News & Notes - August 2017

From the President

It's midsummer, and 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 new programs. August will be a month of coordinating with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra staff and nailing down details before the season officially begins in September.

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 and mail it to the address at the bottom of the form. We are trying to make committee sign-ups easier for all and will soon provide online sign-up. Please send in your forms as soon as you can so our chairs can 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 $75 or more donation to the SLSO's Annual Campaign, please take this moment to renew now simply by clicking on this link: Donate Now. (It's a secure link.) We don’t want to lose you as a member, especially with all of the progress we’re making on some great plans for the year. This is an exciting time for the SLSO, and we want you to be a part of it!

This season marks the 50th anniversary of the orchestra's first concert at Powell Hall, and several special events are planned to celebrate. Also, this is David Robertson's final season as Music Director, so you won't want to miss any of the concerts and events that he's involved with! Watch your email for announcements throughout the season.

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 5. 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!

All the best,

Jeff Kaplan
St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association
c: 610-613-8527


SLSO Branding Update
Refreshing the brand to make the SLSO more accessible, diverse and vibrant, while honoring our symphonic heritage, is an important component of the SLSO’s Strategic Plan.

Last fall, an SLSO team (Adam Crane and David Nischwitz) worked with SLSO Trustee Susan Veidt and her colleagues at FleishmanHillard to explore branding language, imagery and the SLSO marquee as part of efforts to revitalize and evolve the brand.

Susan and Fleishman have been extraordinarily generous, doing this work pro bono and investing a lot of time, expertise and effort to guide the process. If you have the opportunity, please make sure to thank Susan for her tremendous contributions and John Saunders, CEO of Fleishman, for his support of this ongoing project.

While this process will unfold with changes over the next two years (coinciding with the arrival of our next Music Director, Stéphane Denève), evolutionary changes were made this summer:

  • In print, the name of the organization is referred to as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The return of “Orchestra” allows the institution to return to its shorthand of SLSO. (SLSO was still widely embraced by the public for its longstanding use prior to 2010.) Overwhelming positive feedback from the Board, orchestra patrons and staff to reintroduce “Orchestra” helped influence this decision.
  • The website returns to, and staff email addresses will follow suit.
  • The logo saw a slight variation, removing “Live at Powell Hall” in most iterations.
  • Over this past season, the institution adopted “The Musical Spirit of St. Louis” as a tag, and that will continue into future seasons.

Visual changes in the brand have been slowly taking place over the past two years to incorporate youthful and diverse audiences, a focus on our musicians and an overall warmth and accessibility. Additional changes will take place in 2018 with communications related to the 2018/2019 season and Stéphane Denève’s arrival as Music Director.

New Partnership: SLSO and St. Louis Blues
The SLSO and the St. Louis Blues have joined forces to give one St. Louisan the chance to perform the National Anthem at a Blues game next season. Auditions are open to soloists, vocal performing groups, instrumentalists and small instrumental groups of all ages. To be considered for one of 20 in-person audition slots, performers must submit an online entry at before midnight on Friday, August 11. Entries must include a link to a previous performance. Finalists will be invited to audition at Powell Hall to perform for a panel of judges (Blues anthem singer Charles Glenn, SLSO principal cellist Daniel Lee and SLSO Chorus director Amy Kaiser). The game at which the winner will perform will be announced at a later date. Bravo to Adam Crane (SLSO Senior Vice President of External Affairs and Strategic Initiatives) and Anthony Kiekow (SLSO Public Relations Manager) for making this happen, as well as to Jo Ann Taylor Kindle (President of Enterprise Holdings Foundation and a co-owner of the Blues) for facilitating this collaboration between the Blues and the orchestra.

Focus on Diversity and Inclusion
As a result of the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan, the SLSO is refocusing efforts on diversity and inclusion, assessing its current status and developing a deliberate plan to ensure that it embraces diversity and inclusion at all levels. Trustees Sherry Sissac and Donald Suggs are leading this effort through a newly formed Task Force.

Maureen Byrne (SLSO Director of Diversity and Community Affairs) has put together a list of guest artists and conductors appearing during the 2017/2018 season, noting each one’s country of origin. Interestingly, of the 45 classical guest artists and conductors, 35 are foreign born and originate from 20 different countries on five different continents.

SVA Notes

General Membership Information

Committee Selections
Have you returned your committee preferences for this year? Our committee chairs have begun contacting their committee members, with many having kick-off meetings this summer or fall—even when the program itself may not take place until later in the season. We would like every member to be engaged in a meaningful way. Please let us know where you would like to volunteer this coming year.

If you have not done so already, please download your committee selection form and mail it to the address as the bottom of the form. There are many interesting volunteer opportunities available, and we want to make sure you find your spot. If you’re unsure where you might volunteer or want to learn more, please review the list of committee descriptions.

Check Your Email Regularly
Please remember to check your email on a daily basis. That is our major source of regular communication, especially for acquiring volunteers and last-minute substitutes.

Group Activities
Please make plans to join us for the following group activities:

Metropolitan Opera in HD: Bellini's Norma
Saturday, October 7
(we will choose a movie theatre and meal venue, tbd)

Open Rehearsal with Beethoven, David Robertson and Amy Kaiser
Thursday, November 16
Laura (our perk source extraordinaire) received clearance to include the SVA in the corporate open rehearsal. It’s another chance for us to hear Amy with the chorus, this time rehearsing Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Amy has agreed to speak with the SVA exclusively in the Whitaker Room, after which we can head upstairs to serve as Ambassadors and enjoy the open rehearsal.

