News & Notes - September 2016

From the SVA President

Welcome to the new season! We're off to an amazing start with the St. Louis Symphony's concert tonight on Art Hill. I am looking forward to seeing thousands of St. Louisans attending, some of them being introduced to the STL Symphony for the first time. The New & Prospective members committee will have a table at the event, and One & Done volunteers will assist STL Symphony staff at an information table, helping to welcome others into the STL Symphony fold. Last weekend’s Live at Powell Hall kick-off, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™—In Concert, sold out four shows and points to another strong year. This weekend’s opening concert featuring The Flight of Lindbergh will provide another powerful launch to the classical season. Several of us were able to gather last week for Amy Kaiser’s fascinating presentation about The Flight of Lindbergh at the Missouri History Museum, a prelude to one of many innovative upcoming concerts.

More great news! The STL Symphony reached 103% of its Annual Campaign fundraising target of $7.4 million for FY2016, marking the third consecutive year the campaign goal has been exceeded! This represents the generosity of more than 5,300 donors, an 11% increase in participation vs. last year! As, if not more, importantly, operating revenues for the STL Symphony were positive for the first time in more than 15 years! This is big news and reflects years of effort in containing costs, reaching out to new audiences and supporters and creating exciting and innovative programming. You may have noticed some much-needed enhancements took place at Powell Hall this summer, made possible by strong financial results. Longer-term, the STL Symphony is planning many improvements in the way the concert experience is delivered, and the SVA will be a partner as plans evolve.

Before getting to purely SVA matters, I want to share with everyone my excitement about a couple of the new initiatives that tie into the recently adopted strategic plan.  The STL Symphony has launched a new Young Friends (ages 25-45) program offering a $99 “Pick Three” subscription from a set of six concerts that will have a social  event immediately preceding or following the concert. This is an excellent way to engage younger concertgoers and I encourage everyone to forward this information on to your grown children and their friends. You may have also heard about the collaboration taking place in February with the STL Symphony and Nelly, one of the country’s most popular and influential hip-hop artists and a St. Louis native and supporter. The concert sold out in less than a week! This pairing is generating lots of “buzz” and will have many new people in the St. Louis region, and elsewhere, looking to the STL Symphony for originality and excitement—and discovering the incredible foundation of STL Symphony along the way.

This year, I’ll be referencing the STL Symphony’s strategic plan as much as possible, as new direction and programs will be stemming from this document. Broadly, the STL Symphony Board of Trustees approved a plan in the spring that focuses on three areas: Artistic Excellence and Visibility, Audience and Community and Capacity Building. Please look in the special section of this newsletter to read more about what meeting the plan will look like. Everything done by the STL Symphony in the future, and by the SVA in support of the orchestra, will be viewed against how well it helps move the plan forward.

As we start the year, please place the following key membership dates on your calendars. Our meetings are filled with good friends, good food, fabulous performances, presentations of significant information by key staff members and, of course, updates on SVA direction and results. The variety of meeting times is meant to allow most members to find at least one (hopefully many more) meeting that fits with their schedules.

  • Thursday, October 6, 2016: Fall Membership Meeting (dinner)
  • Thursday, January 5, 2017: Winter Heat (cocktails and appetizers)
  • Saturday, March 4, 2017: Winter Membership Meeting (brunch)
  • Friday, May 5, 2017: Spring Membership Meeting (lunch)

The month of September is filled with kick-off meetings of our various committees, good opportunities for committee members to catch up, get to know one another prior to serving and learning—or reacquainting themselves with the project at hand. Upcoming SVA events are always listed in the right-hand column of this newsletter.  As always, please read the updates from various areas within the SVA and respond as you are able. Volunteer needs tend to congregate around key dates, especially Education Concerts, and more volunteers on hand helps smooth things for all.

I am looking forward to the start of the new season and to seeing all of you, both as volunteers and concertgoers!


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

STL Symphony Strategic Plan Outline

The Board of Trustees of the STL Symphony approved a strategic plan that focuses on three areas: Artistic Excellence and Visibility, Audience and Community and Capacity Building. A further breakdown below gives greater detail to each of these broad areas, along with the means of measuring progress toward the goals.

Artistic Excellence and Programming


  • Innovative Programming
  • Industry and audience recognition for innovation along with number of “first performances,
  • Online Media and Recording Presence
  • Number of quality recordings; impact of media outreach on audience growth (including broad demographics)
  • Strong Media Presence (Local, National, International)
  • Press coverage; buzz about the STL Symphony
  • Commissioning of New Works
  • Number, quality, and profile of commissions
  • Touring and Residencies in region, U.S. and Abroad
  • Reception of tour (artistic output); reputation as a touring orchestra and ambassador (media presence and reporting); demand for STL Symphony on tour (from presenters and artists)
  • Foster Emerging Talent and Continued Career Development
  • STL Symphony is an “orchestra destination” for musicians, conductors, and guest artists; how many careers it launches, perception of STL Symphony as an exciting platform for new/emerging talent

