News & Notes - January 2017

From the SVA President

Happy New Year! It was wonderful to see so many of you at Winter Heat. What a great start to the year and a great way to reconnect after the holidays. I am grateful to the St. Louis Symphony, that offers Winter Heat to the SVA volunteers as a huge thank you for the work you do all year long. It was lovely and certainly made me feel appreciated.

The second half of the season is upon us and, with it, all of the programs that have been in planning during the fall. In addition to the many committees with regular assignments all year, Express the Music, Picture the Music and Gypsy Caravan will be moving into high gear for their March–May events. Citizen’s Day for the Arts is Wednesday, February 8, and the effort of as many of our volunteers as possible is needed to help ensure arts funding for the coming year. Additionally, STL Symphony Ambassador training will begin on January 17 and 19, with a goal of having each of our many volunteers attend this training within the year. Several people have written me about wanting to attend but needing a different sort of schedule. We will make sure to set a calendar of future training dates that can accommodate a variety of schedules.  Many of the programs above need additional volunteers during their peak activity periods, so please do read further and contact the chairs of any committee that sounds interesting to you.

The STL Symphony has kept up its news presence. Music Director David Robertson’s contract with the STL Symphony has been extended for another year, giving us another year of his remarkable musical leadership, warmth and wit. The upcoming tour to Spain will do much for the Symphony’s international reputation. At our December SVA board meeting, we were fortunate to hear Vice President of Operations Anna Kuwabara discuss some of the logistical planning going into a trip of this magnitude and we look forward to hearing more about the trip when they return. The article you received last month highlighting some of the community outreach done by the musicians and Director of Community Programs Maureen Byrne was poignant and inspiring. Next month will bring the Grammys on February 8, where we will learn whether “our” nominee wins. Plus, Marie-Hélène Bernard was named one of fifteen nominees for St. Louis Person of the Year. I’m not sure when results will be announced, but I cast my vote for her! One of the privileges of being the president of the SVA is inclusion on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee where much insight into the workings of and direction of the STL Symphony is shared. The STL Symphony is working with a consultant in order to develop a stronger and more engaged board that can take this organization where it plans to go. A series of small group discussions was held with board members in which the consultant stated that she felt that Marie-Hélène had made the types of leaps forward in one year that most CEO’s take four to five years to accomplish. We are volunteering for a great organization at an exciting time!

I hope that each of you has found your spot this year. If not, please contact the chair of any committee that sounds interesting to you and get involved. Regardless of the area in which you serve, find time over the next few months to attend Ambassador training. Let’s work together to help the STL Symphony’s efforts go further.


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


Winter Membership Meeting
Mark your calendars for our Winter Membership Meeting on Saturday, March 4, at The Saint Louis Woman's Club. Following a delicious brunch, members will be treated to a performance by LACE, a female vocal quartet featuring our own Carolyn Farrell, and music from The Great American Songbook. We will also hear about what goes into scheduling the season from Bret Dorhout, Vice President for Artistic Administration and, of course, we will be presenting the SVA president-elect. We hope to see you there!

Membership Directory
The 2016/2017 Membership Directory was distributed at Winter Heat on Thursday, January 5. Copies will also be available at the Boutique for those who were unable to attend. Member contact information is also listed in the online directory, accessible via the SVA page within the STL Symphony website. This online directory is password protected and never communicated via email in order to keep member information private. You may call Laura Dwyer or your committee chair for the password if you do not have it available. Please contact Susan Pribble, Directory Team Leader, with any changes to your information throughout the year at

SVA Webpage
Navigating to the SVA webpage can be a challenge given all of the information the STL Symphony needs to communicate. However, once you get the hang of it, the SVA webpage holds a host of information. To find the SVA page, go to At the red ribbon at the top of the home page, hover over “Support the Symphony” and then click on “Volunteer." This will take you to the SVA page where following a brief explanation of who we are and an invitation to join, you can scroll down to find KeyNotes, information about our programs, upcoming events, our membership directory, committee description,s and sign-up and hours forms, bylaws and the history of the organization. Along the right side of the page, you can click on archived copies of News & Notes. The webpage is a great place to keep up-to-date and you are encouraged to “click around” to your hearts’ content.

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.

