News and Notes - February 2019

A Note from the President

Happy New Year, Symphony Volunteers and Friends! Welcome to the first quarterly edition of News & Notes. Starting with this edition, News & Notes will provide a review of the SVA's accomplishments and initiatives over the previous three months, with a brief look-ahead to the next three months. We'll have many more photos than before, and an expanded opportunity to recognize the Committees and Teams for their contributions in support of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

You'll see that our year has started off with a bang! From welcoming our musicians and Music Director Designate Stéphane Denève (Discovery and Ambassadors) to ushering at the Jewel Box (One and Done) to supporting the Friday morning concerts (Coffee Concerts and Group Hosts), the SVA has been front and center. Thanks to these VPs and their amazing teams:

· Kent McNeil: Philanthropy and Stewardship

· Glenna Schindler: Education and Community Programs

· Liz Halpin: Membership

But what about upcoming events, you ask! Well, our weekly email to all SVA members encompasses both SLSO In The News and announcements of SVA activities and calls for action. That email is a much more timely and interactive mechanism than News & Notes for event planning purposes.

So enjoy our new News & Notes format, and please let Communications Chair Cathy Converse and me know about any questions, comments, or suggestions you might have.

All the best for the New Year.

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


We had a very successful Fall Membership meeting on October 4, 2018. 85 guests, including nine new SVA members, enjoyed a delicious dinner at the newly renovated Missouri Athletic Club West (photo below). We were treated to a wonderful musical performance by the duo ETHOS (Theo Bockhorst and Ethan Mayer), two talented members of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. In addition, SLSO staff members Maureen Byrne, Senior Director Education and Community Partnerships, and Jessica Ingraham, Director of Education, presented an informative update on their symphony activities. Mark your calendars now and plan to be with us at our Membership Brunch on Saturday, March 9 at Greenbriar Hills Country Club in Kirkwood followed by our final Spring Luncheon on Friday, May 10 at the St. Louis Club in Clayton.


New and Prospective
It was a busy fall for the New and Prospective Members team. In order to increase awareness and recruit new members, the team staffed Membership tables at the SLSO open rehearsals and sent personal emails to new 2017/2018 members inviting them to the seasonal membership meetings and Winter Heat. In December, they sent invitations to 35 new and prospective members for the welcome party held in the Met Bar in January.

In all, the team signed up 22 new members in 2018. Photo below shows N&P’s stalwart leaders Connie Wepfer and Jim Moore doing double duty at a Coffee Concert.

New and Prospective

One and Done
The season began with a fun event of staffing the phones on the set of the Nine Network during their membership drive. 16 of us participated (photo below).

One and Done 1

It was also a special event for Mary and John Parks who had decided that celebrating their 50th anniversary would be fun helping two organizations that they supported. They were surprised as they were featured as special volunteers on the program.

During the season, the volunteers have helped the SLSO staff with several mailings, a great way to get to know each other. We also helped the SLSO education team with their teacher workshops in the fall, for which they were extremely thankful.

One of our favorite tasks has been to host the Symphony Shuttle that takes patrons from County Library headquarters to and from Powell Hall for the Coffee Concerts. A retired SLSO musician joins the group on the bus and offers insight into the upcoming concert.

13 people helped at the concert Christmas with a Latin Flair, which was held at the Jewel Box on December 13. It was a rainy day, but the volunteers helped patrons enjoy the concert and the event go smoothly.

The holiday season has ended with 19 volunteers who were Santa’s helpers at the Mercy Holiday Celebration concerts during the weekend of December 21 at Powell Hall. Patrons could have their photo taken with Santa then receive a copy. So, this is a popular event. In addition, Santa’s reindeer, Prancer, made an appearance outside Powell Hall this year. Children and adults alike were excited to see a real reindeer and then took photos as a souvenir.

For the Fall, 45 volunteers staffed all these events for a total of 344 hours.

