News & Notes - November 2015

From the SVA President

If there is a theme for this year, it is engagement. Our goal is to keep members engaged through more and more personal communication and contact, and more varied and meaningful volunteer opportunities.

Last month’s Fall Membership Meeting definitely fit the bill in terms of engagement.  Ninety Symphony Volunteer Association members and STL Symphony staff, mixed, mingled and enjoyed cocktails and appetizers from the patio and clubroom of the Probstein Golf Clubhouse in Forest Park as the sun set, followed by a delicious dinner. The murmur of animated conversations was wonderful as members reconnected for the new season. Dinner was preceded by a gorgeous, flowing movement from a Telemann sonata performed by Laura Dwyer, flute; Marie-Hélène Bernard, viola de gamba; and Bjorn Ranheim, cello. Immediately following dinner, Bjorn treated guests to an achingly beautiful performance of movements from a Bach cello suite and answered questions from the group. Huge thanks go to Regular Membership Chair Dotti Fischer, Vice Chair Jarmaine Migala and their committee for planning and executing such a thoroughly enjoyable evening. 

Please take a look at the list of upcoming SVA events and a look back at those just completed. There are so many ways SVA volunteers are supporting the STL Symphony right now, which is feeling especially dynamic under the leadership of Marie-Hélène Bernard. Following the presentation and approval of the STL Symphony’s strategic plan, we will be looking at our own programs again to make sure we are supporting the overall plans with our own. While many of our committees are busy in the planning stages of their programs, One & Done, Powell Hall Tours and Instrument Playground in particular have been responding to a flurry of requests from STL Symphony staff to support special events as External Affairs outreach grows and Marie-Hélène is introduced to different stakeholders of the STL Symphony and St. Louis region. Powell Hall Opportunities committees are also running in full force. The activity level is exciting and we would like all of our members to be a part of it, so say “yes!" the next time you see a request for assistance.

It is clear our members want more opportunities to gather together and introduce guests to the SVA and the STL Symphony. Toward that end, Membership planned a quick and easy gathering of members to enjoy one of the Landmark Series concerts together at the Missouri History Museum on Tuesday, November 10. You should also have received an invitation by now to attend an open rehearsal on Friday, November 20. Members may bring an unlimited number of guests and may also stay to listen to a discussion about the concert, with boxed lunches available by reservation. 

In the meantime, one of the most important things we all can do is attend STL Symphony performances and encourage our own networks to attend and support our orchestra as well. I’ve been so impressed at the information that Marie-Hélène and the rest of the STL Symphony staff has been sharing with us as partners and ambassadors toward building audience, impact and financial strength. I hope you had a chance to read the board report that we distributed last week and which you can expect to receive monthly. Under the fundraising section below, I have included the development department’s recently developed core communication messages supporting this year’s artistic theme of “Music Tells the Story." The points can help us all promote the STL Symphony in our own communication with others. We know that we are incredibly fortunate to have an orchestra of this caliber in our city. We need to let others know as well.


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

SVA Board Notes

Thank you to the following members who have recently accepted board positions with the SVA: Susanne Mertens, One & Done Chair; John Carr, Gypsy Caravan Vice Chair; and Bev Cox, Picture the Music Vice Chair. Each of them brings strong skill sets to their new positions and their participation will continue to strengthen the organization and their respective committees. Thanks also go to the Nominating Committee under Chair Carolyn Farrell, who worked quickly and well to fill these openings with such qualified individuals.


Regular Membership
The Fall Membership Meeting in October was wonderfully planned. Not only was it held at a lovely location with a stellar program, but the committee ensured that members felt invited, making personal calls to those they believed might not have received the email invitation. The result was a full and lively room of 90 people. The animated din in the room was energizing and reinforced the SVA Board’s commitment to providing more fun opportunities for members to spend time socializing and to introduce guests to the STL Symphony and the SVA.

Toward that end, Membership has planned a couple of events for the month of November. First, members were invited to attend the free Landmark Series concert at the Missouri History Museum on Tuesday, November 10, and to meet at Bixby’s for lunch prior to the concert. Following the concert, SVA members and their guests toured the exhibits together. Next, SVA members are invited to bring as many guests as they would like to attend the Open Rehearsal on Friday, November 20 at 10:00am.  Following the break, members and guests are invited to join Associate Director of Volunteer Programs Laura Dwyer for a discussion about the concert. As a special treat, Laura  and some friends, who also happen to be fine musicians, will perform for the group. Boxed lunches will be available for those with reservations. Look for the invitation in your inbox and do invite guests! This is a perfect opportunity for you to share the STL Symphony you love with others. 