Washington University Great Artist Series | Katia and Marielle Labèque, pianos
Sunday, January 28, 7:00pm
560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave, St. Louis, MO 63130
Featuring music of Stravinsky, Debussy and Ravel
Special pre-concert talk and complimentary glass of wine for SVA!

SVA Board

The first SVA General Board meeting/training session will be held on Wednesday, September 13, from 11:15am to 1:30pm at Centene. A light lunch will be served, and we will review important process information, training material and committee activities. Board members, please mark your calendars for this important session.

Membership Committee
Liz Halpin, Vice President

The chairs, vice chairs and team leaders for the SVA’s Membership Committee met at  Centene on Saturday, July 22 to discuss goals and objectives for the coming year.

Education and Community Programs
Glenna Schindler, Vice President

The Education and Community Programs committees are quickly formalizing programs for the 2017/2018 year. Most of the committees have new chairs and vice-chairs, and they’re doing a fantastic job of learning their responsibilities.

The Education kickoff meeting will be Thursday, September 14 at Powell Hall. Come join us to learn how you can become part of our outreach to the community. All of the committees welcome your participation in their activities.

Express the Music/Picture Music
Express the Music and Picture the Music are already off to a running start planning their committees’ activities. We know March 2018—when the winners of Express the Music and Picture the Music are announced—will be here before we know it.

Instrument Playground
The first Instrument Playground event of the year will be Tuesday, August 22 at the Missouri Botanical Garden, as part of the SLSO's support for MOBOT's Member Tuesday Nights. The SLSO will have the opportunity to invite SVA members as well as participants in its various Education programs.

Powell Hall Opportunities
Youth Orchestra
During June, SVA Youth Orchestra committee members enjoyed assisting 175 young musicians with their final auditions for the 17/18 season of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra (YO). These young people were auditioning for fewer than 100 positions and were selected through blind auditions.

Committee members assisted Michael Gandlmayr (Youth Orchestra Manager) in coordinating the auditions. SVA members helped register the musicians and escorted them to and from the Green Room. Students ranged in age from 12 to 22 and came from throughout the Bi-State area and from as far as Columbia, MO and Cape Girardeau. More than 40 school districts were represented.

SVA members who assisted were impressed with the maturity, composure, friendliness and “polish” of these young musicians and considered it a joy to meet them. YO Music Director Gemma New was impressed with the preparation they demonstrated, indicating that the strongest players were best at intonation, sound and rhythm while at the same time forming their own interpretations of the audition pieces.

We’re looking forward to the first YO concert of the season (date to be determined). And, as in years past, the concerts are given at no charge. What a gift! Stay “tuned.”

Philanthropy and Stewardship
Kent McNeil, Vice President

Chairs and vice chairs of the five Philanthropy and Stewardship committees (Advocacy, Gypsy Caravan, Friends, Ambassadors, and Boutique) met on Wednesday, July 12 to begin planning and coordinating their activities and schedules for the coming year. (Committee members were grateful for Janice Seele’s excellent records, which have proved invaluable in helping the transition between last year’s and this year’s committees.)

Arts funding from the state is crucial to the SLSO and to many other arts organizations. The next Arts Advocacy Day in Missouri will be February 7, 2018. We are hoping to recruit new people and have a strong representation in Jefferson City.

On Wednesday, July 5, Susan Hoffman, incoming chair of the Friends Committee, met with outgoing chair Vi Steinmeyer and SVA Philanthropy and Stewardship Vice President Kent McNeil to help create a smooth transition for the 17/18 year.

The Ambassadors hosted six Watch Parties* in July:

Aberdeen Heights/Marjorie Smith
Bethesda Barclay House/Jamie Spencer and Anna Ahrens
Friendship Village (Chesterfield)/Sara and Darrel Fabick
Laclede Groves/Mark Mittleman and Christine Henry
Sunrise on Clayton/Marcia and Bill Whitson
The Willows at Brooking Park/Jeff Kaplan

The Gatesworth will soon be a new Watch Party site. (Note: There will be no Watch Party in August.) The Ambassadors will be helping at the Missouri Botanical Garden event in August and will also have a table at the SLSO’s annual Forest Park Concert on Wednesday, September 13.    

The Ambassador Committee (now 62 members strong!) encourages all SVA members to be trained as Ambassadors for the SLSO. (As part of the SVA mission statement, all SVA members are asked to increase community engagement and enrich people’s lives through the power of music.) The next training sessions are scheduled for Saturday, August 26 and Wednesday, August 30.

*Watch Parties, hosted by SVA Ambassadors, are held at retirement communities during monthly screenings of The Nine Network of Public Media’s airings of SLSO concerts.

In preparation for the upcoming season, the Boutique committee inventoried its merchandise on Monday, July 24. Rachel Sennett, SLSO Marketing Coordinator, assisted.

SVA Office Location and Directions

Centene Center for Arts and Education
3547 Olive St., Suite 370
St. Louis, MO 63103
SLSO Office Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm
Associate Director, Volunteer Programs, Office Hours: Mon-Thurs, 10:00am-3:00pm

Upcoming Events

SVA @ MOBOT Member Tuesday Night
Tue, Aug 22, 5-8pm
Missouri Botanical Garden

Ambassador Training
Sat, Aug 26, 9-10am
Wed, Aug 30, 4-5pm
SVA Office

SVA Board Meeting
Wed, Sep 13, 11:15am-1:30pm
SVA Office

Education Committee Kick-Off
Thu, Sep 14
Powell Hall

Fall Membership Meeting
Thu, Oct 5


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 16/17 season (as of 6/30/17)