News & Notes - November 2016

From the SVA President

October presented a whirlwind of activity for virtually all of our committees. November will offer a bit of a breather for most before launching into a full and exciting holiday season, with many volunteer opportunities available to support the St. Louis Symphony in making the holidays magical for adults and children alike. For many, this holiday visit to the STL Symphony at Powell Hall will be a first, an enduring memory and, hopefully, the beginning of a life-long love of live classical music. We at the Symphony Volunteer Association will have the honor of being part of this memory for hundreds of families by supporting the STL Symphony, helping to create a welcoming environment during a wide variety of holiday events.

This season, Powell Hall is shining brighter than it has in quite a while, the result of some needed sprucing up. Powell Hall always dazzles and now can do so more vibrantly. And this vibrancy is reflected in the heart of the STL Symphony itself.   

St. Louis Magazine just published its "Power List: 100 People Who are Shaping St. Louis." Among the 100 people noted were Marie-Hélène Bernard and David Robertson. Marie-Hélène was listed under “Thinkers - The New Guard: Newcomers in Key Positions,” with the orchestra's upcoming Spain tour mentioned as an example of progress that has been made. David Robertson’s category was “Tastemakers,” with the magazine noting, “The least stuffy conductor imaginable, Robertson has enough wit and ease to jolly first-time symphony-goers through Wagner, and he’s catholic enough in his musical tastes to conduct Nelly’s music in Powell Hall’s neoclassical surround. Robertson regularly leaves that splendor: You’ll find him wiping sweat from his brow on Art Hill, one of the traditions he’s created to grant free access to all. Season ticket holders might grumble at the lowbrow incursions, but they can’t begrudge their beloved symphony its growing reach.” Several STL Symphony board members were also listed among the 100 who are shaping St. Louis. Each brings tremendous passion and experience to the Board of Trustees.

STL Symphony management is working with an outstanding group of people to continue to move this orchestra forward as a vital cultural force for the city as a whole. We are fortunate to be working with this great team to help reach out and present this jewel of an orchestra in the best light possible.


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

SVA Board Notes

Board Tech Training
One of the many topics presented at the SVA board meeting and training session in September was that of technical training; however, with a very full agenda, technical items received just a quick overview and board members were encouraged to go online to get a feel for the systems before additional training was given. Now that board members have had a chance to work with the systems (hint: now is the time to start if you haven’t done so already) additional tech training is planned for Friday, November 18, at 10:00am in the SVA office. The training session will cover the STL Symphony website, setting up personal files, hard drives and email, accessing the Office 365 logon for One Drive, and the Excel hours spreadsheet. Non-board members who would like to learn more about our own website are also welcome to attend. If you have a laptop available, please bring it with you. RSVP for the training session with Tech Team Leader Kathy Borges.

General Board Meeting
The next SVA general board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 15, at 11:30am, preceded by 15 minutes of social time, during which a light lunch will be served. Please place this date on your calendar. If you have any questions or topics for clarification/discussion, submit them to Janice Seele prior to the meeting.


Membership Directory
The 2016/2017 Membership Directory is in production with a goal of distribution of printed copies at Winter Heat on January 5. Susan Pribble, Directory Team Leader, will soon be reaching out to members about their listing preferences. Please take a look at your listing in the most current printed directory and/or the online directory to make sure it reflects your contact information as you would like. Let Susan know of any changes needed at The online directory is password protected and never communicated via email in order to keep member information private. Please call Laura Dwyer, or your committee chair, to share the password with you if you do not have it available.

Many of you volunteer in positions where your SVA nametag is very important. If you have lost yours and would like another, please send a note to Laura Dwyer asking for a replacement nametag. Nametags are $10, payable with a check made out to the SVA, with "nametag" in the memo line, and mailed to Laura at Powell Hall. She will make it available for easy pick up before your next volunteer shift at the guard desk (Delmar side of Powell Hall). Note: Nametags take two weeks to produce.

New Members
We were pleased to welcome two new members in October, Rivi Meltzer and John Summey. Please be sure to give them a warm welcome!

Winter Heat
Mark your calendar for Thursday, January 5, from 5:00-8:00pm, for Winter Heat, the annual cocktail reception presented as a thank you to the SVA by the STL Symphony staff and held in the foyer of Powell Hall. The food is always delicious and this season’s program looks terrific, featuring a performance by harpist Allegra Lilly and a presentation by Adam Crane, VP for External Affairs. This event is always popular and presents a great opportunity to catch up with friends.

