News & Notes - May 2017

From the SVA President

How quickly time has flown by! I have felt overwhelmingly privileged to serve as your Symphony Volunteer Association President for the past two years. I have learned so much more about this amazing organization than I knew before taking on the position. Being part of the Board of Trustees for these two years has given me an increased sense of understanding for what it takes to make an orchestra of this caliber thrive. Getting closer to the staff has given me an increased appreciation of the skill and planning it takes to present the music we love. Being a “de facto” member of all of the SVA committees has made me more aware of the extent to which the SVA supports the STL Symphony and has given me the opportunity to get to know so many members at a deeper and richer level than I otherwise would. My life has been far richer for the experience and I thank you for it.

I have been consistently impressed by this year’s performances, often leaving thinking, "it can’t get any better than this,” and, yet, it does. And next year’s concert lineup is just as exciting. As SVA members, we need to make sure that those outside of our STL Symphony circle are aware of the astonishing music this orchestra produces and invite others to experience it for themselves. Regardless of their preferences, the STL Symphony is talented and flexible enough to satisfy a wide range of musical tastes.

I am also constantly in awe of the good work the STL Symphony musicians do in the community. Hearing Bjorn Ranheim, David DeRiso and Shawn Weil play on stage with the Jennings Junior High strings at the Saturday, April 29 concert was a thrill.  Seeing the accompanying video clip about how Symphony in Your School works with and reaches the students was inspiring. I was also fortunate enough to see the Annual Welcome Concert at the International Institute, featuring the STL Symphony ensemble Strings of Arda, who played world music pieces with two refugee guest artists and students from Gateway Science Academy, another Symphony in Your School partner.  It was exhilarating to hear, and yet another example of the powerful outreach programs the STL Symphony does every week.

We can, wherever we are, share these and the many other stories we know about the STL Symphony and the outreach it is doing around town. You can click here for Anthony Kiekow’s latest Stories from Backstage.

Membership renewal letters have recently been mailed. Committee descriptions and signup forms are also linked below. Your qualifying gift to the Annual Campaign and return of your committee signups by Friday, June 30, will make next year’s Membership Committee extremely grateful.

Philanthropy staff-wise, Amy Drummond has been promoted to Vice President of Philanthropy. Amy was recruited by John Easley a little over a year ago as part of his overall succession plan. While John’s departure came earlier than he originally expected, Amy’s performance was just what he’d expected and her promotion is a reflection of the excellent work she has done since joining the staff. Additionally, Vicki Boutwell recently joined the Philanthropy team as Senior Director, Corporate Philanthropy, having held a similar position at The Nine Network. Laura Dwyer will be playing in the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder from June 25 through August 18—she will be available via email and phone while away, but please understand there may be a slight delay in response. If you need to meet with Laura for any reason, please be aware of her schedule and make arrangements accordingly.

Oddly, this, my last News & Notes Letter from the President, has been the most difficult to write as it is, in a way, a goodbye. Not a goodbye to all of you whom I’ve been so fortunate to serve, nor to the STL Symphony staff whom I so admire, but to the sometimes daunting and always exciting sense of being in the middle of helping to make something significant happen. This truly is an amazing orchestra and I leave the presidency even more in awe of the music produced and the lives touched by the remarkable musicians and the dedicated staff. I also feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to get to know more of you, to rely on more of you, and to leave this position with so many more highly valued friends. I look forward to continuing these relationships as a regular member of the SVA. 

I have every confidence that Jeff will find the same deep satisfaction in the role of president that I have experienced. Wherever possible, I plan to support him in every way I can to help make this organization stronger and to support the STL Symphony with enriching lives through the power of music. He will be a dynamic leader for all of us and bring a wealth of fresh ideas, great experience and infectious enthusiasm!


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


2017/2018 Committees
It is time to sign up for 2017/2018 committees, as most will begin scheduling kick-off meetings and timelines during the summer; please view the committee descriptions and signup form. Not only is this a good time to consider new committees, but it is very important to let committee chairs know whether you plan to be active on their committee in the coming year. We do have a couple of new committees and teams to consider. Additionally, committee structures and reporting relationships have been rebalanced along with changing STL Symphony needs and direction. 

The new committee structure follows and reflects the changes vs. 2016/2017:

  • Fundraising has been renamed Philanthropy and Stewardship to better reflect its composition.
  • Committees reporting to Philanthropy and Stewardship: Advocacy, Ambassadors, Boutique, Friends, Gypsy Caravan
  • Committees reporting to Education: Express the Music, Instrument Playground, Picture the Music, Powell Hall Opportunities
  • Teams reporting to Powell Hall Opportunities: Coffee Concerts, Education Concert Ambassadors, Powell Hall Tours, Youth Orchestra
  • Committees reporting to Membership: Communications, New & Prospective Members, One & Done, Regular Members
    • Membership Engagement is a team reporting to both Regular Members and New & Prospective Members; Special SVA Events is a new team reporting to Regular Members; SVA Publications, Playbill, and Photography are teams reporting to Communications; Directory is a team reporting directly to the VP of Membership
  • The Tech team reports to the President

As opposed to chairs and vice chairs, team leaders are not elected and are not held to a two-year term. Filling the positions of team leaders is the responsibility of the respective committee chairs with the assistance of the Executive Committee.

