News & Notes - May 2016

From the SVA President

It seems almost impossible that we are already nearing the end of the 2015/2016 Symphony Volunteer Association season, with most of our major programs completed for the year except for reviews and wrap-ups.

Yet the Big Kahuna—Gypsy Caravan—is still ahead of us and it promises to run more smoothly and more well-organized than ever, at least as smoothly as an event welcoming thousands and thousands of people to a one-day event at an off-site location can be. The event needs the involvement of every member and many of our members’ friends and families as well. I am delighted to announce that volunteers who work two or more shifts during Gypsy Caravan weekend, or family units who work two or more between them, will receive tickets for two to attend the Brahms Reimagined concert on Saturday, October 29, featuring the music of Brahms, Liszt and Mozart and a celebratory reception in the Centene ballroom prior to the concert! This is a great way for us to thank our volunteers, recruit new volunteers—especially those outside the SVA—and perhaps introduce new people to the STL Symphony. 

Very soon, you will receive your SVA renewal letter. For our own record-keeping, I am thrilled all of our members will now be on the same schedule so we can keep on track and serve our members better. Your renewed gift to the Annual Campaign of $75 or more is due by Thursday, June 30, which coincides with end of The Steward Family Challenge. David and Thelma Steward have generously pledged $150,000 to establish this challenge in which your new or increased gift of $75 or more to the STL Symphony’s 2016 Annual Campaign will be matched—dollar for dollar—through June 30 up to $150,000. Plus, SVA members who increase their donation vs. last year will receive a special SVA tote bag and, as many of you saw at the Spring Membership Meeting, they are roomy and attractive.

These next few months will involve a lot of program and procedure review as we plan for the 2016/17 season. I am grateful to the wonderful board and members who so generously give their time toward our programs.


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

SVA Board News

The SVA was pleased to vote in the following slate of new officers at the Spring Membership Meeting on Friday, May 6:
Chair, One and Done – Elizabeth Crosby
Vice Chair, Picture the Music – Bev Cox
Vice Chair, Gypsy Caravan – John Carr
Chair, Instrument Playground – Jim Dodds
Vice Chair, Instrument Playground – Jeff Kaplan
Chair, Advocacy – Margaret Gilleo
Chair, Regular Membership – Liz Cox Halpin
Vice Chair, Regular Membership – Rebecca Gorski
Vice Chair, Express the Music – Evelyn Meyer

The Nominating Committee, chaired by Carolyn Farrell, carefully considered the needs of each open position and recruited extremely well-qualified and enthusiastic people to fill them. Notably, two of these positions were filled by new members Margaret Gilleo and Evelyn Meyer, who bring a wealth of experience to their roles. Anyone interested in taking on a leadership position is encouraged to let the Board know, regardless of length of membership, as interest, experience and skill set are more important.

Per SVA bylaws, the Nominating Committee is composed of a chair and a representative from Fundraising, Membership, Education and the Executive Committee, along with two from the general membership. Each Nominating Committee member serves for non-consecutive, one-year terms only. This year’s committee consisted of Penny Bari, Becky Brown, Sara Fabick, Carolyn Farrell, Jeff Kaplan, Susanne Mertens and Sharon Ward who brought great dedication and insight to their roles. Thanks go to the Nominating Committee and to this strong slate of new officers for their expertise, commitment and dedication.


New & Prospective Members
On Monday, April 25, at the lovely home of Yvonne and Jim Greenwood, eight new SVA members from the class of 2015/16 and 11 prospective members had an opportunity to meet and mingle with 15 current Executive and Membership Committee members at the New & Prospective Member Event. In addition to lively socializing, guests learned about the SVA and how they might best find their spots within it. As an added treat, guests listened to a gorgeous performance by Laura Dwyer, flute; Maggie Hummell, cello; and Michael Gandlmeyer, violin; of one of Haydn’s London Trios. New & Prospective Committee Vice Chair Terri Ciccolello also filled everyone in on the mentor program that ensures each new member will have a guide to help them navigate the SVA and an especially friendly face to greet them personally at meetings.