Open Choral Rehearsal and Reception
On Tuesday, October 25, more than 40 SVA members and their guests enjoyed a discussion by Amy Kaiser in the Whitaker Room prior to an SVA-only Open Rehearsal. Rarely are choral rehearsals open to audiences and Amy’s pre-rehearsal discussion made this rare treat even more special. Amy’s incredible talent as a choral director is matched by her insightful discussions and the group was transfixed by both Amy’s pre-rehearsal talk and the rehearsal itself. As one member said, the evening ”hit all the right notes!" The piece rehearsed on October 25, Mozart’s Requiem, will be performed on November 18, 19 and 20. Those who were able to attend the October discussion will have an extraordinary appreciation for this remarkable work.

One & Done
One & Done had a busy October, completing assignments for a wide variety of tasks, ranging from ushering at the Piper Palm House, to putting together mailings, to assisting with Education programs. While November looks to calm down a bit, December will bring a huge number of One & Done opportunities in support of holiday programs. Staff requesting assistance have a new form to complete prior to One & Done requests going out, resulting in much more complete descriptions of the task at hand, and a fuller sense of the experience that volunteers will have. Get ready to respond to an upcoming One & Done request and have a very satisfying time.


Instrument Playground
The Instrument Playground team began its season in support of the Family Concert on Sunday, October 30. The group encouraged the children attending the concert to touch and try their hand at producing sounds from instruments available on the landing of the grand staircase, lending good-natured assistance to all.

November brings the program into elementary schools through Symphony In Your School. Symphony In Your School is a six-week program in which students engage in interactive lessons and music-making experiences with the STL Symphony Education team and STL Symphony musicians. Students listen to and respond to music, learn about instruments and musicians and attend a Young People's Concert at Powell Hall where they can see and hear the musicians with whom they have developed relationships at their schools. The goal of the program is to develop an appreciation for classical music, live performance and perhaps a future musician or two. Instrument Playground presents a key interactive component of the program, allowing the students to experience the joy and wonder of creating sounds through a variety of instruments. The enthusiasm of the Instrument Playground team ensures that the students’ experience with the instruments is encouraging and positive. Symphony In Your School will be presented at six elementary schools this season. Interested schools can apply to participate for the coming year beginning in January.

Picture the Music/Express the Music
Picture the Music and Express the Music are both in that quiet period between planning, preparing materials and distributing information to teachers and the entry intake phase that begins in late January. This year, the Picture the Music committee took advantage of the occasion to promote the program at the Education Concerts, handing out informational postcards to teachers bringing their classes to Powell Hall, many of whom were unaware of these additional education programs. The increasing collaboration between the SVA and Education team is unveiling many opportunities to cross-promote and increase the effectiveness and reach of these long-standing SVA programs to the benefit of area students.

Education Concert Ambassadors
There has been an increased emphasis on the need for additional Education Concert Ambassadors, helping to ensure smooth and safe transitions from buses to Powell Hall and back to the buses. We know that the concert experience will be wonderful, and need the entry and departure to be equally top caliber to ensure that the overall take-away is extremely positive; just think about how a vacation can be positively or negatively influenced by the airline experience to and from a dream-worthy destination. These efforts are paying off in terms of increased teacher satisfaction, as evidenced by the following letter from a teacher attending the October Education Concert with her students.

“Dear Symphony Youth / Education Staff,
I want to thank you so very much for the effort you've given to improving the Education Concert experience. We attended the 11am performance of Symphonic Seasons this past Wednesday, October 19th—and WOW—what a wonderful difference from last year's experience! Despite the rain, things flowed very smoothly from start to finish—which I know did not happen by accident.

The things that jumped out most noticeably were:
1. The friendliness of the ushers was exactly what one would expect from an organization of this caliber. We encountered many smiles, hello's and welcomes—which was awesome. Thank you for addressing this, and thank you to your ushers for having a positive impact on our experience.
2.  Bus maps were given to adults before the program ended, which was awesome. That's never happened. Great idea.
3. There was lots of staff outside to assist during the exit; that's never happened. Loved it!
4. Bus aisles were marked with labeled cones, which also have never happened. Good thinking!”

