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The upcoming 2018/2019 season promises to be an exciting one for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the SVA.  Preparations will be underway for two major events in 19/20: the official arrival of Stéphane Denève as our Music Director, and the celebration of the Youth Orchestra’s 50th anniversary.  Our SVA is planning to be closely involved with those events plus many others throughout the year as part of our implementation of the recommendations of our Discovery Committee.

We have already created two new teams to support these ideas (see also Plans for 18/19, below).  Our Celebrations Team (under our Ambassadors Committee) will participate in the festivities surrounding the beginning of the season, especially the first subscription concert.  Our Group Hosts Team (under our Powell Hall Opportunities Committee) will assist with greeting and welcoming groups arriving by bus for Coffee Concerts, Holiday Concerts, and other special events.  Our existing Youth Orchestra Team will expand its efforts in anticipation of the YO’s 50th anniversary.  If you would like to lead or participate in these new opportunities, please let me know.

Meanwhile, the SVA VPs, Chairs, and Team Leads are planning for another wonderful season in support of the SLSO, and in some cases (e.g, PTM) have already begun the year’s activities.  Laura Dwyer is performing in the Colorado Music Festival this summer and will then join her husband Chris in Sun Valley, ID, as he is part of the SLSO contingent that populates that orchestra each summer. Laura will return about August 22.  While Laura will be available via phone and email, please note that her response may be delayed due to her rehearsal and performance schedule.

Next, please remember that your renewing gift to the Annual Campaign of $75 or more was due by June 30. If you have not yet renewed with your donation to the Annual fund, you can click here to make your donation online. And remember, if you contribute by July 27, you can take advantage of the Neidorff-Centene Challenge.

If you have not yet turned in your committee preferences for 18/19, please click here to access the SVA web page, even if you’ve already been involved with specific committees. Scroll down to the Membership section, where you can click to all sorts of information about committee options.  Also in the Membership section, note the planned General Meeting dates for 18/19.  We want to be sure to include you in all we do next season!

I am excited to serve as your president for another year.  Have a wonderful summer!

All the best,
Jeff Kaplan
President, Symphony Volunteer Association

SVA "By The Numbers" for 2017/2018

In May, News & Notes contained a summary of accomplishments by our various committees, new and old. Although we still have two months to go in our fiscal year, this seems to be a good time to share some key statistics to measure our tangible contributions toward our goal of providing a means for individuals to support and advance the mission of the SLSO to enrich lives through the power of music.

It is true that our contribution is, in large measure, intangible, like greeting patrons with a smile and a donut on Friday mornings, or showing people the wonders of Powell Hall during a tour.  Nevertheless, it can be enlightening to look at some numbers that can be a gauge of our success.

So here, in alphabetical order, are our numbers through April:

Advocacy – 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!  We continue to lobby for and monitor the progress of the bill to extend the Non-Resident Entertainers and Athletes Tax.  Advocacy by the numbers:

  • 254 volunteer hours
  • 84 legislator/staff meetings

Ambassadors – Along with hosting the Gala Brunch in April, our Ambassadors took on a new project as they supported Community Concerts at Powell Hall.  Ambassadors by the numbers:

  • 433 volunteer hours
  • 66 committee members

Boutique – The SLSO Boutique expanded its volunteer staff and its inventory this year, and it showed good results even as we work to continue to improve our coordination with the symphony staff.  Boutique by the numbers:

  • Over 1,075 volunteer hours
  • Over 40 volunteers
  • 80 concerts
  • Special events in December

Coffee Concerts – 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.  Coffee Concerts by the numbers:

  • 482 volunteer hours
  • 8 concerts
  • 15-17 volunteers per concert
  • 37 committee members
  • About 16,000 donuts served with a smile!

Communications – Without our Communications Committee, you would not ever see a "News and Notes," a Playbill article about the SVA, or photos of SVA events.  They did a wonderful job of publicizing the SVA again this year.  Communications by the numbers:

  • 116 volunteer hours
  • 9 Playbill articles
  • 10 News and Notes newsletters

Education Ambassadors (formerly Bus Hosts) – Our Education Ambassadors, who greet dozens of school buses for weekday education concerts, continued its post-concert bus location assistance, much to the relief of the teachers and drivers!  Education Ambassadors by the numbers:

  • 310 volunteer hours
  • 268 schools, many with multiple buses
  • 19,085 students and teachers

Express the Music – Like PTM, ETM had a banner year. Participation in ETM was up markedly this year. Three separate reviewers read each entry.  ETM by the numbers:

  • 1014 volunteer hours
  • 2017 student participants
  • 718 entries submitted by 78 teachers from 59 schools
  • 2154 total reviews, yielding 63 finalists

Friends – Our Friends Committee handled a huge calling load, reaching out to thank donors for their contributions, answering questions, and encouraging them to visit Powell Hall.  Friends by the numbers:

  • 130 volunteer hours
  • 2480 thank-you calls!

