News & Notes - March 2017

From the SVA President

So much happens in a month that, by the time I’ve begun writing my letter for this month’s edition of News & Notes, I have to go back to my calendar to remember what I was bound and determined to share just after the last month was published!

It was my great pleasure to announce Jeff Kaplan as the president-elect at the Winter Membership Meeting! All of us will benefit from his boundless passion for the St. Louis Symphony and his ability to engender that same passion in others.

I’m excited about the offerings just announced for the 2017/2018 season, the 50th season at Powell Hall—so many great choices! As you plan your own concert schedules, please share the season brochure with friends and invite them to join you.  Click here for information about the Young Friends program for you to share with your children and grandchildren. The STL Symphony continues to create exciting programs to draw in new audiences. As ambassadors of the STL Symphony, our personal outreach to others is vital.

I’m very proud to be part of the STL Symphony family. The programming in February alone showed the incredible range and flexibility of the STL Symphony, starting with the concert with Nelly, moving right on to the tour of Spain, and coming back to perform the Lift Every Voice and Ben Folds concerts, Education Concerts and classical series concerts. The STL Symphony displayed its mastery in each area. The trip to Spain was a huge success leaving enthusiastic audiences across three great European cities. February also showed the deep respect and care for this community that the STL Symphony holds. Following the vandalism of the historic Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, Marie-Hélène Bernard used the power of music to heal and reached out to the Jewish community with an invitation to attend the performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, which featured passages from the books of Daniel and Psalms.  And, of course, the SymphonyCares program continued its work throughout the community.

The coming months will be very full for our committees, including the Picture the Music Awards, more Education Concerts and all of the activities surrounding them, Coffee Concerts, ongoing Boutique assignments, the new Ambassador program and, last, Gypsy Caravan capping off our year on Memorial Day weekend. Your support is what makes these programs possible—and we are always looking for new volunteers who want to take part in these programs. The most active members are often first invited to be part of the organization by a friend. Please invite those who might be interested to the upcoming New & Prospective Member Party on Monday, March 13 (see details below).

Please also be on the lookout for your membership renewal notice, which will arrive in April. As a reminder, all who make a $75 or more donation to the Annual Campaign between September 1 and August 31 are eligible to become members of the SVA. Those of you who have made a donation of $75 or more to the 2016/2017 Annual Campaign since September 1, 2016, have already qualified for membership for the 2017/2018 season. We will be asking those who have not yet made their donation to please do so by the end of June so we can spend the summer putting records and committees together.

On a personal note, I will greatly miss John Easley, Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer. In John’s four years with the STL Symphony, he worked tirelessly to bring the STL Symphony back to financial stability and developed programs now in place for each of us—staff, board, and volunteers—to continue to grow the resources available to this incredible orchestra toward keeping it vital into the future. He has provided the SVA with strong leadership, guidance, and support—and built a team who provide the same with a graciousness modeled after John’s. I’m happy for him to be moving to his “dream job” in the art museum world and am grateful he operated in our world for the past few years.

Last, while early, please be sure to mark Friday, May 5, on your calendar for our Spring Membership Meeting, where we will celebrate the year’s accomplishments and welcome in a new board.


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


New President-Elect
We are delighted to announce a historic first for the Symphony Volunteer Association with the selection of our first male President-Elect, Jeff Kaplan! Jeff and his wife Patty joined the SVA in 2012 and immediately dived right in volunteering for One & Done and joining the Instrument Playground committee where Jeff’s enthusiasm and organization led to his chairmanship. Jeff’s boundless energy and passion for music runs deep, with an entire family of musicians and musical scholars. In fact, Jeff and Patty’s move to St. Louis, following his retirement from a project management position at Lockheed, was due to the STL Symphony and one of its dazzling flutists, his daughter Andrea Kaplan, making him the first SVA president with a child in the orchestra as well. Jeff is a veritable Pied Piper in recruiting potential members, drawing people in with his love for music and the STL Symphony. The SVA will benefit greatly by this same enthusiasm, strong leadership and good humor as he works to guide the volunteers in support the goals of the STL Symphony.

New & Prospective Member Party
A New & Prospective Member party is planned for 6:30pm on Monday, March 13, at the home of Janice Seele for both new members and those interested in joining. The New & Prospective Membership Committee has been busy promoting the SVA wherever STL Symphony lovers gather. All members are encouraged to invite those who might be interested in joining, and to attend themselves to welcome and engage with new and prospective members. Amid plenty of time to socialize with others, committee heads will give brief overviews of their areas and be available for questions.

This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce others to the SVA! If you would like to attend and bring a friend who might be interested in joining, RSVP by Thursday, March 9, to Sara Fabick at 314-822-1183.

Spring Membership Meeting
It’s not too early to mark your calendar for the Spring Membership meeting, a luncheon event to be held on Friday, May 5, at the Saint Louis Club in Clayton.  Details will follow next month.