Thank you to Marilyn Gordon and the intrepid team (who inevitably had to deal with a few rain showers) for helping to create this great experience! Others who might want to take part in this program should contact Marilyn at The next series of Education Concerts will take place in late February.

Just in time for the holidays, the Boutique is receiving new gift items to offer, including several for children. Educational placemats teaching about music and instruments have proven popular with concert patrons. Soon to come are a soft teddy bear and a striking necklace created with piano wire. Marketing Coordinator Rachel Sennett is looking to source additional items to create an interesting product mix at the Boutique. Be sure to stop by.

Youth Orchestra
The first Youth Orchestra concert of the season is scheduled for this Friday, November 11, at 7:00pm. Tickets are free with a $1 processing fee through the box office.

Why Advocate for the Arts? From Chair Margaret Gilleo
On a recent trip to Portugal, I came across a perfect Grecian urn in the Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum. It immediately brought to mind John Keats’ immortal words:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

The arts are a vital component of education and an important part of our history and culture. But an overarching facet is the sheer beauty they bring to our lives. That feeling of being overwhelmed by beauty, that “oh wow” moment. How often have we been rendered speechless in the presence of a great work of art or moved to tears? How often have we been unable to put such an experience into words?

Picking up a newspaper or turning on the evening news can seem like a trigger point for a state of acute depression. The horror that we see can destroy our faith in humanity. It is here that the beauty of art, whether it be a work of great music, a phenomenal painting, a magnificent example of architecture, or a literary masterpiece, can refresh our very souls and remind us that humanity is capable of reaching sublime heights instead of being mired in horror.

I am reminded of our arts advocacy efforts and why they are so essential. It is critical to let our legislators know how much we appreciate their support of the arts and to request that they continue to do so. It is also important to have a conversation with those who have not been supportive and to ask them to consider doing so. Please join us for Arts Advocacy Day in Jefferson City on February 8, 2017. It’s rewarding - and besides, it’s fun.


Whole Foods 5% Day
Whole Foods Markets’ 5% Day resulted in a whole lot of sponsorship dollars in support of the STL Symphony Youth Orchestra, the grand total will be announced soon. Once a quarter, Whole Foods generously selects a nonprofit to receive 5% of sales from all three St. Louis area stores; the YO was the beneficiary of the October 25 event. SVA and YO parent volunteers staffed tables at each locationCentral West End, Brentwood and Town and Countryand promoted the Youth Orchestra and other STL Symphony programs. Volunteers were able to share their love for the STL Symphony, and proud YO parents shared both their enthusiasm and the occasional picture of their talented offspring! Volunteer participation is a key component of this Whole Foods Markets sponsorship model and the involvement of the SVA was vital. With plenty of advance promotion by the STL Symphony, volunteers were able to greet plenty of STL Symphony champions, musicians and staff who came to do their shopping in support of the programand head home with some tasty dinner options.

Gypsy Caravan
Dozens of Gypsy Caravan volunteers who contributed two or more shifts to the Memorial Day weekend event enjoyed a reception and concert together on Saturday, October 29. The reception was held in the fourth floor atrium of the Centene building and the Gypsy theme was carried into the Bohemian-influenced décor. From there, guests traveled to Powell Hall to enjoy the Brahms Remagined concert, sitting together as a group. It was a lovely way for the STL Symphony to recognize the efforts of these volunteers who worked long and hard over a warm, and often hot, weekend to make Gypsy Caravan successful.

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
Wed, Nov 9, 4:30pm
SVA Office

Instrument Playground
Fri, Nov 11, 2pm
Rogers Elementary School

Coffee Concert
Fri, Nov 11, 10am
Powell Hall

One & Done: Shuttle Hosts
Fri, Nov 11, 8:30am
St. Louis County Library Headquarters

Powell Hall Tours: Subscriber Appreciation Day
Sat, Nov 12, 9am
Powell Hall

SVA Board Tech Training Session
Fri, Nov 18, 10am
SVA Office

One & Done: Holiday Card Mailing
Tue, Nov 29, 1pm
Powell Hall

SVA Executive Committee
Wed, Dec 7, 11am
SVA Office

Free Community Events

Live Broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 2016/17 season (as of 11/7/16)