News and Notes - May 2019

Notes from the President, May, 2019

Hail and Farewell, Volunteers!

This is my final News and Notes as your SVA President. It’s been a tremendous honor to serve as your President for the past two years. Thanks for putting up with me, and for continuing the valuable (and pleasurable) work you do to help support our Orchestra.

I have learned a lot in the last two years about both the SVA and the SLSO, and I’ve been amazed and impressed by the passion, commitment and energy I’ve seen. Being part of the SLSO Board of Trustees for two years increased my understanding of what it takes to make a symphony of this caliber thrive. It was eye-opening and inspiring to see first-hand the level of commitment and the tremendous contribution, in both money and time, that the Board members give. I was thrilled that the Board members, up to and including President and CEO Marie-Helene Bernard and Board Chair Norm Eaker, value and respect the SVA at such a high level, and to see them demonstrate that respect by attending and even speaking at our events.

Getting to work with members of the staff has opened my eyes to the skill and planning it takes to present the music that we sometimes take for granted. In the same way, being clued in to all of the SVA committees has reinforced my impression of the extent to which the SVA supports the Symphony, and has given me the opportunity to get to know so many members I didn’t know before.

And I’m hugely grateful for the immense pleasure and privilege of working so closely for two years with our amazing Associate Director of Volunteer Programs, Laura Dwyer. Laura’s kindness, capability, and passion for both the music and the SVA are boundless, and working with her has been an inspiration.


I’m excited about the new SVA Board that will take office on May 10th (see below). Nominating Committee Chair Janice Seele and her talented (and persuasive) committee members have assembled an extremely strong SVA leadership team to guide us into the Denève era. Next year will get off to a fast start as we welcome our new Music Director as only the SVA can, and the pace will get even faster as we participate in the celebration of the Youth Orchestra’s 50th anniversary. What a terrific season to be a full-tilt SVA participant!

I was very pleased to introduce Phyllis Traub as our President-elect at our General Meeting on March 9th, and I’m sure that Phyllis will find the same excitement and pleasure in the role of president that I have experienced. I plan to support her in every way I can to help make this organization stronger and to support the STL Symphony in enriching lives through the power of music, and I hope you will, too, by actively participating in the SVA’s many and varied projects.

All the best, and all my thanks,


Welcome to the 2019-2021 SVA Board

The following dedicated SVA Board members have been elected to the SVA board of 2019-2021 and bring to their positions a wealth of talents and experiences. Please be sure to give each of them your full support and thanks for their commitment.

Executive Committee
President - Phyllis Traub
VP, Education - Kent McNeil
VP, Philanthropy & Stewardship - Debbie Dillon
VP, Membership - Connie Wepfer
Secretary - Elizabeth Crosby
By-Laws - Jean Saunders

Chair, Express the Music - Glenna Schindler
Vice Chair, Express the Music - Liz Halpin
Chair Instrument Playground - John Malvin (second year of two-year term)
Vice Chair, Instrument Playground - Jim Schindler (second year of two-year term)
Chair, Picture the Music - Sherry Moschner
Vice Chair, Picture the Music - Debbie Miali
Chair, Powell Hall Opportunities - Nancy Reycraft
Vice Chair, Powell Hall Opportunities - Karen Dirks

Philanthropy and Stewardship
Chair, Advocacy - Patty Kaplan (second year of two-year term)
Vice Chair, Advocacy - Mark Mittleman
Chair, Ambassadors - Ray Simon
Vice Chair, Ambassadors - Vi Steinmeyer
Chair, Boutique - Jim Moore
Vice Chair, Boutique - David Sperber
Chair, Discovery - Mary Parks
Vice Chair, Discovery - Correne Murphy
Chair, Friends - Jamie Spencer
Vice Chair, Friends - Sara Fabick

Chair, Communications - Jeff Kaplan
Chair, Meetings and Events - Judy Brown-Rowden
Vice Chair, Meetings and Events - Susanne Mertens (second year of two-year term)
Chair, New & Prospective Members - Susan Seibel
Vice Chair, New & Prospective Members - Elizabeth Hahn
Chair, One & Done - Margaret Lahrmann (2nd year of two-year term)

Membership Basics


The Directory is posted online via the SVA page of the SLSO web site. Printed directories are available only by special request from Laura Dwyer. As always, please contact Directory Team Leader Susan Pribble with any changes to your information throughout the year at so that we can keep your information current and make sure that you don’t miss out on any news or events.

