News and Notes - November 2017

Top Stories

In Case You Missed It – Nine Network’s interview with David Robertson, aired Monday night, October 24, has been posted on their web site.  Please enjoy!  

SVA Discovery Committee to be Formed – The SVA is planning to re-activate the Discovery Committee, which has been dormant for a number of years. This comes as a follow-up to the Brainstorming Session and in response to Marie-Hélène Bernard’s request at our Fall Dinner that we discover and share best practices from other sources. The committee, to be led by Vi Steinmeyer, will share ideas with other successful volunteer associations and work with the SVA Board and the SLSO Staff to generate recommendations for new SVA activities and initiatives. 
If you would like to participate, please contact Jeff Kaplan at          

SVA Fall Membership Meeting – Heartfelt thanks to our skilled Membership Committee, led by Phyllis Traub and Rebecca Gorski, for our hugely successful Fall Membership Meeting. This year, we were at the Meadowbrook Country Club and were treated to a musical performance by the Ilex Trio, composed of SLSO musicians Kristin Ahlstrom, Peter Henderson, and Anne Fagerburg. Keynote speaker was President & CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard. Over 80 members attended, and everything worked like clockwork. Congratulations to the entire committee.

Powell Hall Memorabilia Search begins – On Wednesday, October 18, Jean Saunders and Jeff Kaplan met with Maureen Byrne (SLSO Director of Diversity and Community Affairs) and two representatives from the Central Library to discuss the upcoming exhibit that will celebrate the SLSO's 50 years at Powell Hall.  The Library's plans are very exciting, and we can do our part by lending any memorabilia (photos, Christmas ornaments, logo items, etc.) to the exhibit.  
If you have anything to contribute, please contact Jean at

All the best,
Jeff Kaplan
President, St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association
c: 610-613-8527


SLSO Supports Make-a-Wish Foundation
Several months ago, Make-A-Wish Missouri contacted the SLSO about Faith, a seven-year-old born with SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome (a rare and progressive genetic condition). The syndrome has left her blind and with limited mobility. There is little research and no cure for SOX2.

Faith loves music and it has given her comfort during frequent medical testings and multiple hospitalizations. This love of music inspired her Wish to have SLSO musicians play for her. After discovering she was a huge Tony Bennett fan, the symphony had Adam Maness arrange her two favorite Bennett songs (“Smile” and “Fly Me to the Moon”) for string quartet and vocalist. Four SLSO musicians (violinists Celeste Golden Boyer and Eva Kozma, violist Beth Guterman Chu, and cellist Melissa Brooks) and Artist-in-Residence Brian Owens granted her wish privately at her home. Our Director of Diversity and Community Affairs, Maureen Byrne, oversaw the project with her usual brilliance and compassion.

Faith and her family wanted to share her wish publicly with a supportive community. The symphony did that as part of the SymphonyCares Celebrates Life concert  on Sunday, October 8, at St. Francis Xavier College Church. The concert was free and open to the public.

This project is just one of the remarkable things made possible through your gifts to the SLSO Annual Fund. Your continued support is greatly appreciated.

Symphony in Your School Residencies Begin
The fall elementary school residencies include two pilot programs of new curriculum that are aligned with the national standards for music education. Seventy-five third-graders at Mullanphy Elementary School (in the St. Louis Public School District) and about one-hundred second-graders from Kellison Elementary School (in the Rockwood School District) are participating in the program.

Partnership with the St. Louis Blues in Full Swing
Well over 1,200 children and parents attended the Family concert on Sunday, October 15. The concert was a team effort of the SLSO and the St. Louis Blues, with Louie the Bear as the special guest. (Louie is a delightful companion, and we’re ready to put him on our payroll as he has great conducting chops!)

During the week of October 16-20,close to 7,000 students in grades 1 through 4 came to Powell Hall to hear the SLSO present a program about the Athletes of the Orchestra. (There were two concerts on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, and one on Thursday.) The program featured music connected to sports, with video footage of hockey games, orchestra, and hockey players.

Here is a link to the video the Blues produced from footage taken at the Family concert. The video will probably be shown at a future Blues game. Enjoy—and go Blues!

SVA Notes

Education and Community Programs

Education Concerts
Is your son’s, daughter’s or grandchild's school attending SLSO Education Concerts? If not, please visit to find out more.

Tour Guides Needed
Becoming a Powell Hall Tour Guide is a great way to learn about Powell Hall and our history. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with both students and adults.  If you're a new SVA member, this is something you can jump into.  We'll provide training and information, you will first shadow an experienced guide, and then will be ready to go. 
If you're interested, please email Alan Fiddleman at

Philanthropy and Stewardship

Gypsy Retirement Letter Sent to Vendors
The following is an excerpt of a letter that was sent to our Gypsy Caravan vendors:

“Over the 45-year history of Gypsy Caravan, the Symphony Volunteer Association (SVA) has raised more than $4 million in support of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and its mission: enriching lives through the power of music. The revenue raised has helped to fund many community and education programs."

