News & Notes - April 2016

From the SVA President

I’m still basking in the glow of a gorgeous evening last week at the Four Seasons of Fashion. Miran Halen led the committee toward a spectacular event that showcased the St. Louis Symphony at its finest. The vintage couture was stunning, the music was absolutely sublime and the energy and excitement of the guests filled Powell Hall. The event introduced many new people to the STL Symphony, raised its profile with some fabulous press and raised more than $135,000 for education and community programs!

With the Four Seasons of Fashion just finishing as the glamorous fundraiser of the year, we are approaching its high-profile cousin—the yin to its yang—our much loved Gypsy Caravan. Gypsy Caravan is the loud, boisterous fundraiser for everyone, featuring, well, everything. This 44-year-old fundraiser has brought in more than $3.5 million over the years and is as much a St. Louis Memorial Day traditional as a barbeque. The event takes an army of volunteers to play host to thousands of shoppers and vendors. Please plan on spending a portion of your Memorial Day weekend volunteering at this iconic event.

Please also remember we have changed the way we handle membership renewals. In order to join and remain an SVA volunteer during the 2016/2017 season, your $75 contribution (Sonata level) to the Annual Campaign is due by June 30. If you have not already made your gift for 2015/16, you will receive a reminder in the coming weeks. This timing will allow us to start the next season with our records in great order.

Another day to place on your calendar is Friday, May 6, for our Spring Membership Meeting, taking place at the lovely Algonquin Golf Club. Always a treat, our spring meeting allows us to celebrate a very eventful year and take a look at what next year might offer. 

I am so proud of what our organization does and for what each of you contributes to its success. I look forward to seeing you at the Spring Membership Meeting as well as at the many opportunities to support our amazing STL Symphony in the meantime!


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


New & Prospective Members
A New & Prospective Member party is planned for 6:00pm on Monday, April 25, at the home of Jim and Yvonne Greenwood for members who joined during the 2014/15 season, brand new members and those interested in joining. The New & Prospective Membership Committee has been extremely busy this year promoting the SVA wherever STL Symphony lovers gather. Members are encouraged to invite those who might be interested in joining, 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.

This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce others to the SVA! If you would like to attend and bring a friend who might be interested in joining, RSVP by Thursday, April 21, to Sara Fabick at 314-822-1183.

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. Keep a look out for a letter labeled SVA Renewal later this month with a special offer! 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.

Whether or not you’ve made your donation for the year, we encourage you to consider making a gift above the introductory level of $75 or to increase your annual giving vs. last year. In addition, your increased gift will be matched dollar for dollar by The Steward Family Challenge! Great friends of the orchestra, David and Thelma Steward, have generously pledged $150,000 to match all new or increased gifts of $75 or more to the 2016 Annual Campaign by June 30.

As an SVA member, you receive valuable perks, including free concert attendance for many volunteer activities and invitations to member-only events, including the lovely Winter Heat reception given by the STL Symphony to the volunteers each year, plus amazing small group experiences with our world-renowned musicians. Let’s keep this St. Louis treasure moving forward together!

Spring Membership Meeting
Mark your calendars and make your reservations for the Spring Membership Meeting on Friday, May 6, from 11:00am to 2:00pm. The May meeting will take place at the beautiful Algonquin Golf Club in Glendale. Traditionally, the May meeting is the most well attended of the year as the membership celebrates a job well done for the season.  Attendees at this May’s meeting will also learn about some of the exciting new initiatives for the STL Symphony, be able to learn a bit about other committees and sign up for next year, maybe trying a new assignment.

Committee Signups
There are a wide variety of committee opportunities for members throughout the year and members are encouraged to “try on” a new one now and again. Whether you are still looking for the perfect committee ‘home” or have been volunteering with a particular committee for a long time, please look for a list of committee descriptions and a sign-up list as we move toward the end of our SVA season. Area VPs and committee chairs will be on hand at the May membership meeting to answer questions for those interested in their committees.

Member Workplaces
Periodically, the philanthropy department asks the SVA if members are currently employed by or have associations with various area employers. Many businesses tie their grant allocations to organizations at which their employees and retirees volunteer. If you or your spouse is currently working or active in a particular company’s retiree organization, please contact Janice Seele to let us know your name(s) and company. Your sharing this information can really make the difference in the STL Symphony receiving a grant or not.


Picture the Music
The Picture the Music artwork exhibit continues to travel through the St. Louis area through the end of April. The exhibit will be on display at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library from April 8 through April 17, and then travel to The Magic House through April 27. If you’ve not had a chance to view the exhibit, please try to catch it at one of these upcoming locations. The program is meaningful not only in the way it ties music to art intellectually, but emotionally as well.