One & Done
Throughout the holidays, One & Done volunteers were on hand to help make the STL Symphony extra special for families. In addition to acting as Santa’s helpers in the Foyer, ushering at the Piper Palm House and assembling materials for distribution, volunteers were also asked to greet arriving buses for Holiday Concerts, guide guests to their proper entries and help get guests back to their buses. Special thanks go to the following bus ambassadors, who braved the unexpectedly frigid weather to make sure that bus patrons had safe and stress-free arrivals and departures: Ron and Debbie Neustadt, Bob Thompson, Patti Bubash, Marlene Katz and Gerry Frankenfeld, as well as to Chair Elizabeth Crosby for recruiting and coordinating all of these volunteers is a very busy season.


Express the Music
Express the Music entries will soon begin arriving at the SVA offices to meet the entry deadline on January 20. Soon after, the committee will work quickly to screen, judge and organize the program toward presentation of the winners in conjunction with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert on Friday, March 3.

The committee is looking for additional readers on Saturday, January 28, to do a preliminary screening of the entries prior to sending them to the final judges, who will then select the top winners from the pool. Readers gather at the SVA office where they will be given screening instructions and a rubric against which to score entries. While scoring, readers will listen to this year’s musical inspiration, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, "Eroica." The reading session begins at 9:00am and will end by 3:00pm. The greater the number of readers, the shorter the reading session will be. Readers may come for the entire session or for just a couple of hours, whatever fits their schedule.  A light lunch will be provided. To volunteer as a reader, please contact Chair Cecilia Webber at or 314-524-7834.

Picture the Music
Picture the Music artwork will also be arriving soon, with an entry deadline of February 4. In an effort to make participation easier for more schools, and in recognition of the geographic scope of the program, artwork will be accepted at the SVA office on February 3, 3:00-6:00pm and February 4, 9:00am-1:00pm, as well as at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters and the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre on February 4, 9:00am-1:00pm. Additionally, the committee is offering return mail services for non-finalist artwork for $10 so that artwork drop-off and return is more convenient.  This year’s Picture the Music inspiration is the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Judging day, always a favorite for volunteers, will take place in the fourth floor ballroom at Centene on February 14, beginning at 8:30am and ending between 2:00 and 3:00pm. New volunteers are always welcome, particularly those with good knees to assist with laying down and picking up artwork during judging! Please contact Linda Seibert at or 314-991-9811 if interested.

Instrument Playground
The STL Symphony’s next Family Concert is scheduled for Sunday, January 22, and the Instrument Playground committee will be there to give families a hands-on encounter with the instruments prior to the concert. With throngs of children and adults in attendance, the instrument tables—and committee members—are busy. It is a great experience, but the committee would be able to reach even more families with more volunteers. If you play an instrument or simply would love to help children coax a sound from them, please contact Jim Dodds at or 314-991-0704 to be part of this team.

From Chair Margaret Gilleo
A friendly reminder for the New Year: Wednesday, February 8, is the annual Citizens' for the Arts Day at the Missouri Legislature. Once again, a group of STL Symphony supporters will travel to Jefferson City on a chartered bus provided by the Regional Arts Commission (RAC). An onsite briefing will be provided at the capitol, along with lunch. Thanks to the efforts of the STL Symphony staff, appointments will be made with state senators and representatives, and each advocate will receive a packet of information.

RAC will also offer an informative meeting on Friday, January 13 from 11:30am to 1:00pm at their office (6128 Delmar Blvd). This too comes with lunch, provided by the STL Symphony! Those who attend will have the opportunity to meet with area legislators and network with St. Louis arts leaders, hear the latest news at the state capitol by the Missouri Citizens for the Arts Legislative Consultant, learn important funding updates from the Missouri Arts Council and enhance their arts advocacy skills.

Our great orchestra, and indeed all the arts, are a vital part of St. Louis culture, education and history. Yet they do not thrive without the efforts of each individual and the support of our local, state and federal governments. The state of Missouri gives over $4 million in grants to arts organizations each year. The STL Symphony receives more than $200,000, a vital component of its annual revenue. 

One of the great privileges of living in a democratic society is having direct access to our elected officials, particularly those close to home. This is nowhere more apparent than on Citizens' for the Arts Day. It is important to let these legislators know how much we value their support of the arts and to request that they continue to do so. 

If you are not able to go to Jefferson City as an advocate on February 8, you can also help by volunteering at the SVA office to make phone calls and assemble packets. I don’t need to tell you how wonderful and dedicated our staff is. But they need help in order to make this day a success. Another option is to write, email or telephone your state elected officials.

