News & Notes - December 2015

From the SVA President

Each month, different committees of the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association are especially busy, moving from the planning to execution stage and back again to review and plan. This past month, the Membership area was particularly active with a New & Prospective Member Party with 35 guests, two membership gatherings involving over 50 guests collectively, and many One & Done opportunities. In the Education area, Powell Hall Opportunities was in full force all month with Coffee Concerts, Boutique and Tours, while away from Powell Hall, Instrument Playground took its presentation on the road to several schools. In January, Picture the Music will receive the entries from teachers with whom it has been communicating all autumn and begin to prepare the entries for February’s judging. In the Fundraising area, too, the planning taking place throughout the fall will begin to bear fruit in January when the Gypsy Caravan materials become available and vendor contracts start pouring in.  Meanwhile, many other committees are constantly reviewing their goals and planning their activities to reach them.

One new project that has been in the quiet planning stage this fall is a new and exciting fashion show fundraiser scheduled to take place on Monday, April 4, 2016. A joint STL Symphony/SVA fundraiser, spearheaded by Miran Halen, it promises to be an extraordinary evening with beautiful fashions, a hot designer, gorgeous music, enticing auction items, delicious food and fabulous crowd. You can read more about the event further in this newsletter and do plan to be there!

In other news, the development department, under which the SVA falls, has been renamed “Office of Philanthropy” and John Easley’s title is now Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer. Additionally, effective January 11, John will add Amy Drummond to his team as Associate Vice President, Philanthropy. Amy has a strong background in giving, currently serving as Senior Director, Capital Projects at Washington University, supporting its $2.2 billion capital campaign, and has past experience at the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis University Cancer Center and Coro Leadership Center. 

The STL Symphony released its Community Report for the 2014/2015 season and I encourage you to review it here. Our STL Symphony is having enormous impact in the community, with more than 250,000 people attending performances at Powell and in the community, another quarter of a million people listening in on live broadcasts through St. Louis Public Radio, and 360,000 people viewing STL Symphony concerts on The Nine Network! More than 26,000 students were able to attend Education Concerts and our education and community programs reached people in 44 zip codes! As I am learning through the STL Symphony Strategic Planning process, this type of commitment to the community at all levels is somewhat rare among orchestras and we are more fortunate for it than we realize.

Last, on a more personal note, I hope to see many of you at some of the wonderful holiday performances planned for the season. Then, immediately following the holidays, be sure to attend our Winter Heat celebration on Wednesday, January 6 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. This wonderful party is given to the SVA by the STL Symphony staff and is held in the holiday-dazzling lobby of Powell Hall. It is all conversation, food, and music—no meeting, just mixing—and is a marvelous way to catch up after the holidays with friends.

Happy Holidays!


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


Winter Heat
Mark your calendar for Winter Heat on Wednesday, January 6 from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. This annual event is a gift given to the STL Symphony volunteers as a thank you by the STL Symphony staff, who plan and organize a bountiful and delicious buffet of appetizers and beverages in the holiday-decorated lobby of Powell Hall. Volunteers at the event will also be treated to a gorgeous musical performance. Why Winter Heat? Because this much-loved and well-attended event offers volunteers the opportunity to get together for a warm and spirited evening with friends on what is generally a very frigid night. This wonderful event is provided free to all SVA volunteers. Look for your emailed invitation and be sure to remind others about coming. This is one party invitation you don’t want getting lost in the holiday mail!

New & Prospective Member Party
Despite warnings of ominous weather, 35 people, including 15 new and prospective members, attended the New & Prospective Member party at the home of Janice Seele on Thursday, November 12. The level of warmth and gaiety among the guests inside balanced out the dour weather outside. New and prospective members had a chance to meet other members, ask questions of the Membership team and committee chairs attending and enjoy refreshments together. Prior to the start of the official program, during which guests were given an overview of the SVA and its programs, guests were treated to a marvelous and intimate performance of Haydn's London Trio No. 1 in C Major by Laura Dwyer, flute; Michael Gandlmeyer, violin; and Maggie Strong, cello. While the SVA knows Laura as our Associate Director and an impressive musician, many don’t realize that she also plays with several orchestras and occasionally plays with the STL Symphony. Michael Gandlmeyer, our Education and Youth Orchestra Programs Manager, was a member of the STL Youth Orchestra. Maggie Strong moved to St. Louis recently with her husband, trumpet player Jeffrey Strong, and is also a very talented professional musician. It was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and we look forward to getting to know our new members better.

Missouri History Museum Gathering
The SVA took advantage of the STL Landmarks Series concert at the beautiful Missouri History Museum and planned a pre-performance lunch gathering at Bixby’s, located in the museum. Twenty members enjoyed lunch together prior to the start of the concert, joined later by several others who’d been busy with other SVA-related activities, including the STL Symphony’s annual meeting and a presentation of Instrument Playground. This was the first of several casual gatherings planned for the year.

Open Rehearsal, Discussion and Lunch
The SVA took advantage of another opportunity to gather, listen and learn at an STL Symphony open rehearsal on Friday, November 20. Twenty-nine members and guests attended the open rehearsal. Following the break, they headed downstairs to the Whitaker Room and enjoyed a boxed lunch, while Tzuying Huang, bass clarinet; Ann Choomack, piccolo; and Thomas Jöstlein, Associate Principal Horn, led a brief discussion and answered questions about their experience playing the challenging Bret Dean composition featured in the weekend’s performance. Michael Gandlmeyer, Maggie Strong, Thomas Jöstlein and Laura Dwyer then played an arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s "Vocalise" as a teaser for that Friday night’s Music You Know concert and as a counterpoint to the atonal piece heard during the open rehearsal. Following this, Laura presented some ideas about how to listen to atonal music and introduced the concept of tonality vs. atonality. She invited the group to “compose” a piece using guidelines for atonal music and played the results on the flute, which sounded surprisingly interesting. Laura and Michael finished the discussion by playing excerpts from Brahms's Symphony No. 1, noting key areas to listen for during the concert. Look for other such opportunities to lunch, listen and learn in coming months.