Welcome to the 2017-2019 SVA Board
The following dedicated SVA members have been elected to the SVA board of 2017-2019 and bring to their positions a wealth of talents and experiences. Please be sure to give each of them your full support and thanks for their commitment. 

Executive Committee
President: Jeff Kaplan
VP, Education: Glenna Schindler
VP, Philanthropy & Stewardship: Kent McNeil
VP, Membership: Liz Halpin
Secretary: Mary Parks

Chair, Express the Music: Terry Gates
Vice Chair, Express the Music: Sharon Voss
Chair, Picture the Music: Bev Cox
Vice Chair, Picture the Music: Andrea Tegenkamp
Chair Instrument Playground: Jim Dodds (second year of two-year term)
Vice Chair, Instrument Playground: John Malvin
Chair, Advocacy: Margaret Gilleo (second year of two-year term)
Chair, Powell Hall Opportunities: Debbie Dillon
Vice Chair, Powell Hall Opportunities: Terry Ciccolella
Chair, Ambassadors: Sara Fabick
Vice Chair, Ambassadors: Gerry Frankenfeld

Philanthropy and Stewardship
Chair, Boutique: Jan Congdon
Vice Chair, Boutique: Linda Seibert
Chair, Gypsy Caravan: Open
Vice Chair, Gypsy Caravan: Open
Chair, Friends: Susan Hoffman

Chair, Regular Members: Phyllis Traub
Vice Chair, Regular Members: Rebecca Gorski (second year of two-year term)
Chair, New & Prospective Members: Connie Wepfer
Vice Chair, New & Prospective Members: Jim Moore
Chair, One & Done: Elizabeth Crosby
Chair, Communications: Cathy Bailey
Vice Chair, Communications: Margaret Lahrmann

Note that the positions of Gypsy chair and vice chair are still open. Per bylaws, the Nominating Committee in consultation with the president will fill any open positions.  Please contact Dotti Fischer, Chair of Nominating, with any suggestions for these open positions.

Spring Membership Meeting
The Spring Membership Meeting was held on Friday, May 5, at the Saint Louis Club.  In addition to a delicious lunch, President & CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard updated the members about the plans and direction of the STL Symphony, including progress on the strategic plan and an overview of the search for a new Music Director. Jessica Ingraham, Director of Education and Youth Orchestra, presented Education Department programs and initiatives, sharing details of the incredible impact the STL Symphony is making with area youth. After the slate of officers for the 2017-2019 SVA term was voted upon, new SVA President Jeff Kaplan received a lovely surprise when the “special musical performance” turned out to be Jeff’s own daughter, STL Symphony flutist Andrea Kaplan, playing with pianist Nina Ferrigno—thus the little bit of secrecy surrounding the emailed invitation. The meeting and performance was a lovely way to usher in Jeff and his incoming board, as well as to thank the outgoing SVA board members who have served the STL Symphony and membership so well for the past two years.

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
If you have not yet made your membership renewal gift of $75 or more to the Annual Campaign, please do so prior to Friday, June 30. Your gift by June 30 will assist our Membership Committee tremendously, allowing your fellow volunteers 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. 

We are also inviting allmembers—those having already made their gift and those yet to do so—to participate in the Beracha Challenge. Barry Beracha has been a tireless and effective Chairman of the Board for the past four years, guiding the STL Symphony through its search for a President & CEO and acting as Marie-Hélène’s rock-solid support and mentor as she took the reins of the organization. While Barry’s term as chairman is ending, he and his wife Barbara are continuing to give generously, pledging $100,000 for the Beracha Challenge to inspire contributions to the 2017 Annual Campaign. New or increased gifts of $75 or more will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $100,000, through June 30.

Please click here to make your new or increased gift to the Annual Campaign.


Link Up Concerts
Education Concert Ambassadors and Powell Hall Tours are busy today, May 10, assisting with the STL Symphony’s Link Up concerts. Link Up requires a big commitment on the part of the teachers and their students, and that commitment results in an extremely rewarding concert experience. Students attending Link Up performances arrive prepared to join in with the orchestra musicians during key portions of the concert, playing their parts on the recorders on which they’ve practiced for months. The energy and enthusiasm is palpable and the memory lasts a lifetime.

Instrument Playground
Instrument Playground will end their season supporting Jessica Ingraham and the Education Department’s ongoing partnership with the Riverview Gardens School District at their Fine Arts and Academic Festival on Saturday, May 20. The Education Department has been working with students from this struggling district, which has been working hard to regain accreditation. While still denied accreditation by the state, the district has been showing major improvement and, for the first time in many years, was eligible for full accreditation. The music program is a bright spot and the STL Symphony’s support is very much appreciated. The festival is a recognition of the strides they‘ve made and encouragement to the students and their families

Urgent: Calling All Arts Advocates!
From the desk of Advocacy Chair, Margaret Gilleo
Call your state senator ASAP and ask him or her to support funding for the arts in Missouri.

