETM.
    • Increase the accuracy of teacher contact information, early notification of programming and consistent contact and referral program.

Instrument Playground

  • Increase the reach of IP participation at more events in conjunction with the STL Symphony Education Department.
    • Increase the number of trained, participating volunteers.
    • Close coordination with the Education Department
  • Prepare for smooth transition to the next IP Chair, including documentation of all processes
  • Track the number of students served by IP as accurately as possible.

Powell Hall Opportunities

  • Increase the level of engagement between the STL Symphony and the public at Powell Hall, acting as welcoming ambassadors in a variety of areas, including, Boutique, Powell Hall Tours, Bus Ambassadors, Coffee Concerts and Youth Orchestra.
  • Recruit and manage volunteer scheduling for greater opportunities for more members.
  • Boutique: Increase the number of trained lead cashiers to 25; offer year round orientation and training on systems and merchandise.   
  • Tours: Offer a tour of Powell Hall to SVA members; increase the shared list of tour ideas.
  • Education Concert Ambassadors: Double the pool of ambassadors to 20 to enable taking on bus host duties.
  • Coffee Concerts: Balance work schedules for the volunteers
  • Youth Orchestra: Increase the number of events at which the SVA can support the Youth Orchestra.

Overall: Fundraising
Increase the net revenue contributed to the STL Symphony via SVA fundraising to $200,000 by continuing the growth of Gypsy Caravan and developing a second fundraising event.

Gypsy Caravan

Return event net operating revenue equal to 2015 and increase sponsorship revenue to $20,000 with the assistance of development staff.

Gala/Special Events/Friends

Augment the reach of STL staff development efforts.


General Membership
The Membership Committee will hold a Meet & Greet at the SVA office on Saturday, November 7 from 10am-12pm. After a very busy few months, this presents committee members with a great opportunity to get to know other members serving in different areas of Membership and to simply enjoy each others’ company.

New & Prospective
A New & Prospective party is planned for Wednesday, November 11 at 6pm at the home of Janice Seele for all of those joining in the 2014-2015 season, brand new members and those interested in joining. The New & Prospective Membership Committee has been extremely busy for the past couple of months, catching the SVA up in this important area, which had fallen behind due to issues with the database.  Sara Fabick has been leading this charge, making personal contact with both those expressing interest in joining the SVA and those who had joined online over the past several months but had been lost in the system. Members are encouraged to invite those who might be interested in joining to attend the New & Prospective party and to attend themselves to welcome and engage with new and prospective members. Amid plenty of time to socialize with others, committee heads will give brief overviews of their areas and be available for questions.

Membership Renewals
A new process for membership renewals will be put into place for the coming year in order to streamline and improve the recording of membership for the SVA, the STL Symphony and members themselves. SVA members do not pay dues to the SVA, rather, those donating $75 or more to the Annual Campaign may elect to join the SVA. In the past, these donations, and the SVA membership of the donors, have been recorded as they have come in throughout the year. However, rolling renewal dates have caused confusion for members and the organization.

Beginning this year, we are simplifying the renewal process as per the following:

  • The renewal date for all members will be set as June 30.
  • All donations of $75 or above received between September 1 and June 30 will count towards SVA membership for the following season. 
    • Please be sure to mark “SVA” in the memo line if donating by check or click the box stating you’d like to volunteer with the Symphony Volunteer Association if donating online.
    • In the Spring (April-June 30), members will be sent reminders to make their $75+ donation to the STL Symphony prior to the June 30 deadline if they have not yet done so. 
      • Importantly, the June 30 deadline will give the Membership Committee time to follow up with members, record and/or renew members’ committee preferences and put the directory in order prior to the beginning of the following STL Symphony season.

Finally, with the current renewal system, several members have not received notice that their donations are due for continued membership. These members will soon be contacted to bring their donations up to date after which the new system should allow membership renewals to take place more smoothly. Thank you for your patience as we have sorted through these important processes.

New Members
The SVA is pleased to welcome the following new members: Margaret Gilleo, Ellen and Graham Moses, Emily Moses, Joan Laurent, Nancy Reycraft and Lois Wright.  Please be sure to welcome these new members personally.


Many of you volunteer in positions where your SVA nametag is very important. If you have lost yours and would like another, please send a note to Laura Dwyer asking for a replacement nametag. Nametags are $10, payable with a check made out to the SVA, with "nametag" in the memo line, and mailed to Laura at Powell Hall. She will make it available for easy pick up before your next volunteer shift at the guard desk (Delmar side of Powell Hall) Note: Nametags take two weeks to produce.

Membership Directory
Membership directories have been printed to be available at the Fall Membership Meeting on October 14. Members who cannot pick up their directories at this time may arrange to get the directory at committee meetings and assignments or at the Boutique during STL Symphony concerts. Throughout the year, the online directory is updated. Please contact Dotti Fischer, Regular Membership Chair, with any change in contact information so that is can be changed in the online directory and in all committee records.