New & Prospective
The New & Prospective Member Committee has been out in the community introducing music lovers to the SVA at a variety of events throughout the fall and is pleased to welcome these additional new members into the SVA family: Susan Bosse, Susan Dobmeyer, Arthur Gregg, Jackie Gross, Karen Nichols, Dennis Sarris, Glenna and James Schindler, Peggy and Richard Strelinger, Steve and Madelaine Seele, and Sharon Voss. Chair Sara Fabick is pleased to report that she has sent membership information to several others and is in the process of helping them find their place in the organization. The approach is hands-on so that new members can quickly become comfortable and feel part of this special organization. 

In addition to brand new members receiving personal contact, those joining in 2014 during the transition period have been contacted again to make sure they have been properly welcomed. The New & Prospective Member Party took place on Wednesday, November 11 at 6:00pm at the home of Janice Seele included not only members joining in 2015, but also those who joined in 2014 as well as several who are simply interested in the organization. Guests were treated to a musical performance by Laura Dwyer and other STL Symphony spouseswonderful musicians in their own rightand enjoyed wine and appetizers, socializing with others and learning more about the SVA and how they can make a difference within the organization. 

Sara remarked, “Members Agnes Levin and Libby Weinman invited me to join the SVA in 2005 and took me to a General Meeting. New & Prospective Chair Linda Lee sent me the most gracious letter welcoming me into the organization. Edith Wenzel learned my name immediately and welcomed me at every event I attended that year.  Our entire Membership group is working hard to make sure that our newest members feel warmly welcomed, too. We have a tough act to follow in an organization that is very proud of its history.”

One & Done
The One & Done Committee has been busy at a number of events and activities supporting the STL Symphony this fall, including assisting with specialized mailings  and at several of the various events planned to introduce Marie-Hélène to the St. Louis community, greeting and guiding guests along with other tasks as needed.  Recently, volunteers had a hoot at the Hoot & Howl Family Concert, helping excited young concertgoers decorate and mount paper bats to “fly” at key times during the concert.

One & Done volunteers help stretch the resources of a very lean and busy staff and are fortunate to have the chance to get to know and work with these dedicated and talented individuals. The opportunities are generally both limited-time and time-sensitive. Please say “yes!” the next time a One & Done request comes through to you. You’ll be pleased that you did.

Committee Rosters
Committee rosters can now be found on the SVA webpage.

Membership Reminders
Nametags: 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 Renewals: Donations of $75 or above received between July 1 and June 30 will count towards SVA membership for the following season. Members will be sent reminders to make their $75+ donation to the STL Symphony in the spring (April-June 30) prior to the June 30 deadline if they have not yet done so. This June 30 deadline gives the Membership Committee time to follow up with members, record or renew members’ committee preferences, and put the directory in order prior to the beginning of the following STL Symphony season.

Directories: Membership directories were printed and available beginning at the Fall Membership Meeting on Wednesday, October 14. Members may still 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 throughout the year so that is can be edited in the online directory and in all committee records.


Instrument Playground
Instrument Playground was a huge hit at the Hoot & Howl Family Concert on Sunday, October 25, giving over 150 of the children in attendance a chance to hold and produce sound (and some actual music) from the instruments. The children were delighted with their efforts, as were their parents and the enthusiastic volunteers. Instrument Playground’s presence made the pre-concert activities even more special for the families attending and certainly created great memories and future patrons. In November, the IP Committee will take the program into schools with which the education department is establishing ongoing relationships with the goal of creating budding musicians and music lovers. The committee is always looking for additional volunteers with some instrumental experience as well as those who simply want to light up the faces of children through music.

Picture the Music/Express the Music
Both Picture the Music and Express the Music are on track with their promotion of the programs to teachers and school district staff, having sent postcards and posting the program on the website. The committees are making as many personal contacts as possible to make sure that teachers know about these wonderful programs. Still, personal contact from a stranger is not the same as personal contact from someone you already know. The committee is asking SVA members to spread the word about these programs to friends with contacts at schools, whether they be as parents, grandparents, teachers, or staff, and encourage them to go to the website for further information at or

Education Concert Ambassadors
Imagine the scene preceding the Education Concerts. Countless buses pull up to the Delmar side of Powell Hall and animated children spill out, eager to listen to a concert programmed just for them. For most, it is the first time they have been to Powell Hall.  The teachers are temporarily in hen-mode, each counting his or her chicks as they disembark. The newness of the trip and enthusiasm of the children create a happy bit of chaos on the sidewalk needing a little channeling and direction. That’s where the Education Concert Ambassadors step in, welcoming the children to Powell with a big smile and, importantly, helping to guide and direct teachers and their charges down the sidewalk to their proper entrances so that the morning is not only exciting, but safe. This dedicated group of volunteers is looking for a few additions to the team to help ensure the well-being and safety of the children. The benefits to the volunteers include thousands of small, smiling faces and the opportunity to take in the enchantment of an Education Concert and its magical effect on the students. The STL Symphony has six of eight Young People’s Concerts remaining this season, always held on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Please contact Marilyn Gordon to join this important team.