SVA Xmas


Youth Orchestra
SVA Youth Orchestra team members were busy this past November and December helping prepare and serve food not only for the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, but also for the high school members of the Holiday Festival Chorus. Thanks to the generosity and commitment of our volunteers, this past November our YO musicians hit the stage ready to perform following the pre-concert sandwiches accompanied by side dishes and desserts supplied by members of the YO team. Under the direction of Resident Conductor Gemma New, the YO delivered a high quality concert appreciated by the many patrons of all ages who attended. Photo below shows YO Team Lead Martha Duchild with our Laura Dwyer at the Edward Jones Charity Expo.

Youth Orchestra

Michelle Byrd, the SLSO's Holiday Festival Coordinator, expressed her gratitude for the YO team volunteers who, for the third year in a row, were called on to provide cookies for the high school singers after their concert rehearsal in December. As one of our YO volunteers attested, being a member of the YO team provides volunteers the opportunity to interact with the St. Louis area's young musicians and allows us to share in their youthful enthusiasm!  

Looking forward, the SVA's YO team will once again help with the pre-concert meal at the next YO concert, which takes place Saturday, March 23rd at 1:00 pm. If you have not had the opportunity to hear the YO perform, I strongly encourage you to attend their next concert. Additionally, plans are beginning to take shape for the YO's 50th anniversary year in 2019/2020 and YO team members can look forward to assisting in a variety of ways to help make this celebratory milestone memorable.

SVA Group Hosts
This newly-formed committee is off to a great start thanks to our dedicated SVA members who have volunteered to be part of this team! The mission of Group Hosts is to greet and assist patrons as they arrive and depart by bus or shuttle for the Friday morning coffee concerts and for the Mercy Holiday Celebration concert that took place Friday, December 21st. We are assisting SLSO Associate Director of Group Sales, Dawn Berkbigler, who has created excellent processes for us to follow. There have been at least two volunteers working each of the Friday morning coffee concerts and there were seven volunteers at the Mercy Holiday Celebration concert on December 21 (photo below: Sherry Moschner and Connie Bennett with Prancer the Reindeer at the Mercy Holiday Program). Up next are the three remaining coffee concerts for 2019.

SVA Group Hosts

Education Ambassadors
Education Ambassadors were in full force for the October Education concert. They greeted the busses full of young students and helped shepherd them into Powell Hall and, even more importantly, they helped the teachers find their busses in the parking lot when the concerts ended. Since there’s only a short time between the first and second concerts, this post-concert assistance is critical in allowing the second concert to begin on time.

The Education Ambassadors team still needs YOU! We are looking for hearty individuals to join our team outside for our next set of education concerts: Music Without Boundaries on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 9:30am & 11:00am and Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 9:30am & 11:00. We need people to assist the students, teachers and buses as they arrive and depart Powell Hall. These roles are vital to the success of the education concerts and the safety of the students. Both of these concerts are sold out, so we will be very busy! If you are interested, please contact Elizabeth Crosby at.


Powell Hall Tours
The SVA Powell Hall Tours Group started the new 2018/2019 season with a kickoff meeting for experienced and “shadow” tour guides in the Whitaker Room in late September. We reviewed our mission, past results and feedback from participant surveys, new draft training materials, guidelines for Education Concerts and public tours, and the tentative schedule of upcoming tour dates.

All the tour guides enjoy sharing the fascinating history and splendor of Powell Hall with tour participants. In September and October, 322 individuals were guests on our tours. No tours were scheduled in November and December due to the busy schedule of rehearsals and concerts. For 2019, we already have 14 tours scheduled through May. This includes two Education Concert tours, two LinkUp Concert tours, several public tours for various groups and individuals, and some special events for the SVA and the SLSO Education department. Our last tours for the season will conclude in June since Powell Hall will be scheduled for updates and planned maintenance for the remaining summer months.

The Tours group currently is comprised of 20 experienced and 15 “shadow” tour guides.  Our newest members are being mentored by our experienced guides who share helpful knowledge and past experiences with the newer participants.   If you are interested in learning more about the Powell Hall Tours Group, please contact Becky Brown, Group Leader at SVATours@slso.org.