Nine Network Event
Just under 30 STL Symphony and Nine Network volunteers got together for a volunteer networking event on Saturday, February 25, touring The Nine Network building, gathering for a reception and enjoying the concert, Belshazzar’s Feast. The tour of The Nine Network facilities was fascinating for those attending. It was also eye opening to the fact that St. Louis was the first city in the United States to air public television, reinforcing the rich history and importance of culture in St. Louis over many years. Connecting with The Nine Network volunteers dovetails into the STL Symphony’s plan to expand its reach to others in the community and the big, bold Belshazzar’s Feast featuring both the orchestra and chorus was a great introduction to the STL Symphony.

Membership Basics
Membership Directory: Printed directories remain available for pickup by members at the Boutique. As always, please contact Directory Team Leader Susan Pribble with any changes to your information throughout the year at so we can keep your record current and make sure you don’t miss out on any news or events. 

SVA Webpage: A great way to stay informed is via the SVA webpage. To access the wealth of information found on the SVA page, go to The red band across the top of the home page will take you to the SVA page when you hover over “Support the Symphony” and then click on “Volunteer,” the bottom listing on the pop up tab. The webpage is a great place to keep up-to-date and you are encouraged to “click around” to your heart's content.

Nametags: 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.

Membership Renewals
In April, SVA members who have not yet made a donation of $75 or more (Sonata level) to the 2016/2017 Annual Campaign will be sent a reminder to make their donation by the end of June. All SVA members must be Sonata level or higher donors to the STL Symphony to initiate and/or maintain membership. 

We are requesting that donations be made by Friday, June 30, so that our Membership Committee has time to update records and committees toward the goal of producing an accurate directory committee listing at the start of our program year, which begins September 1. 


Express the Music
What began as a scheduling dilemma became a very successful integration of the Express the Music Awards with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert on Friday, March 3—introducing the Express the Music finalists and their families to the Youth Orchestra; presenting the Express the Music program and finalists to a far wider audience than in a typical ceremony; and, importantly, incorporating the award presentation into a musical experience reinforcing the creative interpretation of such music. This programming change made the event more exciting for finalists and, logistically, also made it easier for families to attend versus the ceremonies previously held on a school night.

More than 250 finalists, their family members and teachers attended the concert and awards, and 95% of the finalists were able to attend with their families. The Powell Hall tour group did an amazing job juggling tours for the 175 people who rsvp’d—far greater than the original estimates. Thirteen teachers and the administrators of three schools were able to attend to support and celebrate the finalists from their schools.  Kudos are owed to Chair Cecelia Webber, VP of Education Margaret Lahrmann and the STL Symphony's Director of Education and Youth Orchestra Jessica Ingraham for the hard work they put into making this change successful. 

Picture the Music
Judging Day for Picture the Music took place on Tuesday, February 14, presenting the team of seven highly skilled judges with a day of tough decision-making toward selecting 100 finalists and top category winners from among the hundreds of entries submitted. The next month will be spent communicating with the teachers of finalists and preparing materials for the Awards on Wednesday, March 29. The artwork will then be displayed throughout the Metro region. This year, Boeing headquarters has been added as a display location so that Boeing employees, who have supported the program through the Boeing Employees Community Fund, may view and enjoy the artwork. The Picture the Music display will be available for viewing per the following schedule:

  • St. Peter’s Cultural Arts Centre: March 30-April 10
  • St. Louis Public Library. Schlafly Branch: April 10-April 17
  • Plaza Frontenac: April 17-April 23
  • The Magic House: April 24-May 1
  • Boeing Headquarters: May 1-May 8

New volunteers are always welcome, especially with transporting and setting up the many displays, a fun activity that introduces volunteers to partner sites and allows them to show their creativity! Please contact Linda Seibert at or 314-991-9811 if interested.  This year’s Picture the Music inspiration was the Largo from Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, "From the New World."

Education Ambassadors
The support of the Education Concert Ambassadors has brought much relief to the teachers and staff responsible for moving thousands of children safely into and out of the Education Concerts—the February concerts flowed beautifully despite some rain and construction delays for incoming school buses. Next up for this group is supporting the Tiny Tunes concerts to be held March 13 and 14, bringing in little ones for three short concerts each day. With these eager younger children still at an age where lining up can be an abstract concept, the gentle guidance of the Education Ambassadors will be especially appreciated.

On Wednesday, February 8, a group of arts advocates representing the St. Louis Symphony traveled to Jefferson City to meet with legislators or Missouri Citizens Day for the Arts. The group included STL Symphony staff members Maureen Byrne, Michael Gandlmayr, Jessica Ingraham and Anthony Kiekow, as well as IN UNISON Graduate Fellows T.J. Abernathy and Octavia Sydnor, SymphonyCares Prison Project partner Ron Boyer, and volunteer advocates Penny Bari, Darryl Fabick, Sara Fabick and Margaret Lahrmann. The legislative team was supported by a dedicated team of SVA schedulers and the phenomenal organizing ability of Maureen Byrne. When last minute changes had to be made, additional volunteers immediately stepped up to the plate and went forward with cheerful flexibility.

