News & Notes - August 2016

From the SVA President

Summer is speeding by! The Symphony Volunteer Association is deep in planning for the coming season, putting together a broad calendar, working on plans to flesh out and communicate current programs and laying the groundwork for programs yet to come. August will be a month of finalizing details before the season officially begins in September, with committees springing into action along with the orchestra.

If you have been traveling this summer—or simply been in a more relaxed summer mode—and have not had a chance to read the committee descriptions and send in your committee selections, you can learn more about all of the opportunities here, then download your committee selection form or click here to simply send in your selections online. We are trying to make committee sign ups easier for all. Please send in your forms by Monday, August 15, so we can give a complete committee roster to all of our chairs, enabling them to begin communicating with their committee members.

Another item that might have slipped by during the summer break is membership renewal. If you have not yet renewed your SVA membership with a donation of $75 or more to the St. Louis Symphony's 2016 Annual Campaign, please take this moment to renew now. We don’t want to lose you as a member with all of the plans in place and in progress! This is an exciting time for the STL Symphony and we want you to be a part of it.

I was excited to open my STL Symphony season ticket pacakge, which recently arrived. Next season looks even more exciting than the last! I encourage you to join me in sharing the concert season with others and inviting friends and family to attend what looks like a truly phenomenal season.

In addition to a fabulous upcoming 2016/2017 season, the STL Symphony has recently announced some wonderful news about the success of the 15/16 year.

By mid-July, the STL Symphony was at 98% of its $7.4 million financial goal, with August yet to go. The Steward Family Challenge was a great success, exceeding its $150,000 goal with more than $189,000 in new and increased gifts, adding many new donors in the process.   

With regard to attendance, at a time when performing arts organizations across the nation are witnessing shrinking audiences, the STL Symphony realized a 4% increase in ticket sales despite slightly fewer concerts and a couple of weather-related Education Concert cancellations! Importantly, the increases were seen in both  Classical and Live at Powell Hall series, the second year in a row the Classical season saw an increase in ticket sales. The 16/17 season will lead off with two incredibly strong programs, Live at Powell Powell with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™—In Concert, the weekend of September 9-11, and the Classical series' Opening Weekend with Spirit of St. Louis, September 16-17. 

Critically, the STL Symphony received many accolades as the external affairs department continued to make the public aware of the great work and performances being done by the organization.

I’m excited about this coming year! I look forward to seeing each of you as our committees begin their work for the year and hope to see you at our Fall Membership Meeting on Thursday, October 6. Please take a few moments to read further about what is going on in each area and spread the word about our orchestra and the SVA!


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

SVA Board Notes

We are delighted to welcome Ed Vega to the SVA board as chair of Gypsy Caravan! Ed is a new member of the SVA, joining in the 15/16 season, a recent retiree who brings with him a wealth of business experience that will be very well utilized in this position. Past President Becky Brown has accepted an appointment as bylaws chair for the coming year, undertaking a review of the bylaws and standing rules, which were last updated in 2012. Finally, Dotti Fischer has accepted an appointment as nominating chair, where her recent experience as membership chair will prove especially beneficial. 

The first SVA board meeting/retreat/training session will be held on Saturday, September 10, from 9:00am-noon at the SVA office. Board members, please mark your calendar for this important session.


Membership Renewal
This has been a transitional year for the SVA in terms of managing membership renewals, moving from a rolling renewal date to a single renewal date for members, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve moved forward. As a reminder, the SVA does not have membership dues. Rather, those donating to the STL Symphony's Annual Campaign at the $75 level or more may elect to join the SVA. Continuing as a member is dependent upon renewing your contribution each year to the Annual Campaign.

The Membership Committee has been working to update records along these new guidelines, requesting members to renew by June 30 in order to work with membership records over the summer. As of Thursday, September 1, any member who did not make a donation to the 2016 Annual Campaign will be removed from SVA membership and committee rolls, but will continue to receive News & Notes (this is a publication open to all who request to receive it). Those members who are current with their donation as of August 31 will be included in the 16/17 printed and online directories, 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 above donation 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.