This year’s committee was stunned, and a little tearful, to receive a letter from a Blue Ribbon winner’s mother letting the committee know how much the award meant to her son. His beloved babysitter was killed in a car crash in the previous year and his winning picture represented his journey from the happiness he had with her, through the dark months following her death and the emergence into a joyful place where he feels her with him. The power of the music gave him the means to express himself in picture. What a gift programs like this can be to children!

Express the Music
On Wednesday, April 13, fifty junior and senior high students and their families will be honored at the Express the Music Awards Ceremony at Powell Hall. These talented students were selected as finalists based upon the essays and poems they wrote in response to the Scherzo from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night's Dream. Their work was chosen from the 434 entries submitted by participating teachers, who chose the best from their classes to send to the Express the Music Committee. In addition to recognition, top winners also receive cash awards. Cecelia Webber and her committee are to be thanked for their smooth handling of the entire process. 

Instrument Playground
Instrument Playground has just received an amazing gift from the STL Symphony Trombones, a pBone! This small, lightweight plastic trombone expands the instruments—and fun—that the IP committee can share with the children. Instrument Playground will make its final scheduled appearance of the year at the Family Concert on Sunday, April 17. Committee members have really enjoyed taking this hands-on instrument experience to children as well as playing a bit together themselves. Those interested in joining the Instrument Playground Committee should email 

Arts organizations around the state just received the great news that the Senate voted to approved $6,010,000 for the Missouri Arts Council for FY2017, a $1,010,000 increase above the core budget, and voted to approve $750,000 for the Missouri Scholars and the Missouri Fine Arts Academies for June, 2017. The House of Representatives had previously approved these same amounts.  

With these actions, for the first time in years, arts funding will NOT have to go to Conference. Advocacy for arts funding is a very important component in the state budgeting process. This year, the SVA, led by Patty Kaplan, participated in Citizen’s Day for the Arts and sent a large contingent of volunteers to speak to the legislators along with staff members Maureen Byrne and Kate-Poss Morency. These advocacy efforts do pay off. Legislators pay attention to the calls, notes and visits of constituents. Please contact your State Senator to thank them for their support of arts funding. 


Four Seasons of Fashion
The Four Seasons of Fashion event, chaired by Miran Halen and involving many SVA volunteers, was a huge success. Close to 450 guests attended the performance held on stage at Powell Hall. A 13-member chamber orchestra of STL Symphony musicians played Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and stunningly gowned models paraded across stage during the last movement within each season. Jessica Cheng, Celeste Golden Boyer, Jooyeon Kong, and Concertmaster David Halen each took the role of featured violinist in the different seasons and each gave a mesmerizing performance. The performance was preceded by a cocktail and appetizer reception and followed by champagne and dessert.  Guests were invited to purchase vintage couture fashions from fashion director, Cameron Silver, and jewelry from the featured jeweler, Barbara Bennett of Chic Boutique, following the performance. A silent auction was also part of the evening’s festivities. The evening introduced many new faces to the orchestra and Powell Hall. Proceeds from the evening benefit topped $135,000 in support of music education and community programs.

SVA members were instrumental in the planning and preparation of this event and took on many of the “front of house” roles, shining as welcoming hosts to their Powell Hall home.

Gypsy Caravan
While one major SVA fundraiser has just concluded, the largest and longest running is hot on its heels. The 44th annual Gypsy Caravan is scheduled to take place on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. With the event entering its third year in its new location, The Family Arena in St. Charles, the planning committee is operating like a well-oiled machine, continually tweaking elements towards the best event possible. 

Close to 300 volunteer shifts are needed to manage the event over Memorial Day weekend and every volunteer who is able is needed. 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 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

Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 7:30pm
Symphony In Your College: Washington University in St. Louis

Friday, April 22, 2016 at 7:00pm
Symphony Where You Worship: Messiah Lutheran Church

Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 7:00pm
St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus Community Concert at First Baptist Church of Chesterfield

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 7:00pm
On Stage at Powell: Cortango Orquesta!

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

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

SVA Board Meeting
Thu, Apr 14, 11:15am
Centene Center

Instrument Playground
Sun, Apr 17, 2pm
Powell Hall

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee Meeting
Tue, Apr 19, 4:30pm
Home of Jane and Kent McNeil

One & Done Bus Hosts
Fri, Apr 22, 8:45am
St. Louis County Library Headquarters

Coffee Concert
Fri, Apr 22, 10am
Powell Hall

New & Prospective Member Party
Mon, Apr 25, 6-8pm
Home of Yvonne and Jim Greenwood

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

Spring Membership Meeting
Fri, May 6, 11am-2pm
Algonquin Golf Club


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 3/31/16)