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Gala Weekend Gala Weekend proved to be a thrilling and moving tribute to David Robertson's tenure as Music Director and to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's 50 years at Powell Hall. From an SVA viewpoint, it was another terrific success and a feather in our cap. On Gala night, we provided over a dozen volunteers to assist with logistics of all kinds, from start to finish. As Gala organizer Kristin Lamprecht said, the "night would not have gone as well as it did without each of you. Many, many thanks to all of you." At the Brunch the next morning, where we again had over a dozen volunteers working, Board Chair Norm Eaker publicly lauded the SVA and thanked us for our efforts in support of the SLSO.

Membership Spring Luncheon  Our unbelievably talented Membership Committee, led by Phyllis Traub and Rebecca Gorski, created our third and final General Membership meeting of the year, the annual Spring Luncheon, held this year at the Westborough Country Club. What a wonderful way to end a wonderful year of membership events. Guest musician was Associate Principal Clarinet Diana Haskell, and guest speaker was newly named VP of Communications Vicki Boutwell. We had three exquisite events this year, and Membership deserves a huge thank you for their amazing accomplishments.  See more on the Membership Committee below.

What was new this year – With the classical season at an end, and only the Opera season and Summer at the Symphony ahead of us, it’s an opportune time to review the year's highlights, note what changed, and look ahead to next year. The bottom line: THANK YOU for your eye-wateringly strong, energetic, and enthusiastic support. It is well appreciated and highly valued by SLSO staff and leadership.

  • This year was the first time the orchestra's CEO met with an SVA committee, and we met with Marie-Hélène not once, but twice! Also a first, Board Chair Norm Eaker attended Winter Heat, spoke enthusiastically to our volunteers, and gave us all a Bread Company gift card to ring in the New Year!
  • Also of special note was the move of our base of operations from the Centene Arts Center for the Arts to Powell Hall. Thanks to three months of exhausting effort by our ad-hoc Relocation Committee, we successfully disposed of everything from Centene, donated some redundant equipment to other organizations, moved key supplies to Powell Hall, and stored the rest in a local storage unit. And we did it on time!
  • Led by our Advocacy Committee, we represented the SLSO and the arts in general in Jefferson City, meeting with 84 legislators in a six-hour period! Our efforts proved successful as SB773, which we advocated, passed the state Senate 32-0!
  • Along with hosting the Gala Brunch in April, our Ambassadors took on a new project as they supported the community concerts at Powell Hall. One highlight was a special Side-by-Side concert that celebrated the educators who teach music in our schools. Led by Resident Conductor Gemma New, music teachers played side by side with musicians of the SLSO. The concert was packed with enthusiastic patrons, giving the Ambassadors an opportunity to support SLSO staff by welcoming guests and answering questions both before and after the concert.
  • Our Boutique crew had a good year, marked by the arrival of the SLSO's new Gershwin CD, which sold very well. 
  • New (well, revived) this year was our Discovery Committee, tasked with finding new and expanded activities for the SVA, partly to fill the gap left by the retirement of Gypsy Caravan and partly to help emphasize our outreach and stewardship mandate. Discovery met with several staff members and is documenting its recommendations now.
  • Two of our signature education programs—Express the Music and Picture the Music—have already been extensively covered in previous News and Notes, but it's worth repeating that participation in ETM (691 entries) was up significantly from last year, reversing a recent trend, and PTM reached nearly 12,000 students and received 432 entries. A big year for these signature programs.
  • Instrument Playground, the third signature education program, is preparing to collaborate with the revamped Symphony in Your Schools program next year. Meanwhile, IP began the year with a special appearance at MOBOT and was a key component in January's Powell Hall open house in celebration of Powell’s 50th.
  • Our Friends committee amazingly handled a huge calling load, reaching out to thank donors for their contributions, answering questions, and encouraging them to visit Powell Hall.
  • I just can't say enough good things about our Membership Committees.
    • Regular Members is the committee responsible for our general membership meetings (as mentioned above).
    • New and Prospective follows up with people who express interest and makes sure that they are welcomed into the SVA. This year, we successfully enrolled 17 new members!
    • As always, One and Done was instrumental in working behind the scenes in almost every communication we received from Powell Hall as well as many other activities. (O&D is an ideal committee for new SVA members to join.)
    • You may not know that our Membership Engagement team has taken on the added task of acknowledging joy and sadness by sending cards to SVA members as appropriate.
    • You're reading this and our blurb in Playbill and enjoying the accompanying photos thanks to the Communications Committee.
    • Thanks also to the Directory Committee, which keeps your contact information current.
    • We had a small but active ad-hoc Powell 50th Committee that helped collect memorabilia for the wonderful exhibit at the Central Library. Thanks to everyone who contributed an artifact, whether it ended up in the exhibit or not.
    • Powell Hall Opportunities also had a busy year.
      • The Coffee Concerts were well attended, as usual, and our Coffee Concerts team was recognized for enabling the SLSO to accept the valuable donations of donuts and coffee that lure so many people to Powell Hall.
      • Our Tours team passed the baton to new leadership (thank you, Alan; welcome, Becky) and took on additional public tours for adults on a monthly basis as needed.
      • Our Youth Orchestra team expanded its support by providing snacks for the young musicians at three Powell Hall concerts (with the final concert to be held June 3), as well as supporting the annual auditions. We have high hopes for becoming even more closely engaged with the YO next year.
      • Our Education Ambassadors, who greet dozens of school buses for weekday education concerts, continued their post-concert bus location assistance, much to the glee of the teachers and drivers! (If you're ever available on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning, please consider joining this team and enjoy watching many of the children experience Powell Hall for the first time.)

