Top Stories

CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard lauds SVA – Early February saw incoming Music Director Stéphane Denève's first visit to St. Louis since being tapped to replace David Robertson. Among the meetings and events he attended was an SLSO Board Meeting, at which CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard made a point of recognizing the SVA and thanking us for our contributions. She cited as recent examples our Community Programs outreach on January 12 (Ambassadors) and our work at the Powell at 50 celebration on January 20 (Tours and Instrument Playground). Thank you for the good words, Marie-Hélène!

More SVA Plaudits – At a Discovery Committee meeting on February 1, Director of Institutional Philanthropy Julie Ferrie gave a big shout-out to our Coffee Concert Committee. She pointed out that Krispy Kreme’s huge donation of donuts, which makes these Friday morning concerts so popular, would be impossible without the SVA's help in distributing them. That we do so with a smile adds to the welcoming atmosphere and is much appreciated by the staff.

Gala Weekend Coming – The weekend of April 14-15 includes two events celebrating David Robertson's 13-year tenure and legacy with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The SVA will be helping with the black-tie gala on Saturday, April 14 (via One and Done), and hosting a celebratory brunch on Sunday, April 15. I encourage all SVA members to attend the brunch, which will honor David as we also mark the orchestra's 50 years at Powell Hall.

All the best,

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

SVA Notes

Membership Meeting
 – Save-the-Date for our annual May Membership Luncheon on Friday, May 11 at the Westborough Country Club. 

We've had two wonderful membership events, and our committee is busy finalizing plans for an equally exciting and delicious final program. Mark your calendars now! Watch for details soon. 

One and Done – Already a member of another committee or two? Don’t let that stop you from volunteering to become a member of One and Done. Why? Committee Chair Elizabeth Crosby can give you a whole list of reasons, starting with the fact that there is no long-term commitment!

Elizabeth explains that it’s quite simple: you get an email when an opportunity arises. If you’re interested, you respond. If you're not, just ignore the message!

Here’s a short sample of some recent opportunities where One and Done members had fun while simultaneously supporting the SLSO:

  • Rode the coffee concert shuttle from the St Louis County Library at Frontenac. (For every coffee concert, volunteers work with a retired SLSO musician, making sure everyone riding the shuttle is accounted for.) The great perks: a free ride to the symphony, free concert ticket, and an awesome experience.
  • Helped with a free community concert presented by SLSO musicians (and received reserved seating for the event).
  • Helped prepare the mailing of Gala invitations. (Priceless perk: lots of laughter!)

Consider adding your name to the One and Done roster to join the team and receive emails about all the fun activities available.

Education and Community Programs

Express the Music – The 2018 Express the Music finalists and cash prize winners were honored during intermission at the March 4 St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concert.

Participation was up markedly this year. Seventy-six teachers from 59 schools submitted 691 entries from their students. Each of those entries was read by three separate reviewers. The 63 finalists were selected by tallying the scores from those 2,073 evaluations. (That’s a lot of reading!) Two teams of final judges, composed of published authors and editors, read the finalists’ compositions and picked the three top winners in each category.

The cash prize winners came from 11 Missouri and Illinois middle and high schools: Hixson Lutheran School, Lafayette High School, Lindbergh High School, Messiah Lutheran School, Parkway North High School, Parkway South High School, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque School, Twin Oaks Middle School, Villa Duchesne, and Wydown Middle School.

Terry Gates, Express the Music Chair, sends a huge thank you to the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Corporation for sponsoring this year’s ETM program, as well as to the over two dozen committee members who worked to make the event a success. (Members recruited teachers, checked addresses, recorded data, processed entries, read prose and poetry compositions, and helped in many other ways.) Terry noted that without our sponsor, the SLSO staff, and SVA volunteers, Express the Music would not be possible.

Picture the Music – Imagine nearly 12,000 students listening to a piece of music and then illustrating what they heard. Now imagine looking at 432 fascinating pieces of artwork and trying to choose only 100 of them to receive public recognition. That’s the delight and dilemma six SVA members went through recently as they served as judges for the 2018 Picture the Music program.

On February 26, the 100 finalists (who came from 36 of the 67 participating schools), their teachers, parents, and friends gathered at Powell Hall for the annual awards ceremony. Sixty-six of the finalists were recognized as having earned special recognition, and 25 students’ artwork earned blue ribbons. One student from each grade (K-6) was given a St. Louis Symphony Award for the top picture in their grade, and two surprised and delighted students (one from K-3 and one from grades 4-6) won the Maestro Awards. (All non-finalists had already received a Certificate of Merit.)

Congratulations to our Maestro Winners:

Grades K - 3 | Jack Rolfes, Dardenne Elementary School
The Fastest Runner

Grades 4 - 6 | Danny Kline, St. Ambrose Catholic School - Godfrey IL
Expressive Rings

The top 100 pictures are now on exhibit for public viewing:

Mar 12 – Mar 19     Schlafly Library
Mar 19 – Apr 04     The Magic House
Apr 04 – Apr 16      Frontenac Plaza

In early May, the two Maestro pieces will be hung by the elevator on the main floor in Powell Hall, replacing the 2017 Maestro pieces currently hanging there.