Audience and Community


  • Growth of Audience and improved patrons service and stewardship
  • Number of subscribers and single ticket buyers in all series; retention rate; conversion of single ticket buyers to subscribers; following among younger audience; increased giving as an outcome of better stewardship
  • Community Engagement programs that tie to audience development and access
  • Impact of outreach in the community (number of audience, depth of impact; who is being served; how the outreach feeds into audience development; STL Symphony providing a much needed service to community) 
  • Commitment to Education at All Levels
  • Are education programs transformational and creating audience for the future; how learning becomes a driver for growing STL Symphony audience from all ages

Capacity Building


  • Governance Structure that supports a highly participative and philanthropic board
  • Level of board giving and participation; board effectiveness in fundraising and networking
  • Progress in Updating Facilities and Infrastructure to Create 21st Century Patron Experience
  • A building plan is in place by the end of 2017; it can be financed and funded, and completed on time and on budget 
  • Sustainable Financial Strength
  • Balanced budget, no accumulated deficit; growing revenue from three sources: earned, contributed and endowment; ability to sustain all of the above

SVA Board Notes

The first SVA board meeting/retreat/training session of the season was held on Saturday, September 10. In addition to the usual board agenda, board members learned about many new procedures and protocols established to help make events and programs run more smoothly. We reviewed the new (for us) Office 365 file server that allows for cloud storage of important archives, files and “real time” SVA-wide calendar—geeky stuff, but vitally important in protecting files and helping all committees run more effectively in the future. For those who are less sure about their computer skills, Tech Team members have made themselves available to assist, with a goal that next year this transition will elicit nothing more than a yawn from all of those easily using the new system.


Membership Committee Selections
Committee chairs have been scheduling kick-off meetings and meet & greets. If you have not yet heard from the chair of your committee(s) about this year, please contact Membership Chair Liz Halpin. She can then contact the chair and update committee records, making sure that you are included in the committee(s) of your choice.

If you have not done so already, please click here to go directly to an online committee sign-up form or download a document to send in via regular mail. Committee chairs will soon be in touch.

Membership Renewals
As we have been communicating, only those members who are current with their Annual Campaign donation as of August 31, 2016, will be included in the 16/17 printed and online membership directories, be eligible to participate in committees and activities and receive invitations to special SVA events. Members who, for whatever reason, missed the donation deadline, can be reinstated as SVA members by making their $75 or more gift to the Annual Campaign. This will allow reinstated members to fully participate in SVA programs, events, and committees, as well as be listed in the online directory when regular updates are made.

Please contact Penny Bari, VP Membership, at 314-997-7658 or with any questions.

Fall Membership Meeting

The Fall Membership Meeting is set for the evening of Thursday, October 6, at the beautiful and historic Missouri Athletic Club (MAC), a great example of Renaissance Revival architecture listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007. The MAC boasts a secure, attended parking garage immediately behind the building for easy access. In addition to a gorgeous venue and delicious meal, members will be treated to a wonderful performance by STL Symphony trombonist Jonathan Reycraft, and his wife, violinist Laura Reycraft; and to presentations by David Nischwitz, Vice President of Marketing; Marie-Hélène Bernard, President & CEO; and John Easley, Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer, who are eager to share some wonderful accomplishments and new initiatives with the membership. 

The evening begins with a cash bar at 5:30pm, followed by dinner at 6:30 and program at 7:30. Reservations are $40 per person, including parking. If you have not yet purchased tickets for this event, please click here to make your reservation online. 

New & Prospective Members
The New & Prospective Members committee will be in force at this evening’s concert in Forest Park and members are encouraged to swing by the table at the top of Art Hill to introduce their friends to the SVA. 

A New & Prospective Member Party is planned for Monday, October 17, 6:00pm, at the home of SVA President Janice Seele. Anyone interested in joining the SVA is encouraged to come and members are urged to bring friends with them to learn about all the SVA has to offer.

The new member mentor program continues to grow with a meeting planned for Thursday, September 29, 10:00am, at the home of New & Prospective Chair Sara Fabick. Members interested in becoming mentors should contact Sara at

SVA Open Rehearsal
SVA members will be invited to a special open rehearsal with St. Louis Symphony Chorus Director Amy Kaiser on Monday, October 24, at 7:00pm, preceded by light refreshments and a discussion about the work in the Whitaker Room. Be sure to save the date!

The communications committee is looking for a couple of key team leaders to fill currently open positions: a Photography team leader, responsible for scheduling SVA photographers to capture moments at selected SVA events; and a team leader for Playbill, a writer who can, in 150 words per month, sum up a key aspect or program of the SVA, highlighting our programs for the community and encouraging interest by potential members. Anyone interested in either position should contact Communications Chair Anne Carman.

Tech Team

The Tech Team continues to work with board members to organize and protect important SVA archives and procedures. The team is looking for more people with strong computer skills, particularly in Office 365, to help meet the information and communication needs of the organization. Please contact Kathy Borges if you would be interested in joining the team.


Education Kick-Off
The SVA and the STL Symphony staff held an Education Kick-Off in the Whitaker Room at Powell Hall on Wednesday, September 7, for all interested SVA volunteers.  One of the key focuses of the STL Symphony's strategic plan is “Commitment to Education at All Levels." With this, Director of Education and Youth Orchestra Jessica Ingraham; Education and Youth Orchestra Programs Manager Michael Gandlmayr; and Education Programs Coordinator Laura Reinhert, along with Resident Conductor Gemma New, outlined education programs for the year and shared areas in which additional SVA assistance could be used.