Picture the Music
The Picture the Music committee is excited about this upcoming season. In order to lay the groundwork for a successful event with broad participation, we contacted schools and teachers to remind them of the deadlines. Artwork was due January 18 and 19th.

Express the Music
Express the Music's vice-chair Sharon Voss and the ETM recruitment committee completed a major update of our mailing list of area teachers in November. Sharon sent email reminders to over 500 teachers in December in preparation for a strong response for the January 18 postmark deadline for entries. Photos below: PTM and ETM, 2018.

Express the Music

Express the Music


“Discovery” has become somewhat synonymous with “spontaneous” for our Discovery Committee. Asked to host a “Welcome Back Brunch” for our SLSO musicians—a first as far as we can recall—members of our committee along with others in the SVA rose to the occasion in what was a very much appreciated and well-received brunch on September 20 as the musicians returned from their summer activities to prepare for a new season at Powell Hall. Held in the Musician’s Lounge, the musicians were treated to an assortment of treats and red “goodie cups” filled with Hershey Kisses, all attractively arranged on tables festooned with flowers and white tablecloths. “Welcome Back” balloon collections at the entry door added to the festivities and the entire event brought lots of smiles. First to arrive was Concertmaster David Halen. I think they got our message – “WELCOME BACK!”  We love our musicians!


Opportunity knocked again when a plan came together on somewhat short notice to host a special welcome to Stéphene Denève when he returned for the first time since being named Music Director to conduct the weekend of November 10-11. In an effort to make the weekend memorable for him and to demonstrate our city’s legendary friendliness, the Discovery Committee ordered welcome back “campaign” buttons with our SVA logo along with the words “Bienvenue, Stéphane!” SVA members and their guests attending the concerts were given a button to wear and a complimentary glass of champagne. Vice Chair Marjie Smith had the idea of presenting the Maestro with a bouquet of red carnations. It took a bit of “behind the scenes” planning, but soon Laura Dwyer, Marjie Smith (and Ken), and Vi Steinmeyer were upstairs in the anteroom where they presented Stèphane with the lovely bouquet and a beautiful SLSO card with welcoming words—and his very own button. He was delighted and we were warmly received by his kind words—and kisses. 


Ambassadors have a growing committee of 93 members. We had two successful training sessions in the fall and have added a tour of Powell Hall as part of the training program. Staff members Vicky Boutwell and Laura Dwyer are invaluable assets to the training program. Thank you to our in-house Ambassadors Gerry Frankenfeld and Libby Weinman who served as tour guides.

Ambassadors have collaborated closely with the Discovery Committee, which developed great activities for the SLSO Opening Weekend and the Bienvenue Stéphane Denève weekend (see above) and more. Generally Ambassadors furnish the volunteers as needed to carry out Discoveries’ plans to add to the festivities on special occasions for the SLSO, much to the appreciation of the SLSO staff!

To all SVA Committee Chairs and Team Leaders—Ambassadors are standing by ready to assist other committees as needed. Just give us a call!


The Friends Committee made over 1,000 Thank-A-Thon phone calls in the last three months of 2018. The ten volunteers report that the donors are pleasantly surprised by a personal phone call of thanks. Many calls reach answering machines where simple, cheery messages of thanks are delivered.  

However, it is the calls that are picked up by the donors that are the most rewarding. Donors are very appreciative of receiving the short thank you calls, some saying that the call made their day, others volunteering that they are looking forward to the next weekend's concert or had just enjoyed the last. Some calls have even become fun, mutual admiration conversations about the SLSO itself. One of the best outcomes of the thank you calls was a request to join the SVA by a donor who had not yet heard of the association, but was impressed that we were making calls on behalf of the SLSO.

The Boutique team is excited to be working with Laura Dwyer and the SLSO Marketing Department to investigate new products to stock in the Boutique. Some recent new necklaces and bracelets have been quickly reordered because of brisk sales, scarves continue to be popular, and we’re looking at other items to expand our offerings. Stop by to say hello and watch for our spring additions.


We hope you enjoyed this first expanded News and Notes. If you have any suggestions for future editions, please let us know at SVACommunications@SLSO.org.