SVA Web Page

A great way to stay informed is via the SVA web page. To access the wealth of information found on the SVA Page, click the link in this paragraph, or go to Hover over “Support” at the top of the screen and select “Volunteer” from pull-down menu. The web page is a great place to keep up-to-date and you are encouraged to “click around” to your hearts’ content.

Name Tags

Many of you volunteer in positions where your SVA nametag is very important. If you have lost yours and would like another, or if you haven’t received one yet, please send a note to Laura Dwyer requesting a nametag. Nametags are $10, payable with a check made out to the SLSO, with "nametag" in the memo line, and mailed to Laura at Powell Hall. She will make your nametag available for easy pick up at the guard desk (Delmar side of Powell Hall) as soon as it arrives. Note: Nametags take two weeks to produce.

Membership Renewals

If you have not yet extended your Friend Of The Symphony status with a renewal gift of $75 or more, please do so by June 30. Your gift to the Annual Fund by June 30 will assist our Membership Committee tremendously, allowing your fellow volunteers time to update records and committees towards the goal of producing an accurate directory committee listing at the start of our program year, which begins September 1.

Education News

Picture the Music

Picture the Music is an educational program for students Kindergarten through 6th grade. This was the 29th year for this free art competition, which consists of students listening to a piece of music provided by the SLSO, and then drawing their impressions.

In recent years, the musical selection has been a piece that the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs at the first (fall) Family Concert. The teachers are notified of the selection early fall.

In many schools the art teacher and music teacher work together on this program. The teachers share information about the composer and the musical selection with their students.

This year the students listened to Manuel de Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance. Seventy schools in the bi-state area submitted entries. 12,453 students participated. After students complete their work, it is the teachers’ difficult task to choose the ones to be submitted, with a limit of seven per school. Each piece of art has a label on the back with the student’s name, school, grade and title of their work. This year, 436 pieces of art were presented for judging.

The artwork is sorted by grade for our judges to choose the top 100. Our seven judges included retired art professors and teachers as well as directors and owners of art galleries and museums. Artwork is laid in groups on the floor so the judges can walk among them, getting a better look at each one. The judges choose the top 100 entries with proportional representation from each grade, plus two Maestro prizes: Kindergarten-3rd grade, and 4th – 6th grade. After the two Maestro pieces are chosen, the judges choose one piece from each grade to receive the St. Louis Symphony award. The amazing judges then walk through the remaining 91 pieces of artwork and each make their choice for the 25 blue ribbon winners. The remaining 66 are our special recognition winners.


After judging is complete, the top 100 are framed for display at the awards ceremony and then for the traveling exhibit, after which they are returned to the young artists. The two Maestro winners’ works have the honor of hanging on display in Powell Hall for a year.

We are very grateful to the judges who give their valuable time to judge. The judges listen to the same music before judging. They have no idea who the student is or what school is being represented by the artwork.


All 436 students who have their artwork submitted are given a certificate. The 100 finalists, their parents, teachers and principals are invited to an awards ceremony at Powell Hall. The finalists receive their awards on the stage at Powell Hall, but they are not told in advance how they placed. The awards are presented to the top 100 by the SVA President and a representative from our sponsor, the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Corporation. We present 66 special recognition certificates and 25 blue ribbon certificates. There are seven (one from each grade) who receive a certificate, a St. Louis Symphony Award (red ribbon) and a medal with their names on it. The two Maestro winners receive a certificate as well as a medal with their names on it.

We recognize not only the students at the awards ceremony but also the teachers who give a lot of time to this program, and the judges, without whom we could not have this program.