Beyond current Education Program volunteers, Jessica expressed a great need for additional Education Concert Ambassadors to help safely guide arriving students into the building. Additionally, with many Education Program initiatives in the formative stages, Jessica has requested occasional assistance with computer research. The STL Symphony performs Education Concerts the mornings of October 18 and 19, November 1 and 2, February 21 and 22 and May 3.

New Volunteer Request
The SVA is looking for volunteers comfortable with doing online research, from looking up teacher contacts to sourcing items for potential projects, to hunting down articles and more. These computer sleuths can assist the SVA with our own plans and also lend a helping hand to staff members, some of who have already asked for SVA support researching specific topics. If you are interested in this type of volunteer opportunity, which can be done from the comfort of your own home with a hot cup of coffee in hand, please contact Janice Seele

Picture the Music/Express the Music
Picture the Music and Express the Music promotional postcards are scheduled to be mailed mid-September, giving teachers time to work the programs into their curriculum prior to entry deadlines. Over the summer, the committees put many hours into updating teacher contacts and revising the materials that direct teachers to the downloadable online entry catalogues. Promotion of these programs will also be coordinated with Education Concerts and schools already participating in the STL Symphony’s Education Programs.

Instrument Playground

Instrument Playground began its year with a kick-off event on Thursday, September 8, for the upcoming Family Concert on Sunday, October 30, and visits to several area schools in partnership with the Symphony In Your School program. Special thanks goes to Correne Murphy, who refurbished string instruments over the summer to make sure they are ready for a full year of hands-on demonstrations with enthusiastic children.

The program has grown and would like to expand further—which can happen with the addition of new volunteers to the Instrument Playground team! All volunteers with a love for music and interacting with children are invited to join this merry band, both those with and without instrument experience. Contact Jim Dodds to find out more.

Youth Orchestra
Youth Orchestra volunteers will assist with helping familiarize Youth Orchestra members with their “second home” at Powell Hall. On Saturday, September 17, SVA members will help with Youth Orchestra orientation check-in and assist with the scavenger hunt, fun activities that give SVA volunteers the pleasure of interacting with these special youth.

Powell Hall Opportunities

Powell Hall Opportunities is already at work, with the first Boutique shifts taking place last weekend during Live at Powell Hall performances. As mentioned under Education Kick-Off, the need for Powell Hall Opportunities volunteers tends to congregate around specific concerts, when a host of volunteers are needed to interact with guests, both students and adults. Every Powell Hall Opportunities volunteer, in every capacity, acts as a welcoming ambassador for guests, helping to enhance the guest experience while receiving many smiles and warm personal exchanges in return. Currently, the SVA has a particular need for additional Boutique lead cashiers and Education Concert Ambassadors. Contact Ellen Brommelhorst regarding your interest in Boutique or Marilyn Gordon regarding Education Concert Ambassadors.


 of the Symphony
On Thursday, September 22, at 9:30am, Friends Committee members will enjoy a pleasant morning in the SVA office thanking recent Friends level donors for their contributions toward exceeding the FY16 Annual Campaign goal. Marianne Franz, Associate Director, Annual Giving, will provide training prior to the calls. This personal level of appreciation by committed volunteers has been shown to be very effective stewardship and the philanthropy department is grateful for this SVA support.

Gypsy Caravan
Volunteers who worked multiple shifts at Gypsy Caravan will soon be receiving an invitation to the STL Symphony's concert on Saturday, October 29, Brahms Reimagined, along with an invitation to a special pre-concert reception at Centene. This special invitation is in recognition of the many hours of physical work that so many volunteers contributed to the event, and offered in the spirit of “work hard, play hard." For the hard-working Gypsy crew, it’s time to play.

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

Forest Park Concert
One & Done and New & Prospective
Wed, Sep 14, 7pm
Art Hill

A Symphony Prelude
Thu, Sep 15, 6pm
The Ritz-Carlton

Opening Weekend: Spirit of St. Louis
Sep 16-17, 8pm
Powell Hall

Youth Orchestra Orientation
Sat, Sep 17, 11am
Powell Hall

Board/Staff Thank You Reception
Thu, Sep 22, 4-6pm
Centene Center, 4th Floor

Friends Committee Thank-a-Thon

Fri, Sep 22, 9:30-11:30am
SVA Office

New Member Mentors Meeting
Thu, Sep 29, 10am
Home of Sara Fabick

SVA Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Oct 5, 10am
SVA Office

Fall Membership Meeting
Thu, Oct 6, 5:30pm
Missouri Athletic Club (Downtown)

Coffee Concert
Fri, Oct 7, 10am
Powell Hall

One & Done Shuttle Hosts
Fri, Oct 7, 8:30am
St. Louis County Library Headquarters

Education Concert Ambassadors Meet & Greet
Tue, Oct 11, 10am
Met Bar, Powell Hall


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2015/16 season (as of 8/31/16)