“As a vendor, you have contributed to making this tradition successful year after year. Some of you have been loyal supporters for many years. We greatly appreciate your loyalty year after year and keeping our shoppers well fed and happy.”

In September, Friends Committee members gathered for the first of three meetings to thank Friends-level donors for their contributions toward the FY17 Annual Campaign. In the past, this personal level of appreciation has been warmly accepted. Betsy Malinak, SLSO’s Senior Director of Individual Philanthropy, provided the script and explained the process to be followed for each phone call. (She also generously provided refreshments for the volunteers!) We hope to have nine or ten volunteers participate at each of the next two meetings.

Watch Parties
Ambassadors held Watch Parties at seven locations on Monday, Nov 6.  We will be welcoming an eighth retirement center at the next Watch Party in February.

We encourage our Ambassadors to sign up as Shadows before hosting their first Watch Party, to get acquainted with how the process works.  In November, Ambassadors hosted at two new locations and will be hosting at a third new venue in February.  There are slightly different arrangements at each location, but the Activity Directors are very cooperative and helpful in preparing for Watch Party Hosts.

The most important thing to remember is that Hosting and attending a Watch Party is just what it sounds like.  You will be giving a party, greeting guests, offering refreshments, speaking a bit about the St. Louis Symphony’s outreach programs, talking a bit about the music to be performed, and then sitting back relaxing and enjoying the concert with nice people – all in about an hour and a half.  It’s fun! 

We are hoping to have more Ambassadors get actively involved as Watch Party Hosts, and we will also be helping to serve as Bus Ambassadors at holiday concerts in December.  More news to follow on that assignment.

Committee Chair Sara Fabick has provided some general guidelines for Watch Parties:

Watch Parties will be held at retirement centers when Channel 9 broadcasts Night at the Symphony on the first Monday of the month. (At this time we are not planning on using alternate dates or using DVDs to show the program.) 

Watch Party Schedule: 

  • 6:15pm – Arrive at the retirement center, set up refreshments, and check on television equipment
  • 6:30  6:40pm – Visit and chat with residents and share refreshments
  • 6:40pm – Make a brief presentation about the night’s program
  • 7:00pm – Share viewing of the program with the residents
  • 8:00pm – Make brief comments and answer questions following the viewing (at Ambassadors’ discretion)

Gerry Frankenfeld is working with Laura Dwyer and other SLSO staff members to get Program Notes to Ambassadors as soon as possible.

Ambassador Training
In August, two Ambassador Training sessions were held at our Centene office. The Ambassador Committee has now given 66 SVA members extensive information about ways in which the SLSO benefits our community. Newer Ambassadors are now attending Watch Parties as shadows, so that they have the opportunity to see how the process works before they become Lead Ambassadors.

Advocacy Day
We recommend that all SVA members who plan to attend Arts Day in Jefferson City attend an Ambassador training. That training will give the Advocacy Committee a better sense of the breadth and scope of the work the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra does.

On Saturday, September 23, the Boutique opened for the first time this season. New items for sale include silver treble clef or Beethoven's 5th earrings, an assortment of note cards, and t-shirts in honor of Powell Hall’s 50th.Other items in the inventory include placemats with a keyboard motif, red and black coffee mugs, and, of course, a selection of CDs, including ones by the SLSO and some by orchestra members. 

Anyone interested in volunteering for the committee or becoming a lead cashier, please contact Jan Congdon or Linda Seibert. (And when you’re at a concert at Powell, stop by and say hello to the Boutique volunteers. They always appreciate the support.)

Upcoming Events

Open Rehearsal with Beethoven, David Robertson and Amy Kaiser
Thursday, November 16, 7:00pm

SVA General Board Meeting
Thursday, December 14, 11:00am, Whitaker Room

Our quarterly General Board meeting will begin with a light lunch, and then conduct our regular SVA General Board business.  Watch for an invitation and agenda as the date approaches.

Katia and Marielle Labèque, pianos
Sunday, January 28, 2018, 7:00pm
featuring Stravinsky, Debussy, & Ravel

"Whether Mozart or Stravinsky, their musical line always sounds as if it's being woven for the very first time... But the illusion of improvisation is the genius of their performances." - The Times 

Special pre-concert talk and complimentary glass of wine for SVA members!

Washington University Great Artists Series
560 Trinity Ave, St. Louis, MO 63130