Powell Hall Tours – After over a decade of service as the SVA’s Tours Team Lead, Alan Fiddleman has handed the leadership role over to Becky Brown, a past SVA President and experienced tour guide. Alan will remain on the Tours team, not only as a valued and knowledgeable tour guide, but also as a consultant and advisor.

Under Alan’s leadership, Powell Hall Tours became a hallmark service of the SVA, appreciated by students, teachers, and patrons alike. Alan brought organization, information, and passion to his role as Team Lead, establishing a pattern that has become our standard in tours presentations.

Our heartfelt thanks to Alan for his great work as Tour Lead and for his strong, long-time support of the SLSO.

Philanthropy and Stewardship

Ambassadors – In February, Ambassadors were hosts at a special Side by Side concert at Powell Hall 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.

Next up on their agenda is the March 23 Equal Play concert at Powell Hall. Women from the SLSO will play music written by women composers. Included on the program are works by composer Kristin Kuster, who will be present to introduce her pieces. Please contact Sara Fabick if you are available to volunteer that evening. (We need a Lead and up to 10 Ambassadors.)

Another important assignment on the horizon is hosting the April 15 Champagne Brunch honoring David Robertson. The brunch will be from noon until 2:00pm in the Pavilion Tent set up on Delmar Blvd. Ambassadors will be greeters, work at check-in, and manage other tasks that may arise. An important part of the assignment will be to encourage our family, friends, and other SVA members to attend this celebratory event. (Ambassadors will need to purchase tickets for the brunch but will receive complimentary seats for that afternoon's concert.)

The SVA continues to serve the SLSO in many important ways, and our Ambassadors play a key role in helping “enrich peoples’ lives through the power of music.”

Advocacy Day  In early February, 10 people representing the SLSO traveled to Jefferson City to meet with legislators for Missouri Citizens for the Arts Day. Spearheaded by SLSO staff members Laura Dwyer and Travis Estes, our group consisted of very energetic and capable SVA volunteers Gary Godwin, Patty Kaplan, Kent McNeil, Correne Murphy, Robin Paone, Janice Seele, Bill Whitson, and Margaret Gilleo.

We met with 84 state senators and representatives in less than six hours at the Capitol! In addition, we left information packets with the legislative assistants of those legislators who were unavailable. (Volunteers Ginger Mulanax and Chuck Guenther had prepared the packets for us.)

Last year, the SLSO received $103,000 from the state of Missouri. We’re hopeful that, in spite of budget cuts, the orchestra will receive the same amount this year. (One of the items on our agenda was a request to legislators that the Missouri Arts Council Trust’s 60% share of the Non-Resident Athletes & Entertainers Tax, which is due to expire in 2020, be extended to 2030. In late February, the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted for this extension, due in no small part to the efforts of the many volunteers at Citizens for the Arts Day.)

Thank you to all who worked to make this day a success—including the Regional Arts Commission, who supplied the bus that took us to Jefferson City.

Boutique – With spring just around the corner (honest), and gray days heading to sun-filled ones, it’s a good time to think about becoming a Boutique volunteer for the 2018-2019 season.

Volunteering for the Boutique is a unique and fun opportunity. Need more specific enticements? For one, our merchandise choices are appealing and sell well. In addition, you get to work with other Boutique volunteers (three work at each concert), chat with concert-goers, and receive free concert tickets.

Later this spring, you’ll have a chance to sign up for next year. In the meantime, if you have questions, or if you’re already a Boutique volunteer and are interested in training to be a lead cashier, contact Jan Congdon at 203-536-0883 or

Discovery Committee – We are in an exciting transition time.  Discovery Committee Chair Vi Steinmeyer reports that as a longtime member of the SVA, her knowledge of what the SLSO staff jobs entailed was next to nil.  Now, as Chair of the Discovery Committee, she is awed by the change our committee is experiencing in the relationship between us volunteers and the SLSO staff (and orchestra members).  In two meetings in February, our Discovery Committee got an inside look at the work of five staff members.  We shared a plate-full of ideas that we had generated, and gained further insights from the staff.  These two meetings reinforced the fact that our work as volunteers is highly appreciated.  At these meetings in February, listening and asking questions, it was affirmed that the orchestra, staff, and the SVA are a “family.”  In yet another first, at an earlier meeting between the Discovery Committee and Marie-Hélène Bernard, she expressed that one of the biggest jobs we have is to bring in and welcome others to Powell Hall and nurture them and each other.  We have a job to do, and as the Discovery Committee recommends changes to help us keep up with the times, we learn anew that the SVA is an important part of the orchestra family.