Picture the Music/Express the Music
Teachers have been notified about Picture the Music and Express the Music via postcards and emails directing them to the Picture the Music and Express the Music online teacher materials. This year, teachers are being directed to an enrollment site, which will help the SVA and the Education Department better update and coordinate contact databases and overall education outreach. Margaret Lahrmann, Education VP, reports that postcards were mailed in mid-September and the new enrollment site is getting a good response. Teachers are also being directed to these programs from the main Education page on the Symphony website. The chairs for both of these committees have been at work all summer updating materials and updating contact information and will hold kick-off meetings with their full committees this month. To find out more about these programs, along with Instrument Playground, go to and click on program name.

Instrument Playground
The Instrument Playground committee was in full force again at the concert in the Public Media Commons on Monday, September 28, which featured the trombones of the STL Symphony. Along with the many children learning about and trying the instruments, Instrument Playground volunteers were pleased to assist the many older teens and adults eager to experience the joy and delight of making sound with the instruments.

The concerts in the Public Media Commons have received great support from The Nine Network. The participation of Instrument Playground and its enthusiastic volunteers enhance the evening of all of the concertgoers and support the STL Symphony’s outreach objectives in a new and exciting way. The committee is always looking for new volunteers to extend its reach. Its own committee members have been its most passionate and effective recruiters, but there is plenty of room for new members.

Powell Hall Opportunities
SVA volunteers have been busy supporting the Boutique this season since early September. Several new and restocked items are now being offered for sale.  Additionally, during Live at Powell, Family and Holiday concerts, brochures for non-subscription concerts will be made available at the Boutique. Powell Hall Tours held its Meet & Greet event on Monday, September 28, sharing fun facts about Powell Hall to present to visitors. Bus Ambassadors have been renamed Education Concert Ambassadors in order to better reflect their mission to greet, direct and help ensure the safety of students visiting Powell Hall during Education Concerts. Coffee Concert volunteers have begun making Friday morning concerts a little sweeter.


Gypsy Caravan
The Gypsy Caravan committee is moving forward with the 2016 event, kicking off with a planning meeting at the home of chairs Kent and Jane McNeil last month.  Many issues were discussed, with a focus on continuing to improve parking, shuttles, vendor recruitment, communication and experience. Gypsy Caravan is the SVA’s largest and most complex fundraiser and its planning committee brings a wealth of skills to the process. Members looking to take part in this type of rewarding and involving committee experience should contact Kent and Jane McNeil. Additionally, the full support of all SVA members is needed to fill the hundreds of volunteer shifts required to execute the event over Memorial Day weekend, a fun and exhilarating experience. Please keep the date in mind as you plan the coming year and take part in this long-running SVA tradition.

STL Symphony Gala
Last month, SVA volunteers assisted with the STL Symphony's Opening Weekend Gala Celebration, helping to guide and direct guests throughout the evening. Several guests commented on how nice it was to receive such warm welcomes from the SVA members, who also had a most enjoyable experience. 

SVA participation in the Gala is an example of one type of partnering that STL Symphony staff has requested from the SVA for the coming year: to be gracious and enthusiastic ambassadors for the STL Symphony in a variety of areas in order to extend personal outreach and strengthen ties to the orchestra.

STL Symphony Free Community Events

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. These concerts provide great exposure for our orchestra, enriching the community and helping with audience development. Please plan to attend and share the information with others who could become future subscribers

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:00 PM
Webster Arts at Eden Theological Seminary

Monday, November 2, 2015 7:30 PM
Southeast Missouri State University

Friday, November 6, 2015 7:00 PM
Jewel Box

Sunday, November 8, 2015 7:00 PM
St. Louis Jewish Book Festival Concert

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 1:30 PM
STL Landmarks Series: Missouri History Museum

Thursday, November 12, 2015 7:00 PM
St. Francis Xavier (College) Church

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 7:00 PM
United Hebrew Congregation

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 7:00 PM
On Stage at Powell: Brass Extravaganza

Thursday, November 19, 2015 7:00 PM
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

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

Fall Membership Meeting
Wed, October 14, 5:30pm
Probstein Golf Club in Forest Park

Picture the Music Kick-Off Meeting
Thurs, October 15, 1:30pm
Centene Center

Coffee Concert
Fri, October 16, 10:30am
Powell Hall

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee
Tues, October 20, 4:30-6pm
Home of Kent and Jane McNeil

Board Meeting
Thurs, October 22, 11:15am
Centene Center

Family Concert
Instrument Playground/Crafts
Sun, October 25, 3pm
Powell Hall

Education Concert and Tours
Tues, October 27, 9:30am/11am
Wed, October 28, 9:30am/11am
Powell Hall

Instrument Playground
Mon, November 2, 12:45pm
St. Joan of Arc School

Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, November 4, 10am
Centene Center

Coffee Concert
Fri, November 6, 10:30am
Powell Hall

Membership Meet & Greet
Sat, November 7, 10am-12pm
Centene Center

Instrument Playground
Tues, November 10, 8:05am
Windsor Elementary School

New & Prospective Member Party
Wed, November 11, 6pm-8pm
Home of Janice Seele


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 9/30/15).