These young students are our future. It will be fun to watch for their names to appear in future accomplishments. They will help others understand and appreciate art and music.

Powell Hall Tours

The first quarter of 2019 has been busy for the Powell Hall Tours volunteers. Now comprised of 36 members (21 experienced and 15 “shadow” guides), we continue to welcome SVA members who wish to share their enthusiasm and love of beautiful Powell Hall and its history. The Tours group escorted 364 individuals from 13 different groups during this period. We welcomed groups such as the Junior League Sustainers, Barry Wehmiller Company, International Spouses Group, RAC/Springboard CANVASS Project, and several families. Over 170 elementary students also participated in tours following two Education Concerts in February.

The 2018/19 Tours season will close in June. Eleven groups are currently scheduled for tours on four different dates in April and June. Following planned maintenance and updates to Powell Hall in July and August, a new Tours season will kick off in September. For additional information about volunteering with this group, please contact Becky Brown, Group Leader, at

Express the Music


The Express The Music program, supported by the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Corporation, invited 6th through 12th grade students across the bi-state region to create stories or poems in response to music provided online. Over 2,300 middle and high school students participated in the program, this year basing their writings on the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. Teachers submitted 660 works to this year's competition. On February 2nd, 36 of our SVA judges evaluated the entries, selecting 75 finalists. Twelve of these were chosen as cash prize winners by two additional panels of expert judges. Awards and a publication of the finalists' work were presented on March 23, during a concert of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Instrument Playground


The 2018/19 Instrument Playground has had a fun and exciting year. We began the year at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and ended at the March 24 Family Concert, with many events in between. Instrument Playground brought out the instruments for three family concerts. The kids at these concerts are always so much fun. At the February Family Concert, our new Music Director Stéphane Denève came out to meet some of the children. Also at the February Family Concert, IP was excited to display our instruments to a group of 15 refugee girls from Syria. They were all dressed up as Cinderella and seemed to really enjoy our presentation. Instrument Playground traveled to three schools in February and March. Our program was presented at Mullanphy ILC Elementary, Life Academy, and Walbridge STEAM Academy. We closed our season with the final Family Concert. We worked with hundreds of children during the season. We welcomed three new IP members this season, and we’re eager to welcome many more. We are proud of the work that was accomplished by IP and we all look forward to our next season.

Youth Orchestra

The Youth Orchestra team was busy this quarter helping to keep our SLSYO musicians energized and ready to deliver the high quality performances audiences have come to expect from the orchestra and its dynamic director, Gemma New. At the February 16th rehearsal, the YO team brought desserts to complement the lunch shared by YO musicians and members of the SLSO after their side-by-side rehearsal. Making this a memorable and inspiring event for all was the participation of our Music Director Designate, Stephane Denève, who provided valuable musical insight to our young musicians.


More nourishment was the order of the day as volunteers provided side dishes and desserts for YO musicians prior to their March 23rd concert, which featured a fantastic performance of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. As can be seen in the pictures, it takes a lot of food to keep these musicians concert-ready. Rounding out the month of March, YO volunteers helped sort and distribute the YO t-shirts after the orchestra's March 30th rehearsal. What better way to advertise this wonderful group and encourage young musicians to audition than to have YO members proudly wear their SLSYO apparel!


Looking forward to the next quarter, the YO team will be assisting YO manager Samantha Sachtleben as she holds preliminary auditions for the YO on April 15th & 17th. Following that, the YO's final concert of the season takes place May 26th at 3:00 PM, and once again our volunteers will be providing side dishes and desserts for the pre-concert meal. YO patrons can look forward to another great YO concert at a bargain price, featuring Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Closing out the quarter, YO volunteers will be assisting at the orchestra's final auditions, which take place June 10th-20th.

