News & Notes - March 2016

From the SVA President

You can feel the energy humming in the St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association office these days with so many of our special event programs coming to fruition and ongoing programs continuing to charge along. A few days ago, the Picture the Music committee was prepping for the awards ceremony, while Express the Music screeners read through folders full of student essays and poems, and Gypsy Caravan volunteers worked on vendor assignments—and these were just the activities going on concurrently within the office. 

The Picture the Music Awards Ceremony took place on Thursday, March 3. The new Four Seasons of Fashion event is scheduled for Monday, April 4 and the Express the Music Awards Ceremony follows on Wednesday, April 13. A short break follows before Gypsy Caravan rolls in on Memorial Day. Each of these programs requires a large volunteer turnout on event day beyond those on the steering committee, so please plan to volunteer a shift to support them when recruitment begins. Gypsy Caravan in particular is a great place to introduce friends to the SVA by recruiting them to volunteer with you. Those that I’ve invited to volunteer have loved the experience—and it is an experience.

Membership continues to grow with more consistent outreach and focused efforts on integrating new members quickly into the organization. Membership attendance has also increased, with more than 100 members and their guests attending the marvelous Winter Membership Meeting, where members were wowed by Miran Halen’s performance along with her surprise accompanist, husband David Halen. Membership meeting attendance is up 56% year-to-date, a reflection of the both the Membership Committee’s planning and efforts in engagement.

Speaking of great year-to-date results, STL Symphony results vs. last year are looking great, with sales, attendance and fundraising figures all trending up. We can help keep these trends moving in the right direction by introducing others to the STL Symphony, forwarding on special ticketing emails and generally acting as vocal advocates of the orchestra and its programs wherever we are.

Finally, special thanks to the Membership Committee for their important work updating membership records. Your contribution to the Annual Campaign by June 30, which acts as your renewal, will help the committee prepare for the 2016/17 SVA year, which begins on September 1. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

Please read further for more detail and information about what is going on in the many areas of the SVA. Thank you for being a part of this wonderful organization supporting one of the finest orchestras in the world.


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


New Members
The New Member program, under Chair Sara Fabick and Vice Chair Terri Ciccolella, has been extremely successful this year, both in terms of recruitment and encouraging engagement. Twelve new members were welcomed as attendees at the Winter Membership Meeting, seated with their SVA mentors. The mentors will continue to follow their new members throughout the first year and into the second until the new members find their “spot” and a home within the SVA.

Additionally, we are pleased to welcome the following new members since the last News & Notes was published: Margaret Ganyard, Terese Messman, James Mueller, Beth Reichman and Fran Krame. Each new member brings a wonderful new set of skills and interests and we look forward to working together with them.

Membership Renewal
As a reminder, SVA members who have not yet made a gift of $75 or more (Sonata level) to the Annual Campaign will be sent a reminder in April to make their donation by the end of June. All SVA members must be Sonata level or higher donors to the STL Symphony to initiate and/or maintain membership. 

We are requesting that donations be made by June 30 so our Membership Committee has time to update records and committees toward the goal of producing an accurate directory at the start of our program year, which begins September 1.

New & Prospective Member Event
The New & Prospective Membership Committee has planned a spring party to introduce potential members to the SVA and introduce new members to our programs. The event is set for Monday, April 25, at the home of Yvonne and Jim Greenwood, Class of 2013, who want to help welcome others into the fold. If you are a new member or know of someone who might be interested in learning more about the SVA, please contact Sara Fabick.

Winter Membership Meeting
More than 100 members and guests filled The Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus on Saturday, February 27, for a wonderful brunch and meeting planned by Membership Vice Chair Jarmaine Migala. After meeting and greeting over coffee and fruit, guests were invited to their tables for Neiman Marcus’s legendary popovers and consommé before enjoying a delicious brunch buffet.

John Easley, VP and Chief Philanthropy Officer, shared some great news from the STL Symphony, noting that classical attendance is up 2.3% and overall attendance is up 3.9% vs. last year, wonderful trends for the organization as the STL Symphony looks to engage new audience members. Additionally, the Annual Campaign is at two-thirds of its $7.4 million annual goal in the first six months of the fiscal year. The philanthropy team has been striving to secure gifts and pledges early in the fiscal year: the operating budget is dependent upon these funds and knowing the pool available for the year is crucial to proper allocation of resources. John reported that the strategic plan had been presented to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and that, after presentation to and approval by the full board, he would be pleased to share highlights with the SVA. He added that the that the plan is broken into three areas, 1) The Music, the Experience and Our Brand, 2) Audience and Community, and 3) Institutional Culture and Capacity. The strategic plan, when accepted, will set the direction for the next several years.