Since the beginning of September, the SVA has welcomed in 50 new members and made special effort to connect with those joining in the 2014/15 season, a year of transition for the organization. 

This month, we welcome new members Susan Bainter and Willard Mosely. Susan credits her love of classical music to long-time SVA member—and Susan’s former teacher—Helen Gillespie. Willard is joining along with his wife, LeVerne Riebold Mosely, a recent new member. We look forward to seeing where the enthusiasm of these new members takes them.

Membership Renewal
As we began discussing in October, we have changed our SVA renewal timing to be consistent with our SVA planning calendar. Your gift of $75 or more to the STL Symphony's 2016 Annual Campaign by June 30 will renew your SVA membership for the coming year—and this timing will allow us to put our membership records, committees and directory in order to start our 2016/17 SVA year off and running!

The 2016 Annual Campaign supports one-third of the orchestra’s budget and the participation of all SVA members in this effort is very important. We are excited to share that David and Thelma Steward have generously pledged $150,000 to establish The Steward Family Challenge! Through this challenge, your new or increased gift of $75 or more to the STL Symphony’s 2016 Annual Campaign will be matched—dollar for dollar—through June 30 up to $150,000.

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. As an added perk this year, SVA members who increase their donation vs. last year will receive a special SVA tote bag! Our member donations can help the STL Symphony meet its financial goals and position itself for ongoing success.

Spring Membership Meeting
The Spring Membership Meeting took place on Friday, May 6, at the Algonquin Golf Club. Around a full business meeting, members had time to socialize, lunch and enjoy a magnificent performance by Principal Clarinet Scott Andrews and his wife, pianist Nina Ferrigno, who showed that they play beautifully together in all aspects of life. Prior to lunch, Marie-Hélène Bernard shared her thoughts about her first year with the STL Symphony and gave a brief overview of the strategic plan recently approved by the Board of Trustees. Janice Seele brought the membership up-to-date on where the organization stands vs. its goals for the year and area VPs gave updates. Members were also asked to complete and return committee preferences for the 2016/17 year. Also important, the membership approved the slate of officers presented to fill open positions for the coming season.

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 review the list of committee descriptions and complete a sign-up form to let us know where you’d like to serve in the coming year, if you have not done so already.


Instrument Playground
Instrument Playground has finished its activities for the year, with 12 events reaching more than 1,300 children. IP took its show “on the road” to five elementary schools across the area and to two events at the Public Media Commons, and back home again for four Family Concerts and one Tiny Tunes concert. The level of enthusiasm shown by the children receiving hands-on experiences with the instruments was perhaps equaled by the enthusiasm of the committee itself. The team members have a wide range of instrumental experience they are able to share with the children. Yet, the most important trait of an IP committee member is a passion for sharing the love of music with children. While a musical background is a plus, all SVA members are encouraged to “join the band” as there are many activities involved with the program. More than 30 SVA members take part in IP, but with the number of events and number of children at each, the committee welcomes additional members for the coming year. Jeff Kaplan was a joyful and fearless leader for the group this year. Current Vice Chair, Jim Dodds, will take over as chair next season and keep the excitement going. Those interested in joining the Instrument Playground Committee should email

Picture the Music
While the Picture the Music Awards Ceremony took place in early March, the committee has been at work all spring making sure the students' beautiful artwork was made available across St. Louis and St. Charles counties. The Picture the Music traveling artwork display finally returned to the SVA office at the end of April. The pieces were removed from their frames and returned to teachers before the end of the school year to be given back to the children, who are eager to have their winning artwork displayed in their own homes. 