Membership Meetings
Save the date for the Fall Membership Meeting to be held the evening of Thursday, October 6, at the beautiful and historic Missouri Athletic Club. In addition to a delicious meal, members will be treated to a wonderful performance by STL Symphony trombonist Jonathan Reycraft, and his wife and frequent substitute with the orchestra, violinist Laura Reycraft. David Nischwitz, Vice President of Marketing, will speak about the plans that led to the STL Symphony’s turnaround in ticket sales, bucking industry trends. The SVA Board and STL Symphony staff will also share some wonderful accomplishments and new initiatives with the membership. Of course, there will be plenty of time to enjoy great companionship of fellow members. More details will be forthcoming, but do place the date on your calendars in addition to the following: Winter Heat–cocktails and appetizers, Thursday, January 5; Winter Membership Meeting–brunch, Saturday, March 4; Spring Membership Meeting (Annual Meeting)–lunch, Friday, May 5.

Committee Signups
Have you returned your committee preferences for this year? Our committee chairs have begun contacting their committee members, with many holding kick-off meetings in the fall even when the program itself runs later in the season. We would like every member engaged in a meaningful way. Please let us know where you would like to volunteer for this coming year. 

If you have not done so already, please let us know which committees you’d like to take part in for the coming season. For your convenience, you can click here to go directly to an online committee sign-up form or download a document to send in via regular mail. There are many interesting volunteer opportunities available and we want to make sure you find your spot. If you are unsure or want to learn more, please review the list of committee descriptions. Committee chairs will soon be in contact.

Tech Team

The Tech Team has put together a comprehensive cloud-based SVA calendar, listing all committee meetings and program dates so that chairs can more easily plan out their seasons and communicate information to their committees. As a cloud-based calendar, it can be continually updated and read by all chairs, making sure that everyone has access to the most up-to-date information. Additionally, all committees have spent time this past year putting relevant records and processes into a format that can be uploaded into cloud-based files on the STL Symphony’s secure system, creating a thorough and accessible archive for future committee use and historical files. 

The tech team is looking for more people with strong computer skills to help meet the information and communication needs of the organization and our members. Please contact Kathy Borges at 314-469-7465 or if you would be interested in joining the team.


Education Kick-Off
The SVA and the STL Symphony staff have planned an Education Kick-Off in the Whitaker Room at Powell Hall on Wednesday, September 7, 10am-12pm, for all SVA volunteers, including those currently serving on education committees and those who simply want to find out more about them. The SVA and education staff have been working to more closely coordinate Picture the Music, Express the Music and Instrument Playground participation with the STL Symphony’s Education Concerts and other initiatives. In addition, Jessica Ingraham, Director of Education and Youth Orchestra, has asked for greater SVA assistance at several education events in the coming year to provide a better overall experience for attendees while allowing staff to focus on program details. All are invited to come to meet with education staff and hear about current programs and new ways to get involved in this important area while enjoying coffee and pastries. Tours will also be given so all of our volunteers can be better prepared to answer questions when volunteering at Powell Hall. Plan to join us for this wonderful kick-off to the new season!

Picture the Music
The Picture the Music Awards Ceremony has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 29, 2017, and the committee is hard at work revising the communication pieces, website and very importantly, teacher lists and key contacts. With all of the information available, demands on teacher attention and continually changing teaching staff, reaching the right people in a meaningful way is key to the program’s success.

The Picture the Music traveling art display will travel still further this coming year, adding an exhibit at Boeing headquarters. The Employees Community Fund of The Boeing Company has been the generous sponsor of Picture the Music and Express the Music for several years. This additional display venue will allow Boeing employees to experience the impact of their generosity. Every other year, Picture the Music partners with The Sheldon, whose gallery director selects 50 pieces from the Picture the Music program to display over the summer in the Sheldon Galleries, a very high honor for the children whose families can view their art in this beautiful, well-curated space.

Express the Music

Express the Music will see an exciting change this year, with the Express the Music Award Ceremony linked to the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra's concert on Friday, March 3, 2017! 