Instrument Playground – Despite the fact that the number of schools visited by IP was down this year as the Symphony In Your School program is revamped, IP touched about 1,900 students in 13 events this year, helping them to handle real instruments and try to make a musical sound.  IP by the numbers:

  • About 380 volunteer hours
  • 4 schools
  • 4 Family Concerts
  • 2 MOBOT events
  • 2 Early Childhood concerts
  • Powell Hall 50th Anniversary Open House on January 20, 2018

New and Prospective – 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 and expanded N&P's involvement as they became active in the SVA.  N&P by the numbers:

  • 170 volunteer hours
  • 22 new SVA members
  • 13 new members experienced the first new members' tours

One and Done – 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. Key among these were the Gala invitations and CDs.  (O&D is an ideal committee for new SVA members to join.)  One and Done by the numbers:

  • Over 700 volunteer hours
  • 83 committee members

Picture the Music – Close to 12,000 students took part, from 67 schools (about 180 per school).  Of those 12,000, their teachers submitted 432 entries to be judged by our PTM volunteers, who chose 100 winning entries to be displayed at Powell Hall and on tour throughout the region.  The two Maestro Winners' entries are on display at Powell Hall, just around the corner from the foyer, until May of next year. PTM by the numbers:

  • 1387 volunteer hours
  • 12,000 students touched by the music
  • 100 pictures displayed
  • 67 Special Recognition awards
  • 25 Blue Ribbons
  • 6 St. Louis Symphony awards
  • 2 Maestro Winners

Regular Members – The mission of our Regular Members Committee is to keep our membership enthusiastic and engaged by, among other tasks, planning and running our three annual general membership meetings.  This year's were a monumental success.  Regular Members by the numbers:

  • 536 volunteer hours
  • 3 events with total attendance of 260
  • 112 distinct individuals (about 30% of SVA membership) attended at least one general meeting
  • 42 members attended all three events!

Tours – The Tours Team expanded its portfolio this year, as it took on additional public tours for adults on a monthly basis as needed.  Tours by the numbers:

  • About 320 volunteer hours
  • 27 trained tour guides
  • 19 tours conducted October 2017 – June 2018
    • 7 Education Tours
    • 5 Powell Hall Events Tours
    • 7 Public Tours
    • Approximately 1500 tour participants

Youth Orchestra – Our Youth Orchestra Team also expanded its portfolio this year by adding hosting support during YO dress rehearsals and concerts. This included bringing desserts and side dishes for the pre-concert meals (to complement the sandwiches donated by Whole Foods), setting up for the meal, and helping serve and clean up.  The YO Team also brought desserts for the High School Concert Choir's holiday concert rehearsal as well as for the YO's side-by-side rehearsal luncheon with SLSO members in March.  As the YO approaches its 50th anniversary, the SVA's YO team is poised to play a significant role in the celebration.  YO by the numbers:

  • 265 volunteer hours
  • 39 volunteers
  • 3 YO concerts, playing to a sold-out Powell Hall
  • 16 shifts at 2 hours per shift for 2 days to help 189 young musicians at their preliminary auditions
  • 10 shifts at 3 hours per shift for 5 days to help the 80 musicians returning for final auditions

Plans for 2018/2019

As mentioned at the top, we have a few initiatives coming out of the Discovery Committee that we can announce now, and others in the planning stages, so stay tuned.  It should be an exciting year.  Here's what's new so far:

  • Celebrations Team – this sub-group of our Ambassadors Committee will play a big role in the events surrounding the opening concert (Gemma New conducting, September 22, 23), including co-hosting the champagne toasts.

  • Group Hosts – another Ambassadorial outgrowth will be the greeting of groups for special events like Holiday Concerts.  This is still in the planning stages and may include riding the buses with the groups and discussing the upcoming concert or answering questions about the SLSO.  Again, stay tuned.

  • Signature Program Histories – prompted by table conversations at our May general membership meeting, we are about to embark on a project to document the histories (origins, early experiences, evolution to present day) of our three signature programs:  Instrument Playground, Picture the Music, and Express the Music, plus others that are part of our past.  This year, we will begin gathering that history, so please let me know if you were part of the early days of any of our programs and would like to contribute to the chronicle.

General SVA Notes

We are all Ambassadors – From past president and current Ambassador Chair Sara Fabick:  As our Ambassadors attend On Stage Concerts, Community Concerts, Family Concerts, Special Receptions, and more, we can begin to see the bigger picture of the depth of the outreach of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  “The more you know – the more you know!”  And as Ambassadors begin spending more time in Powell Hall, meeting musicians, greeting and helping patrons, and hearing wonderful music in beautiful Powell Hall and beyond, they are in a great position to speak to their family, friends, and neighbors about the wonders of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  AND ALL SVA members are Ambassadors!

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.

Photographers Needed! One of the key responsibilities of our Communications Committee is to capture SVA events photographically.  Our Photography Team lead, Pam Belloli, is in need of people with digital cameras or smart phones who can take photos and upload them to the SVA's Flickr account.  It's great fun, and you get to see your work in our publications and slide shows.  If you're interested, please email


Our Membership Committee is already working on our General Membership events for next year.  The following dates are still tentative, but they're looking pretty good, so please mark your calendars:

  • Fall Dinner:  Thursday, October 4, 2018
  • Winter Heat:  Friday, January 11, 2019
  • Winter Brunch:  Saturday, March 9, 2019
  • Spring Luncheon:  Friday, May 10, 2019

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.