Funding for the arts in Missouri appears to be in a holding pattern. The budget for 2016-17 was $4.75 million. While it originally had appeared that the budget for the arts would be increased by approximately 25%, this did not happen due to overall budgetary restrictions.

For the fiscal year 2014-15, the STL Symphony received an operating support grant of $210,517. The following year, this amount was reduced to less than half, $104,223. The current year's grant is $108,168. Projections are difficult to make, but it is expected that funding will be approximately the same in 2018.

In addition, the proposed 2018 federal budget includes eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently, 13.4% of Missouri Arts Council money comes from NEA. Last year this amounted to almost $6,500 toward the Symphony's MAC grant.

At this moment, the Missouri House has passed a budget for the upcoming year and the bill (HB2) is now under consideration by the Missouri Senate. So please, contact your state senator by phone, email, or letter and emphasize the importance of continued funding for the arts. Ask her or him to increase, or at least to maintain, the current level of funding. And while you’re at it, contact your U.S. Senator and 
Representative to request that the National Endowment for the Arts be continued for present and future generation.

Philanthropy and Stewardship

Ambassador Program
If you haven’t yet had a chance to attend Ambassador training, mark your calendar for Saturday, June 10 at 10:00am in the Whitaker Room. Ambassador training will give even seasoned SVA volunteers a new appreciation of the scope of the STL Symphony’s programs, offerings, direction and communication strategy, helping all of us become more effective advocates and hosts for the orchestra.

Thus far, Ambassadors have twice hosted watch parties at six retirement communities in conjunction with The Nine Network’s “Night at the Symphony” broadcasts. The volunteers hosting these events have really enjoyed the experience, sharing what they love about the STL Symphony, finding many old friends, past and current subscribers and passionate and informed STL Symphony lovers among those attending. Many of the residences have state-of-the-art in-house theaters, making the broadcasts a truly engaging shared experience for everyone.

Trained ambassadors also assisted at the STL Symphony booth at Earth Day in Forest Park, reaching out to introduce the STL Symphony to new audiences. 

Next, Ambassadors will work with Director of Education and Youth Orchestra Jessica Ingraham at Riverview Gardens High School on Saturday, May 20, during their Riverview Gardens Fine Arts and Academic Festival, letting attendees know about the STL Symphony, its schedule and programs and involving youth in some music-themed games. Instrument Playground will also be present to introduce children to instruments. Taking part in the Riverview Gardens Fine Arts and Academic Festival is important to the STL Symphony Education Department, with Jessica Ingraham stating, “Riverview Gardens has been a great partner for us these last few seasons and Harvey Lockhart, the band director, is doing amazing work in Riverview. He has a lot of obstacles up there, but he keeps on trying…”

Gypsy Caravan
Now is the time to commit to volunteering for the 45th annual Gypsy Caravan over Memorial Day weekend! Gypsy Caravan has raised close to $4 million for the STL Symphony and its education and community programs over the years and the help of all of our volunteers—and many of their friends and relatives— is needed to make this annual extravaganza possible.

As with last year, volunteers who give two or more shifts to the event that weekend— or do so as a family unit—will receive a voucher for two to attend a concert and pre-concert reception in the fall. Last fall’s concert and reception was great fun for all attending, and a wonderful opportunity for volunteers to get to know one another better outside of the event.

Gypsy Caravan is open to the public on Monday, May 29, from 7:00am-4:00pm, and volunteers are also needed on Sunday, May 28, as we check in and welcome our vendors for setup the day before. 

Advance sale wristbands are now available at area Dierbergs Markets, giving purchasers a 10% discount vs. onsite gate prices and expedited entry into the event.  Free parking onsite and at off-site locations is available and free shuttles to and from off-site parking make this option convenient.

New vendors are still being accepted.  Please direct any who might be interested to 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

Powell Hall Tours: Link Up
Wed, May 10, 11am
Powell Hall

Gypsy Caravan: Steering Committee Meeting
Wed, May 10, 3:30-5pm
SVA Office

Picture the Music: Artwork Pick Up
Fri, May 12, 3pm
Sat, May 13, 9am
SVA Office

Instrument Playground/Ambassadors
Sat, May 20
Riverview Gardens High School

Gypsy Caravan
Mon, May 29, 7am-4pm
The Family Arena

SVA Executive Committee Meeting
Wed, Jun 7, 11am
SVA Office

SVA Board Meeting
Thu, Jun 8, 11:15am
SVA Office

Ambassador Training
Sat, Jun 10, 10am
Whitaker Room

Free Community Events


total volunteer hours
contributed during the 16/17 season (as of 4/30/17)