Like Picture the Music, Express the Music asks students to respond to a piece of music, this year the Largo from Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World." The Picture the Music program and ceremony are able to showcase the colorful, imaginative artwork of K-6 finalists within the program and in the lobby, enhancing the excitement of the award ceremony evening. As an essay and poetry competition for junior and high school students, Express the Music finalists have traditionally received a bound book containing all of the winning entries, preceded their ceremony with a tour of Powell Hall and for the top winners, monetary awards, but the committee felt there could be even more done to excite potential entrants and give the finalists a memorable experience. Additionally, with the increasing rehearsal and production requirements of the STL Symphony’s innovative programming, non-scheduled evenings are becoming harder to find. 

Presented with this challenge, Education VP Margaret Lahrmann and SVA member Vi Steinmeyer posed the question, “what about linking the ETM ceremony to a Youth Orchestra concert?" and a new connection was formed. ETM finalists and their families will still receive printed booklets, tours and awards, and now, invitations to the Youth Orchestra concert. Specific plans are still underway, but the goal is to celebrate their accomplishments in a meaningful way that ties youth programs together, giving Youth Orchestra attendees a better appreciation of other ways the STL Symphony impacts area students. The committee is excited about the way these two youth programs can work together and the SVA and education department look forward to increased integration of more programming.

Instrument Playground

The Instrument Playground committee will jump start its year with a kick-off event at 10:00am on Thursday, September 8, at the SVA office. Instrument Playground is scheduled to present at Powell Hall for the Family Concert on Sunday, October 30, and visits to several area schools in partnership with the Symphony in Your School program are in the planning stages.

Instrument Playground committee members share several qualities, including love of music, love of children, and boundless enthusiasm. In demonstrating and assisting children with creating sounds from orchestral instruments, they ignite young minds with the possibility of creating music themselves. Committee members enjoy the interaction with the children and with many members having a musical background, sometimes ratchet up the experience by taking the opportunity to play together as part of the program. The committee is always recruiting new members so the full range of instruments can be demonstrated at events and welcomes those with and without instrument experience. 

Youth Orchestra
Each fall, the education department holds an orientation session for Youth Orchestra members and looks to the SVA to assist as they shepherd the hundred or so talented young musicians through the procedures and facilities. This year, rather than a simple tour, Youth Orchestra members will take part in a scavenger hunt throughout the building to help familiarize them with their new “second home." On Saturday, September 17, SVA members will help with check-in, Youth Orchestra orientation and assist with the scavenger hunt, fun activities that give SVA volunteers the pleasure of interacting with these special young musicians.

Powell Hall Opportunities

Powell Hall Opportunities has been busy organizing for the coming season in support of the STL Symphony. The Boutique, Coffee Concert, Education Concert Ambassador and Tour committee chairs have been given their schedules and will be slotting volunteers as needed. While all Powell Hall Opportunities committees welcome new members, the Boutique is especially interested in training a few additional volunteers to be lead cashiers. Additionally, Education Concert Ambassadors could use a several more hardy souls to greet buses bringing young students to Education Concerts and to safely guide students into the building. All of these Powell Hall Opportunities offer the amazing experiences to act as welcoming hosts for the STL Symphony and have the added benefit of a free seat to associated concerts.


 of the Symphony
The Friends Committee will again meet after the close of the 2016 Annual Campaign, ending August 31, to thank donors for their part in helping to reach the STL Symphony’s financial goals. The STL Symphony’s budget is very dependent upon the generosity of individual donors, who contribute one-third of operating dollars. Tickets sales contribute another third with the remainder of funds coming from the STL Symphony’s endowment.

Members participating in the Thank-a-Thon will meet in the SVA office on Friday, September 22 at 9:30am for a little social time and call training by philanthropy staff before contacting Friends. Last year’s volunteers were pleasantly surprised at how pleasantly surprised the donors were to receive this personal level of appreciation, which made for a fun morning. This added level of appreciation, especially delivered by committed volunteers, goes a long way in strengthening ties with donors. 

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

Education Kick-off
Wed, Sep 7, 10am
Whitaker Room, Powell Hall

Executive Board Meeting

Wed, Sep 7, 10am
SVA Office

Instrument Playground Kick-Off

Thu, Sep 8, 10am
SVA Office

SVA Board Retreat/Meeting
Sat, Sep 10, 9am-12pm
SVA Office

Forest Park Concert
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

Friends Committee Thank-a-Thon

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


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