News and Notes - September 2017

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Welcome to the new season! We're off to an amazing start with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's concert September 13 on Art Hill. This annual concert draws thousands of St. Louisans, some of whom are being introduced to the SLSO for the first time. Within the SVA, several teams and committees have already or will soon hold their season kickoff meetings to hit the ground running.

Meanwhile, there is big news to share!

SVA Moving to Powell Hall – After years of living separated from the SLSO Staff and the center of activity, beginning January 1, 2018, our SVA headquarters will finally have a home within Powell Hall. Not only will this move eliminate the paid-parking hassle we've experienced at the Centene Center for the Arts (we'll now be able to park for free in the Portfolio Gallery lot, adjacent to the red brick building immediately east of the Hall off Delmar), but more importantly, we will now be co-located with our esteemed Associate Director for Volunteer Programs, Laura Dwyer, and with the SLSO staff members who rely on our support.

It should be noted that we are not saying a total goodbye to Centene. As needed, we will still have access to rooms there for large meetings or events.

SVA will convene an ad-hoc committee to assist Powell Hall staff in planning and executing the transition from our current office to our new Powell Hall location. John Carr will chair the committee which will be composed of one representative from Picture the Music; Express the Music; and Instrument Playground.  We plan to store most material at Centene.

Farewell to Gypsy Caravan – In a recent letter to the SVA Board and the Gypsy Caravan steering committee, CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard shared the difficult but necessary decision to bid farewell to our long-running Gypsy Caravan. Here is her letter in full:

Dear Symphony Volunteer Association Friends,

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 our mission: enriching lives through the power of music. We share your pride in this wonderful tradition and are so grateful for the many community and education programs – not to mention the artistic excellence – you have supported through Gypsy. An impressive number of volunteer hours have gone into making this event a success – year after year.

In recent years, we have struggled to sustain Gypsy with continued audience and revenue decline and increased efforts needed to produce the event. After much consideration and consultation with past SVA presidents and volunteers, we have decided to retire Gypsy Caravan entirely. Our goal is to refocus the tremendous resources and talent of the SVA and use all your amazing volunteer energy towards our education programs, outreach and stewardship, giving volunteers the opportunity to have the greatest impact in advancing the orchestra’s mission and work. For some of you, Gypsy Caravan may be the primary way you connect with the SLSO. We hope you will consider new opportunities to stay involved and volunteer your time and talents to building programs that support our core mission and the community we serve. Here are a few for your consideration:

  1. One special fundraising event that we will have next spring will be a Celebratory Anniversary Brunch on April 15, 2018. This event will focus on the orchestra’s 50 years at Powell Hall, as well as David Robertson’s final season with the orchestra. It will take place on site at Powell Hall following the Gala the night before. There will be volunteer opportunities to highlight the many activities that have taken place over our 50 years at Powell; and a very special way that we can celebrate the many contributions of Gypsy Caravan. We hope you will save the date and join us for this special event.
  2. Another exciting program that is being developed is our SVA Ambassador Program. As a significant new focus of the SVA, this group of trained volunteers take the experience of classical music through our monthly, “Night at the Symphony” series on the Nine Network to senior living centers throughout the community. This is an opportunity for SVA volunteers to deepen a personal connection to the music and share their passion for the orchestra by hosting a broadcast of an SLSO concert for residents, many who can no longer attend a concert in person. SVA Ambassadors also represent SLSO at many festivals and corporate events throughout the region. This program will grow to include more opportunities both at Powell Hall and in the community. We hope you will consider becoming involved, if you haven’t already.

Whether it is engaging with our patrons at Powell Hall or out in the community, your passion for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra helps build relationships and connections that are a vital part of our organization. The SLSO values and appreciates everything you do.

With gratitude,

Marie-Hélène Bernard
President & CEO
St. Louis Symphony

Good & Welfare – In recent months, the SVA has had reason to reach out to our members to recognize both good and bad news. We decided that it's appropriate to have a "good and welfare" function to recognize the need for sympathetic or celebratory communication, and to follow through. This task will fall under our Membership Engagement team and will be handled by Kathryn Snodgrass.

If you become aware of an illness or special event that the SVA should recognize, please let me know at JAKappy@gmail.com, and I'll pass the word along.

September: Time to Get Active – The month of September is filled with kick-off meetings of our various committees, which are good opportunities for committee members to catch up, get to know one another before serving together, and reacquaint themselves with the project at hand. Upcoming SVA events are always listed in the right-hand column of this newsletter. Please read the updates from various areas within the SVA and respond as you are able. Volunteer needs tend to congregate around key dates—especially Education Concerts—so the more volunteers on hand, the more we’re able to help.

If you are just re-focusing on post-summer activities and have not had a chance to read the SVA 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. Please send in your forms as soon as you can so our chairs can begin communicating with their committee members. (We are trying to make committee sign-ups easier for all and will soon provide online sign-up.)

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 Symphony's Annual Fund, please take this moment to renew now simply by clicking on this secure link:Donate Now. 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 St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and we want you to be a part of it!