After updates from Executive Committee members, Kent and Jane McNeil highlighted this year’s Gypsy Caravan. Miran Halen, chair of Four Seasons of Fashion followed, updating the membership on the new event and our goal to not only raise funds for the STL Symphony, but to expand its reach and bring new audiences. Thus far, Four Seasons of Fashion is looking very successful on both counts, with more than $100,000 raised to date in sponsorships and Patron Level ticket sales, and over half of the donors and attendees new to the STL Symphony.

Miran then switched gears from outstanding event chair to mesmerizing singer and performer. Walking to the performance area, Miran introduced her accompanist who joined her on the accordion. She then surprised the group with her second and best loved accompanist, her husband David Halen. The music ranged from achingly beautiful to full and flowing, and Miran worked the crowd to the delight of all. It was an incredible and memorable treat for the many members and record number of guests.

The Spring Membership Meeting is planned as a luncheon on Friday, May 6. The location is still to be determined, but you can be sure the team is planning to charm the membership again. Be sure to place the date on your calendars now.

One & Done
The new Symphony Shuttle program for the Friday, February 19, Coffee Concert was a success. Recognizing that transportation and parking can be a deterrent to some concert attendees, the STL Symphony chartered a luxury motor coach that departed from the St. Louis County Library Headquarters to take guests to Powell Hall. Concertgoers purchased tickets through the Box Office for the shuttle at the cost of $15/person. An SVA member took tickets and welcomed people on board. A real treat for riders was the presence of recently-retired STL Symphony violinist Lorraine Glass-Harris, who shared stories about her time as a musician with the orchestra, making transit time fly by. After the concert, the shuttle returned guests back to the Library. Shuttle guests were delightful and delighted to have the opportunity to attend the concert in comfort. The STL Symphony's marketing department has determined that the shuttle program will be a valuable addition to the Coffee Concerts and will consider additional series concerts in the future. Visit for more details, and please spread the word with friends and family!


Picture the Music
The awards ceremony for the 26th annual Picture the Music competition took place on Thursday, March 3, during which 100 talented young students received recognition for their visual interpretations of the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Picture the Music committee, chaired by Linda Seibert, worked throughout the summer and fall to update teacher listings and connect with fine arts coordinators to increase the reach of the program. Additionally, a new registration form was developed so that the STL Symphony's education department could capture PTM teacher information.

With constantly changing teacher rolls, ensuring an accurate database of teachers is challenging. Introducing the program to a new group of teachers and convincing them of its value, amid all of the demands on their teaching time, is even more so. The committee’s hard work paid off. This year, 14,481 students from 82 schools participated in the program, up almost 5% vs. last year. Participating teachers value the program for many reasons, including a format that enables their students to engage their imagination across disciplines, and which allows students with a variety of learning styles, gifts and challenges to be successful and take pride in their work.

The pride of the finalists family was clearly on display at the ceremony, which provides not only an opportunity to celebrate the children, but introduces many attendees to Powell Hall for the first time. The finalists’ artwork will be on display at Powell Hall through March 13, after which time it will begin its tour throughout the area.

Among the 100 finalists, one top winner is chosen in the K-3rd grade category and another in the 4th-6th grade category to be named Maestro winners. This year, the youngest among those in their respective categories were selected Maestro winners. Kindergartner Kerrigan Miller from Dardenne Elementary School was selected as the Maestro winner in K-3rd and 4th grade homeschooler Saskia Dentman was selected Maestro winner in 4th-6th. Congratulations go to all of these talented students and to the teachers who guided them to use their imaginations to translate the music into art on the page.

Express the Music
On Saturday, February 20, the SVA office was humming—very quietly—as volunteer readers ranked and screened 134 senior high entries and 295 entries from junior high students to the Express the Music competition. These entries were selected and entered by participating teachers from 1,641 students who listened to the musical selection and responded via written word. Readers listened to the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream while ranking in order to better determine how each entry reflected the music used as inspiration, in addition to reviewing the entries for sheer skill and imagination. A well articulated scoring rubric guided volunteers in their rankings. Following Reading Day, top ranked essays and poems were sent to the judges: Diane Scollay, Dr. Terry Gates, Carolyn Lesser and Cathy Beck, all professionals in the English and writing fields, for the final selection of 50 award winners who will be invited to the Express the Music Award Ceremony at Powell Hall on Wednesday, April 13, along with their families and teachers.   