The group had 88 in-person meetings with state legislators or their legislative assistants in less than six hours at the Capitol and met with a significant number of legislators who are on the House Budget or Senate Appropriations committees. We are hopeful that, in spite of budget cuts, our state legislators will ensure that the arts continue to thrive.

Our group stressed the importance of the exceptional outreach of the STL Symphony in so many districts beyond St. Louis and the educational enhancement that it brings to children throughout the state. To quote Plato: “Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul. . .” (Republic, Book III)

Important Information and Action Request from the League of American Orchestras
As you may be aware, the current U.S. administration plans to abolish the NEA and make changes to charitable giving. Nationally, private giving accounts for more than 40% of revenue for orchestras nationwide. New tax policy proposals from the House and President Trump are expected in the coming weeks that may make a big difference for charitable giving.

Two of our Missouri legislators hold important leadership positions on establishing the role of charitable giving policies. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO-8) are on the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, respectively. Please contact these U.S. legislators from Missouri and let them know your views on these important tax decisions. Your personal advocacy can make a difference in protecting charitable giving incentives.

Senator Claire McCaskill (314-367-1364): 5850 Delmar Blvd., Ste. A, St. Louis, MO 63112

Congressman Jason Smith (202-225-4404): 1118 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

Philanthropy and Stewardship

New Ambassador Program
There is still time to RSVP for the next set of Ambassador training sessions to be held on Wednesday, March 15 at 9:30am and Tuesday, March 28 at 1:00pm in the Whitaker Room. Those interested should contact Janice Seele at with their preferred training date.

Ambassador outreach will begin with hosting Monday night Channel 9 STL Symphony broadcasts at select retirement homes where many former subscribers and SVA members reside. As the number of trained volunteers grows, additional locations can be added. Additionally, the types of outreach activities performed by Ambassadors will grow along with the pool of these trained volunteers.

Those attending the first series of Ambassador training sessions found them to be extremely interesting and left feeling excited and confident about sharing the information and their passion for the work and musicianship of the STL Symphony.

With a goal of training all STL Symphony volunteers, a more varied training calendar is needed suit the schedules of more volunteers. Look for additional training dates to be announced soon.

Gypsy Caravan
Within hours of the Gypsy Caravan merchandise vendor contracts becoming available online on February 1, more than 25 contracts had been received. While the contracts continue to come in, the committee is always looking for new vendors. If you are aware of vendors who might be a good fit for Gypsy Caravan, please forward the information to Ed Vega at or direct them to the Gypsy Caravan webpage where they can find out all relevant information and register online.

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

Picture the Music: Processing
Fri, Mar 10, 9:30am
SVA Office

Instrument Playground: Family Concert
Sun, Mar 12, 2pm
Powell Hall

One & Done: Family Reception Set Up
Sun, Mar 12, 3pm
Met Bar

Instrument Playground: Tiny Tunes Concert
Mar 13 & 14, 8:30am
Powell Hall

One & Done: Tiny Tunes Set Up
Mar 13 & 14, 8:45am
Powell Hall

Education Concert Ambassadors
Mar 13 & 14, 8:45am
Powell Hall

New & Prospective Member Party
Mon, Mar 13, 6:30pm
Home of Janice & Steve Seele

Ambassador Training
Wed, Mar 15, 9:30am
Tues, Mar 28, 1pm
Whitaker Room

Picture the Music: Artwork Prep
Fri, Mar 17, 10am
SVA Office

2017 Gala Celebration
Sat, Mar 25, 6pm
The Ritz-Carlton

Picture the Music: Display Set Up
Wed, Mar 29, 1pm
Powell Hall

Instrument Playground
Wed, Mar 29, 10:45am
Blessed Theresa of Calcutta

Picture the Music Awards
Wed, Mar 29, 7pm
Powell Hall

Picture the Music: Display Transfer
Thu, Mar 29, 7:30am
Powell Hall/St. Peter’s Cultural Centre

SVA Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Apr 5, 11am
SVA Office

One & Done: Bus Hosts
Fri, Apr 7, 8:30am
St. Louis Country Library Headquarters

Coffee Concert
Fri, Apr 7, 10:30am
Powell Hall

Picture the Music: Display Transfer
Mon, Apr 10, 7:30am
St. Peter’s Cultural Centre/St. Louis Public Library, Schlafly Branch

Gypsy Caravan Steering Committee Meeting
Wed, Apr 12, 3:30-5pm
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 3/2/17)