One & Done
The One & Done Committee has been extremely busy this year as staff members have become increasingly aware of the many ways in which our volunteers can help stretch scarce resources—anything from preparing mailings to assisting as greeters and guides for the numerous non-standard performances and events required from a performing arts organization such as the STL Symphony. 

Jessica Ingraham, Director of Education and Youth Orchestra, described the relief provided by this group in the note she sent to the SVA following the E. Desmond Lee Showcase, which introduces high school musicians to the STL Symphony Youth Orchestra. “This was the first time I had ever requested volunteers for this event and it was fantastic having you all there. For the first time in four seasons I did not have to worry about students arriving and finding their way through the Hall while still trying to keep everything on stage running smoothly. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

This holiday season offers a myriad of opportunities for One & Done volunteers to show the STL Symphony their support. The next time a One & Done request opens up, respond. You’ll be glad you did.

Membership Engagement
The Membership Engagement Team has been developing a plan to reach members to touch base and determine how they want to keep involved. One program that is being reintroduced is a mentoring program to help ensure that new members find their spot within the organization. Terri Ciccolello will take responsibility for developing the mentorship program. Anyone interested in becoming a new member mentor should contact Terri.


Instrument Playground
Instrument Playground just wrapped up its fall season for 2015 with a chock-full November. This traveling “hands-on” kit of donated musical instruments supports up to six in-school programs per year, as well as Family Concerts and Tiny Tunes programs at Powell Hall. Committee members assist students in creating sounds from an instrument in each family. 

They also provide an experience of seeing and touching the instruments that students study as a component of the Symphony In Your School program. IP often begins by showing a brief presentation that encourages the children to identify the instruments and includes a series of video clips of Youth Orchestra members demonstrating the instruments. IP has found that the children relate to these near age-mates, and find the demonstrations very exciting. 

This year, with added energy and ideas from new members, the IP volunteers really upped the FUN content. Flutists Fred Tompkins, Nancy Reycraft, Christine Henry and Jan Moen serenaded the students as they entered the classroom with beautiful duets and then added percussion to create a small fife and drum corps! During class, as groups of children tried out the percussion, brass and flutes, they were encouraged to combine into "bands." With new volunteer Karen Nichols (a percussion teacher in her own right) conducting, the kids banged and tooted to the delight of children and adults alike. Thanks to Madonna Cotlar for this brilliant idea.

Through November 2015, IP reached almost 400 children total at three elementary schools, a Family Concert, and two events at the Public Media Commons. Still to come before June 2016 are two more school visits, three Family Concerts, a Tiny Tunes concert and the Picture the Music award ceremony at Powell Hall.

The committee is always looking for new members who want to share their enthusiasm and love for music. Those interested should email:


Gypsy Caravan
Gypsy Caravan is well on its way to increasing contributions to the STL Symphony with the addition of a new $10,000 sponsorship from Renewal by Anderson!   Renewal by Anderson was a vendor at last year’s event and after seeing the size and composition of the crowds, let the committee know that they’d be interested in becoming a sponsor. Sponsorships are a huge opportunity for Gypsy Caravan to raise revenue in support of STL Symphony programs. With a large and diverse crowd, sponsorships at Gypsy Caravan can make sense for companies who would like to support the orchestra, but for whom some of the usual STL Symphony sponsorships might not provide the best fit. If you know of companies who might find that a Gypsy sponsorship would fit into their marketing and philanthropic plans, please send contact information to Laura Dwyer for follow up.

Fashion Show
The STL Symphony and SVA are planning a new fundraiser, Four Seasons of Fashion, to take place the evening of Monday, April 4 on stage at Powell Hall, with the stylish and beautiful Miran Halen leading the project.  

The theme of the event will be ”vintage” with fashions provided by Cameron Silver, the new fashion director for H by Halston, and H Halston brands, and QVC host for H by Halston. He has been the owner of Decades Boutique in Los Angeles, which specializes in vintage designer clothing, and is among the hottest leading designers in the U.S. Click here to learn more about Cameron.

Musically, the theme will be The Four Seasons, with vintage fashions taking guests through styles for all seasons while treated to the music of Vivaldi.

The fashion show itself will be professionally choreographed for lighting, music, timing, models, make-up and hair. The Symphony Volunteer Association will handle "front of house" and backstage activities, such as reception, hospitality, a silent auction and assisting models with dressing. A Fashion Show committee has been formed and is working quickly to make the event fabulous and memorable for up to 250 anticipated guests. Be sure to place this fun and exciting event on your calendar!

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 7:00pm
On Stage at Powell: Brian Owens

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 7:00pm
Symphony Tuesdays in Tower Grove Park

SVA Office Location and Directions

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

Upcoming Events

One & Done: Santa’s Helpers
Fri, Dec 18, 12:30-3:30pm
Fri, Dec 18, 6-9pm
Sat, Dec 19, 12:30-3:30pm
Sat, Dec 19, 6-9pm
Sun, Dec 20, 12:30-3:30pm
Powell Hall

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee
Tue, Dec 15, 4:30-6pm
Home of Kent and Jane McNeil

One & Done: NYE Concert Preparation
Thu, Dec 31, 10am-12pm

SVA Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Jan 6, 10am-1pm
Centene Center

Winter Heat
Wed, Jan 6, 5:30-7:30pm
Powell Hall


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 11/30/15)