Instrument Playground
The Instrument Playground team shared their enthusiasm, along with their instruments, with the very little ones attending the Tiny Tunes concert on Tuesday, March 1, and will support the upcoming Family Concerts at Powell Hall on March 13 and April 17. The committee will also take IP into schools during March supporting education department programming, traveling to Johnson Wabash Elementary School  on Monday, March 14, and Better Learning Center Elementary School on Wednesday, March 23.

If you are interested in joining the Instrument Playground Committee, please email 


Fashion Show
Four Seasons of Fashion, the vision and brainchild of Chair Miran Halen, is taking place in less than a month on Monday, April 4, at Powell Hall. Response to the event, a vintage haute couture fashion show interwoven with a chamber performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, has been tremendous. Sponsorships and Patron Level reservations have brought in more than $100,000 to date, with general admission invitations mailed just last week. With a full evening of food and entertainment, the $125 general admission price offers an exceptional experience and a stunning evening. Proceeds benefit the orchestra and its community and music education programs. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.

The committee is continuing to finalize the list of silent auction items and your suggestions are appreciated. While varied, the silent auction is focusing on experiences, fashion, beauty, fitness and food. If you have a contact for a special experience, service or item that can be finalized quickly, please contact Janice Seele at 714-642-3376 for donation forms. 

Volunteer recruitment is in progress. More than 30 positions are available for the evening to greet guests, assist with check–in, assist with the silent auction, act as ushers, dressers, and guides, and to provide the extra hospitality and fun will make this event one of the highlights of the spring. To volunteer, please contact Jean Saunders at 314-821-1657.

Once again, Friends Committee Chair Vi Steinmeyer organized SVA members to gather at Centene on Friday, March 4, to call Friends of the Symphony, those donating $75 to $1,499, to thank them for their support. More than 400 donors were called within two hours, and the conversations that took place were extremely rewarding. The donors were very appreciative that volunteers care enough about the STL Symphony to express their thanks.

Gypsy Caravan
Within an hour of the Gypsy Caravan vendor contract going online, the commitments started pouring in. Co-Chairs Kent and Jane McNeil have been working for months on new vendor recruitment to keep this 44-year-old event fresh, exciting and “buzzworthy." One goal is to bring back a contingent of quilters, given the indoor capacity of The Family Arena. Responding to vendor surveys, the committee has also made layout changes to the arena floor and mezzanine to further enhance shopper movement and comfort. Shuttle flow to and from off-site parking has been revised to minimize wait times, with shuttles added during peak shopper hours. For an event as large as Gypsy Caravan, logistics reigns as king and the experienced team continues to fine-tune every detail.

While the event is still more than two months away, the Gypsy Caravan committee would like the assistance of every member in recruiting new vendors, who can find more information and register for the event

Close to 300 volunteer shifts are needed to manage the event over Memorial Day weekend. Please plan to volunteer for a shift at the event. Friends and relatives are also encouraged to volunteer, particularly those young enough to easily manage some of the more manual activities. Volunteers receive wristbands giving them free entry to the entire event and new volunteers to Gypsy Caravan usually find they’ve had a great time while doing good.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016 at 8:00pm
Symphony In Your College: Truman State University

Monday, March 28, 2016 at 7:00pm
Symphony In Your College: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 7:00pm
SymphonyCares and Symphony In Your College: Maryville University

Friday, April 1, 2016 at 7:00pm
Symphony Where You Worship: Second Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 6:30pm
Symphony Where You Worship: Canaan Baptist Church

Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 7:30pm
Symphony Where You Worship: Peace Lutheran Church

Monday, April 11, 2016 at 5:30pm
Symphony in the City: Sneak Peek with Shannon Wood

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 7:00pm
Symphony In Your Neighborhood: 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, Volunteer Programs, Office Hours: Mon-Thurs, 10:00am-3:00pm

Upcoming Events

Instrument Playground
Sun, Mar 13, 2pm
Powell Hall

Mon, Mar 14. 8:30am
Johnson Wabash Elementary School

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

One & Done: Bus Ambassadors
Fri, Mar 18, 8:45am
St. Louis Public Library Headquarters

Coffee Concert
Fri, Mar 18, 10:30am
Powell Hall

Four Seasons of Fashion
Mon, Apr 4, 6:30pm
Powell Hall

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

Express the Music Awards Ceremony
Wed, Apr 13, 7pm
Powell Hall


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 1/31/16)