Looking ahead – Your Executive Committee, with the help of the Discovery Committee, is looking into ways to expand the SVA's portfolio within our mission of support for the SLSO. In addition to the Discovery Committee's recommendations, some additional hopes for next year include:

  • Members' Handbook – creating a single source, probably online, that includes our by-laws, policies, organization chart, contact information, committee descriptions, staff contacts, and so forth.
  • Boutique – improving our ability to share and analyze data about inventory, sales, and finances so we can apply SVA members' extensive business experience to grow the Boutique.
  • Youth Orchestra – expanding SVA involvement with the YO as it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019-2020.
  • Advocacy – widening the focus from a single Advocacy Day to an ongoing effort to keep our legislators aware of the SLSO's contributions to their districts.
  • Special SVA Events – reinvigorating this team to work with Laura Dwyer to provide unique opportunities geared to SVA members.
  • Powell Hall Opportunities – adding concert host ambassadors to assist adult groups arriving in buses for Coffee Concerts and Holiday Concert.

So, stay tuned: next year promises to be another exciting year.

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


SVA Notes

Choose your Committee(s) It’s time to sign up for 2018-2019 committees, as most will begin scheduling kick-off meetings and timelines during the summer. Click here for committee descriptions and sign-up forms. Not only is this a good time to consider new committees, it’s also important to let committee chairs know whether you plan to be active on their committee in the coming year.

Welcome, New Committee Leaders – At our May general meeting, the SVA elected the following new leadership:

  • Membership:  Suzanne Mertens (replacing Rebecca Gorski, whose term has ended)
  • One and Done: Margaret Lahrmann, chair (replacing Elizabeth Crosby, who has generously agreed to take the lead on the Education Ambassadors team for next season)
  • Instrument Playground:  John Malvin, chair; Jim Schindler, vice-chair (John moves up from vice-chair, replacing Jim Dodds, whose term has ended.  Welcome to IP veteran Jim Schindler)
  • Advocacy: Patty Kaplan, chair (replacing outgoing chair Margaret Gilleo)
  • Nominating:  Janice Seele (replacing outgoing chair Penny Bari for our important bi-annual nominations marathon)

Membership – Kudos to our "May team" who worked so hard arranging the final luncheon: Barb Ferman, Margie Franz, Elizabeth Hahn, Anna Lea Kerckhoff, and Linda Seibert.  Many thanks to the entire Membership Committee for their enthusiasm, participation, and creativity throughout the year as well as to Liz Halpin and Laura Dwyer for their leadership and guidance.  Last but certainly not least, special thanks to Chair Phyllis Traub and Vice Chair Rebecca Gorski, computer guru and sounding board.  Membership Committee is an active group of dedicated SVA members.  Won't you consider joining them next year?

Youth Orchestra – Youth Orchestra volunteers worked hard to provide service and side dishes for the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra's pre-concert lunch on March 4th.  Those volunteers who stayed for the concert were part of a sold-out audience who were treated to another top-notch performance by our young musicians!

Youth Orchestra volunteers assisted with the preliminary auditions held April 16th & 17th at Ladue High School.  The preliminary auditions in April will be followed by the final auditions at Powell Hall in June.

Capping off the season will be the June 3 concert, which features the Youth Orchestra's concerto competition winner, a very talented violist!  Once again, we will be asking volunteers to help out with the pre-concert lunch.

Looking forward, the Youth Orchestra has a very special anniversary to celebrate (50 years!) in the 2019/2020 season, so Youth Orchestra volunteers can anticipate helping out with that landmark celebration.

Name Tags – Many of you volunteer in positions where wearing your SVA name tag is important. If you’ve lost yours and would like another, please send a note to Laura Dwyer asking for a replacement. Name tags are $10. Mail a check (made out to SVA, with "name tag" in the memo line) to: Laura Dwyer, 718 N Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103. Laura will leave your name tag at the guard desk (Delmar side of Powell Hall), where you can pick it up before your next volunteer shift. (Note: Name tags take at least two weeks to produce.)