The display venues included Powell Hall, Plaza Frontenac, The St. Peters Cultural Center, the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library and The Magic House. Each move entailed removing all 100 pieces of art and the accompanying signs from the display boards and boxing them, taking down the display boards, transporting them and setting everything back up in the new location, each of which required a slightly different setup given venue constraints and lighting. The display team is committed to making sure the art is accessible across the metro area and loves that each move causes them to see the artwork differently, literally in a different light at each locale. Thanks go to Linda Seibert and her committee for a wonderful handling of the entire PTM process.


Gypsy Caravan
The SVA’s largest and longest-running fundraiser is only a few short weeks away and we need YOU to help make this Brigadoon of wildly diverse vendors and enthusiastic shoppers happen.

Close to 300 volunteer shifts are required to manage the 44th Annual Gypsy Caravan over Memorial Day weekend and every volunteer who is able is needed. In recognition and appreciation of the number of hours and volunteers required—including the friends and relatives of SVA members—this year, individuals and/or family units volunteering for two or more shifts (i.e. one person staffing two shifts or a couple staffing one shift together) during the weekend of the event will receive two tickets to attend the Brahms Reimagined concert at Powell Hall on Saturday, October 29, featuring the music of Brahms, Liszt and Mozart. Prior to the concert all Gypsy volunteers will be invited to attend a reception in the Centene ballroom, a huge thank you to the many people it takes to orchestrate Gypsy Caravan. 

Members are encouraged to invite friends and relatives to volunteer and take part in these festivities. As always, all volunteers receive wristbands giving them free entry to the entire event. Many youth organizations are on the lookout for volunteer opportunities for their members. This is one that can do more than offer community service hours, it offers a phenomenal musical experience.

The event will be held again at The Family Arena in St. Charles, with hundreds of indoor and outdoor booth spaces and vendors. The committee continues to smooth out the logistics of moving thousands of people into and out of the event. This year, flow will be further improved with more and better-scheduled shuttles and the addition of the Edward Jones headquarters parking lot to its off-site parking options. Shuttle time to and from Edward Jones is half that to and from Maryville and will greatly reduce transit time for those parking on the St. Louis side of the river.

Since its inception, Gypsy Caravan has raised over $3.8 million for the STL Symphony and its community and education programs.

To view volunteer shifts and positions available and sign up for the specific spots that best fit your schedule and interests, click here.

Four Seasons of Fashion
One of the goals of the STL Symphony's philanthropy department, through which the SVA reports, is to expand the audience and supporter base, in addition to raising funds. The Four Seasons of Fashion did just that—beautifully. Roughly half of the evening’s guests were not in the STL Symphony's database as either ticket buyers or donors.  Brought in by the exquisite fashions, these new faces were first dazzled by the glamour of Powell Hall and then awed by the power a live performance of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons—a brilliant selection, familiar and accessible to those who typically do not seek out symphonic music. Four Seasons of Fashion guests will be encouraged to return for the classical season.

Financially, the evening was also stunning. Anticipating slower builds and higher expenses for new events, the fundraiser was originally planned to be more about audience development than net proceeds, budgeted to produce roughly $25,000 in net revenue. These estimates swiftly escalated with the early and enthusiastic response. In the end, Four Seasons of Fashion generated more than $136,000 in gross revenues and more than $93,000 in net proceeds toward music education and community programs.

While certainly not without first-year challenges and opportunities, the event presented a model for collaborating with non-traditional symphony audiences toward expanding reach and support for the future.

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

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

Sunday, May 29, 2016 at 3:00pm
SymphonyCares: New Mt. Sinai

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

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee
Tue, May 17, 4:30pm
Home of Kent and Jane McNeil

Gypsy Caravan Setup
Sun, May 29, 7am-7:30pm
The Family Arena

Gypsy Caravan
Mon, May 30, 7am-5pm
The Family Arena

Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Jun 1, 10am
Home of Janice Seele

SVA Board Meeting
Thu, Jun 9, 11:15am
SVA Office

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee BBQ
Fri, Jun 10, 6pm
Home of Kent and Jane McNeil


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 4/30/16)