This season marks the 50th anniversary of the Symphony's first concert at Powell Hall, and several special events are being 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 in which he's involved! Watch your email for announcements throughout the season.

All the best,

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


Artistic & Operations
The 2017/2018 season promises to be thrilling, beginning with our season opener featuring Emmanuel Ax playing different Mozart works in three separate concerts (Sept. 23-Oct. 1). Other seasonal favorites include Beethoven 5 (Oct. 27-29), Ravel’s Bolero on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 24-26), a Vivaldi Celebration (Dec. 1-10), and Orff’s Carmina burana (Feb. 9-11). The season closes with Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performing with the SLSO (May 4-6). Plus, there’s many other wonderful concerts in between. We hope to see you at many of them!

Education, Youth Orchestra, & Community Partnerships
Love numbers? Here’s a significant one: 80%. That’s the percentage of SLSO musicians who have signed up to do work through SLSO community and education programs (e.g., Symphony In Your School, IN UNISON, SymphonyCares, Music Without Boundaries) for the 2017/2018 season. This extra commitment to be involved with outside activities is not mandatory and is in addition to the musicians’ core work in the orchestra. Compared with most professional orchestras in the U.S., an 80% musician participation rate in education and community engagement activities is extremely rare. (The closest rate of which we are aware is 50 %.) Just another reason why we’re so proud of our extraordinary St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

EXTRA CREDIT On Stage at Powell: A Side-by-Side Experience for Music Educators and SLSO

The Symphony is celebrating the educators who teach music in our schools by giving them an opportunity to rehearse and perform a concert side by side with members of the SLSO. This special program, led by Resident Conductor Gemma New, is for elementary, middle, and high school music teachers. Educators who are interested in being part of this unique experience need to complete and submit an online application by October 1, 2017. The hour-long concert, which will be held at Powell Hall on Friday, February 2, begins at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. (Tickets are not needed, but audience RSVPs are requested.)

Progress continues on replacement of the elevators, and the staff is looking forward to the September completion of this project. Other summer projects in process include: 1) replacing the wheelchair lift, 2) repairing and repainting exterior fire escapes, 3) repairing exterior tuck-pointing, and 4) adding air curtains and/or wind breaks at some entrances. The City has completed replacement of old sidewalks on Delmar and is in the process of adding a crosswalk to assist patrons who park in the VA Hospital lot on the north side of Delmar.

SVA Notes

General Information

Fall Membership Meeting
Please join us on October 5, 6:00 PM, at the Meadowbrook Country Club in Ballwin for our first full membership meeting of the season. The Membership team is putting together a fun and informative evening. SLSO’s CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard, will be the featured speaker. We are fortunate to have the Ilex Trio featuring Kristin Ahlstrom, Peter Henderson and Anne Fagerburg as our SLSO guest artists!

Liz Halpin, Vice-President

New & Prospective
When you started with SVA, did you know anyone in the group? Wish you’d had someone to “show you the ropes”? If you would enjoy welcoming new volunteers and helping them find their niche, consider becoming an SVA Mentor. (And if you were lucky enough to have someone guide you at the beginning, maybe now’s the time to pay it forward.) Contact committee chair Connie Wepfer (akacw@swbell.net) or vice chair Jim Moore (clesiemo@yahoo.com) for more information.

Education and Community Programs
Glenna Schindler, Vice-President

The Education kickoff meeting is September 12 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.

Instrument Playground
The first Instrument Playground event of the year was held August 22 at the Missouri Botanical Garden as part of the Symphony’s support of MOBOT’s Member Tuesday Nights. Team members set up tables with the various instrument groups in Spoeher Plaza, giving a new audience of kids (young and old!) an opportunity to discover their inner musician.

Powell Hall Opportunities
September marks the launch of a busy fall season for the Powell Hall Opportunities (PHO) teams. During September and October, all four teams (Youth Symphony Orchestra, Coffee Concerts, Bus Ambassadors, and Powell Hall Tours) begin activities for the 2017/2018 season. We’re currently scheduling volunteers for the fall events, so please contact the team you’re interested in joining.

Powell Hall Tours
The Powell Hall Tours team is ably led by long-time SVA member Alan Fiddleman. The Powell Hall Tours Guides conduct tours primarily after the Education Concerts. Our goal is to educate students about Powell Hall and the Symphony, encourage appreciation of the music played by the orchestra, and invite return visits to future concerts. Students are the Symphony’s future audience.

Tours begin in October, coinciding with the first Education Concert. If you would like to learn more or volunteer, contact Alan (af1776@earthlink.net). Training and information on Powell Hall are available for all new volunteers.

Symphony Youth Orchestra
Orientation for this year’s SYO musicians was September 6 at Powell Hall. Two SVA volunteers helped the musicians check in and collected their forms.