The Boutique is running smoothly under Team Leader Ellen Brommelhorst with several new CDs and products available; however, there is a need for additional lead cashiers. Please consider joining this well-oiled machine of a team. Boutique volunteers have the pleasure of wonderful interaction with the public while at the Boutique and also have the opportunity enjoy the concert.

Coffee Concerts
Seemingly small things can make great changes in the guest experience. Powell Hall has switched coffee suppliers to Community Coffee and people are definitely noting and appreciating the difference. Additionally, tea is now being offered regularly so that guests who appreciate a hot beverage can have a choice.

Powell Hall Tours
Powell Hall Tour committee members assisted with the recent Education Concerts on October 27 and 28 by giving tours of Powell Hall to students from five different schools from Missouri and Illinois. They have also given tours for recent donor appreciation events and did the same for the Saturday, November 14 subscriber appreciation event. These tours truly deepen the Powell Hall experience and create lasting impressions for all groups, young and old.


Gypsy Caravan
Gypsy Caravan is in planning stages. As always, the event will take place on Memorial Day, with setup activities the day before. It is not too early to put Gypsy Caravan onto your calendars, as it is an “all hands on deck” event for the SVA.

Core Communication Messages
The development department recently put together key points to use as the basis of its communication about the STL Symphony with sponsors, corporate and individual donors. These points tie into the overall artistic theme of “Music Tells the Story” and tell a great story about our own STL Symphony and its impact. Our reinforcement of these messages as we speak with others can help with overall development efforts and can help us be better ambassadors for the STL Symphony in general.

1. Your gift supports the excellence and legacy of the St. Louis Symphony, one of America’s greatest musical treasures. Founded in 1880, the STL Symphony is our nation’s second oldest orchestra and widely considered one of the world’s very finest. Critical acclaim follows Music Director David Robertson and the STL Symphony wherever they perform, from Powell Hall to Carnegie Hall, to its recent European and California tours. Presenting a variety of orchestral and popular programming, the STL Symphony strives to honor tradition while embracing innovation.

2. Your gift brings members of our community together through extraordinary and artfully crafted musical experiences. Performances by the Grammy® Award-winning STL Symphony and Music Director David Robertson during our 136th season are inspired by the connections between music and storytelling—from Don Quixote to Peter and the Wolf. Your investment helps us attract and retain some of the world’s most exceptional musical talents, who are proud to call St. Louis home.

3. Our story is your story. The STL Symphony’s story, as an institution and cultural landmark, belongs to you—chapters present and past written with the loyal dedication, vision and generosity of friends like you, who support great music-making year after year. More than 250,000 people will experience live performances by the STL Symphony this season.

4. You are the hero of our story. With your support and generosity, musicians of the STL Symphony share the joy of great music in Powell Hall, and through hundreds of free programs in classrooms, hospitals and community venues across the region. With your gifts, the STL Symphony sparks a student’s lifelong love of music, comforts a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy and welcomes immigrant families who have made St. Louis their home.

5. Community support tells the story. Contributions from thousands of loyal and generous friends make the music happen. Community support—including annual giving, endowments and legacy giving—provides two-thirds of the operating budget needed each season to sustain the orchestra and its programs. In terms of community impact, the STL Symphony is one of Missouri’s largest cultural institutions, yet does not receive tax-based revenue from the Zoo Museum District, which makes your gift critical to our continuing success.

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, November 17, 2015 at 7:00pm
United Hebrew Congregation

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 7:00pm
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 7:00pm
Symphony Tuesdays in Tower Grove Park

Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 7:00pm
City of Crestwood

Friday, January 15, 2016 at 7:00pm
Second Baptist 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

Instrument Playground
Mon, Nov 16, 1:50pm
Central Elementary School

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee
Tues, Nov 17, 4:30pm-6pm
Home of Kent and Jane McNeil

Membership Open Rehearsal and Discussion
Fri, Nov 20, 10am-1:30pm
Powell Hall

One & Done: Ushers
Fri, Nov 20, 9am
Powell Hall

SVA Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Dec 2, 10am
Home of Gerry Frankenfeld


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 10/31/15).