Volunteering for the STL Symphony is a very rewarding activity. On Citizens' for the Arts Day, you’ll spend the day with fellow music lovers, have the opportunity to talk to your elected officials and enjoy a pleasant ride back with refreshments on the bus. Click here for more information.


New Ambassador Training
The first training sessions for the new STL Symphony Ambassador program will be offered on both January 17 and 19* from 4:00 to 5:00pm in the Whitaker Room at Powell Hall, led by STL Symphony staff. Training will cover a wide variety of areas with the goal to make volunteers more well-informed representatives for the orchestra both at Powell Hall and offsite, comfortable and able to answer any question—even when the answer needs to be a gracious, “I don’t know, but we will get back to you.”  STL Symphony Ambassadors will help extend the reach of STL Symphony staff throughout the area and at Powell Hall.

The first planned activity for the Ambassadors will be the Nine Network's Night at the Symphony broadcast watch parties at selected retirement homes, where many former subscribers and SVA members reside. These watch parties can help give these residents a shared audience experience and keep them feeling tied to a cherished community, even if they can longer attend concerts at Powell Hall. Other STL Symphony Ambassador occasions will be scheduled as the trained pool of volunteers grows and more opportunities are identified.

Additional Ambassador training will be offered in the future, with a goal of training all SVA volunteers by the beginning of next season, regardless of the area in which they serve. A more varied training calendar in terms of times of day and day of week will be offered so that training suits more volunteers’ schedules.

*Training is offered on two different days, but the training session itself is a single day. Members can choose which day meets their schedules.

Gypsy Caravan
The Gypsy Caravan Merchandise Vendor contracts will be available online beginning Wednesday, February 1. One additional challenge to revising this year’s contact began last year with new Department of Revenue requirements, which the committee felt dampened vendor applications. The SVA has always stated in our contract with vendors that it is their responsibility to file and pay taxes on merchandise sold at Gypsy Caravan. Accordingly, each year we sent a list of participating vendors to the Department of Revenue following the event. Last year, the Department required that we also obtain a list of all participating vendors’ Missouri Sales Tax License Numbers prior to the event. Several vendors who participate in Gypsy Caravan and similar events do not have such a number in advance and the government website is somewhat confusing and difficult to navigate. Gypsy Chair Ed Vega used his experience in accounting and systems to cut through the clutter in the government site and give a short clear explanation in the Merchandise Vendor contract about what is needed, how long it takes and any fees associated (it’s free for an event like this), so that the process doesn’t intimidate potential vendors and keep them away. There will also be a direct link to the government form needed so that potential new vendors can feel comfortable and confident moving forward.

Gypsy Caravan is always looking for new vendors in order to keep the event fresh and exciting. Giving new vendors this simplified access to these government application forms will make becoming a vendor easier.  If you are aware of vendors who might be a good fit for Gypsy Caravan, please forward the information to Ed Vega at

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 Meeting
Wed, Jan 11, 3:30pm
SVA Office

STL Symphony Ambassador Training
Tue, Jan 17, 4-5pm
Thu, Jan 19, 4-5pm
Whitaker Room

One & Done: Early Education Assistance
Wed, Jan 18, 4pm
Powell Hall

Powell Hall Tours: Early Education Tours
Wed, Jan 18, 5pm
Powell Hall

Bus Ambassadors: Coffee Concert
Fri, Jan 20, 8:30am
St. Louis County Library Headquarters

Coffee Concert
Fri, Jan 20, 10:30am
Powell Hall

Instrument Playground: Family Concert
Sun, Jan 22, 3pm
Powell Hall

Powell Hall Tours: Girl Scouts
Sun, Jan 22, 4pm
Powell Hall

Express the Music: Entry Prep
Mon, Jan 23, 8am
Thu, Jan 26, 11am
SVA Office

Express the Music: Reading Day
Sat, Jan 28, 9am-3pm
SVA Office

Express the Music: Post-Screening Prep
Jan 30-Feb 2, 9am-12pm
SVA Office

SVA Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Feb 1, 11am-2pm
SVA Office

Picture the Music: Entry Collection
Fri, Feb 3, 3-6pm
Sat, Feb 4, 9am-12pm
SVA Office and Offsite

Picture the Music: Cataloging
Feb 6 and 7, 9am-12pm
SVA Office

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee Meeting
Wed, Feb 8, 4:30-6pm
SVA Office

Free Community Events

Live Broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio 90.7 KWMU


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 16/17 season (as of 1/8/17)