We’re also beginning to plan for supporting the selection of next year’s SYO. Preliminary auditions will be held at Clayton High School on two evenings in April. Final auditions will be at Powell Hall over six evenings and one full day in June. Volunteers will be needed at both events to help with check-in and to act as room monitors and runners.

If you’re interested in volunteering to support the YSO, contact Margie Knapp (cmaigle@aol.com) or Martha Duchild (mduchild@hotmail.com). We’re looking forward to a great year with conductor Gemma New. The Cycle I concert takes place at Powell Hall on Friday, November 17, and is scheduled to feature:

BORODIN Poloetsian Dances from Prince Igor
ANNA CLYNE Abstractions
DVOŘÁK Symphony No. 8 in G Major, Op. 88

We encourage all SVA members to spread the word about our wonderful Youth Orchestra and be inspired by the young musicians' dedication!

Education Concert Bus Ambassadors
James Mueller is the new team lead for our Bus Ambassadors. He is currently scheduling volunteers for three Education Concert Series in October, February, and May. This is a fun activity that allows you to greet enthusiastic students from Missouri and Illinois and share the magic of SLSO’s music while guiding them to and from Powell Hall. Contact Jim (jemuel@wisperhome.com) to learn more or volunteer.

Coffee Concerts
This team is led by Correne Murphy, who is currently scheduling volunteers to set up and serve the tasty Community Coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. There are eight concerts on Fridays between September and April. Each volunteer receives a complimentary ticket to that morning’s performance, which makes this volunteering opportunity very popular.

If you’re interested in supporting our Symphony during this series, contact Correne (correnemarie@gmail.com).

Philanthropy and Stewardship
Kent McNeil Vice-President

The Boutique officers are looking forward to an exciting season this year, with an enthusiastic list of volunteers and, as always, great concerts under the direction of David Robertson, as we celebrate his fabulous career as SLSO Music Director. The Boutique officers met this summer with Marketing Coordinator Rachel Sennett to discuss new merchandise that will be available for sale this fall. Volunteers will be starting their shifts on Saturday, September 23, with Mozart’s exuberant, Jupiter symphony. If you are attending a concert at Powell Hall, stop by and say hello to the volunteers at the Boutique. It’s always wonderful to receive the support of other SVA members. If you are interested in being added to our Boutique volunteer list, or if you wish to become a lead cashier, please contact either Jan Congdon (jzcogdon@gmail.com) or Linda Seibert (lindajseibert63@gmail.com).

Friends of the Symphony
On Thursday, September 14, at 9:30 am, the Friends Committee members will come together for their first of three meetings for this fiscal year to thank Friends-level donors for their contributions toward the FY17 Annual Campaign. Betsy Malinak, Senior Director, Individual Philanthropy, will provide a script and refreshments for the volunteers. This personal level of appreciation by committed volunteers has been shown to be very effective stewardship. The Symphony Office of Philanthropy is grateful for this SVA support.

Ambassadors now have 66 Committee Members. 11 members received Ambassador Training at the Centene Office in August. Most recently, our Ambassadors joined with Instrument Playground for a Tuesday Members Night at the Missouri Botanical Gardens on August 22. The visitors to the Gardens were very appreciative. Collaborating with the Missouri Botanical Gardens staff on a beautiful evening in the beautiful gardens was a pleasant experience for all.

The next Nine-Network “Night at the Symphony" Watch Party at our local retirement communities is scheduled for Monday, October 2. Ambassadors prepare for the program ahead of time and furnish a plate of cookies for refreshments while we watch the broadcast together, but our main purpose is share the experience of listening to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra with residents in the retirement centers. It’s really fun!

Much of the enjoyment of being an SVA Ambassador is the opportunity to spend time with each other and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Staff. We all learn from and enjoy each other. If you can, come join the fun!

Upcoming Events

Annual SLSO Forest Park Concert
Wednesday, September 13, 7:00 p.m.
Art Hill, Forest Park

Night at the Symphony Watch Parties
Monday, October 2, 7:00 p.m.
Various Retirement Homes

Fall Membership Meeting
Thursday, October 5, 6:00 p.m.
Meadowbrook Country Club
200 Meadowbrook Country Club Estates, Ballwin

Also, please join us for these additional Group Activities:

Norma Bellini Metropolitan Opera in HD
Saturday, October 7, 11:55
Chesterfield (AMC Chesterfield 14, 3000 Chesterfield Mall)
Columbia (Goodrich Forum 8, 1209 Forum Katy Pkwy)
Des Peres (Marcus Des Peres 14 Cine, 12701 Manchester Road)
(A separate invitation, including meal venues, is scheduled to be sent mid-September)

Open Rehearsal with Beethoven
David Robertson, and Amy Kaiser
Thursday, November 16
Laura (our perk source extraordinaire) received clearance to include the SVA in this 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.

Katia and Marielle Labèque, pianos
Sunday, January 28, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
“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
Featuring Stravinsky, Debussy, & Ravel
Washington University Great Artists Series
560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave, St. Louis, MO 63130
Special pre-concert talk and complimentary glass of wine for SVA members!