Group Hosts

The Group Host Committee is comprised of a small but mighty group of wonderful volunteers who braved wintry weather to greet patrons from senior living facilities as they arrived via bus and van for the January and February Friday morning coffee concerts. Volunteers were on duty again for the March and April coffee concerts, and the weather on those dates made for pleasant mornings. Participating as a Group Host is a wonderful way to welcome SLSO patrons as they arrive and depart from the coffee concerts. Group Hosts will be on duty for the final coffee concert of the year on May 3rd. New volunteers are welcome to join us for the 2019-2020 season.

Philanthropy and Stewardship News


The Ambassadors Committee continues to grow in numbers and we are always seeking more ways we can be helpful to the SLSO.

Ambassadors are part of the volunteer force for the Discovery Committee. Discovery creates projects and Ambassadors serve as volunteers as needed to help make it happen. Being a part of the exciting Bienvenue Stéphane Denève! was a highlight of the season for the Ambassador Committee.


We welcome guests at various receptions in Powell Hall such as On Stage Concerts and more. Our most recent event was the Grandparents’ and Grandchildren’s Reception in the Whitaker Room following the Carnival of the Animals Family Concert, which was a lovely experience for all who attended. We have various assignments at all Family Concerts.

Ambassadors are in the business of helping patrons feel welcome and comfortable at all SLSO events. We are good at what we do, so don’t hesitate to request Ambassadors to help your committees as needed.


The SVA boasts a large Advocacy team of almost 30 members. Of these, eleven were able to travel to Jefferson City on Wednesday, February 6th to advocate for the arts as part of “Citizens for the Arts Day at the Missouri Legislature.” We had the largest delegation from the St. Louis Area, and by all accounts, we were the most prepared, with a concise, well-produced fact sheet and flash cards to hand out.

We had 83 individual appointments set for legislative meetings that day. As happened in years past, some of those meetings were cancelled on the spot because our legislators had other conflicting meetings come up or because they needed to be in session. (It happened that there was a lot of activity on the floor that day about the opioid crisis in Missouri.) In those cases where our appointments were cancelled, we spoke with the legislative assistants and left our material with them. We personally delivered our two written information sheets to EVERY legislative office: 197 Senators and Representatives.


Accomplishment is especially difficult to measure this year, because there is no legislation up for a vote. Many of us felt that we were able to enthusiastically communicate our message of requesting support for the arts to our legislators. Specifically, we focused on asking that the Missouri Legislature fully fund the Missouri Arts Council through the existing statute regarding the Non-Resident Professional Athletes and Entertainers Tax (A&E Tax). Based on current revenue, the 60% requirement would result in more than $21.6 million dedicated to Missouri Arts Council. Realistically, with Missouri revenue down this year, that would be a huge jump: too high to achieve in one step, but we made the request in person, we got the attention of the arts community and the legislators, and we continued to build strong connections on a personal level.



New items have been coming into the Symphony Boutique and selling like crazy during the current season. We seem to be continually restocking or ordering new merchandise that has our concertgoers stopping by regularly to check out the newest items for sale. Working more closely with the Marketing Department has been rewarding, and we look forward to more of the same as we approach the 2019/20 concert season. We know the new Boutique officers, along with Laura Dwyer, plan to build this relationship and we look forward to continued success for the Boutique. Many thanks to all the volunteers who make the whole process work.

Coffee Concerts

It is true. Serving coffee and donuts to hungry concert goers is truly a fest.

Imagine the usual crowd at Friday morning concerts walking into the foyer to find no tables set, no coffee urns at the bar, and no welcoming faces greeting them (besides the ushers). Such a sad scene.


Instead, picture seventeen SVA enthusiasts, hosts and hostesses par excellence, waiting to greet and serve Symphony lovers of all ages. As enjoyable as the coffee and donuts are, it is the people who serve who create the atmosphere. Who better to bring this about than a group of committed, congenial volunteers ready for a party, even on a Friday morning?

The Coffee Concert Committee of forty members rotates duties for eight concerts per season. Concert attendees range from 1,700 to 2,300 per performance. Regardless of numbers, volunteers perform with equal professionalism in all situations. There are many stories of individual kindnesses.

The Coffee Committee is open to new members. While this season has come to a close, an updated list of members will be confirmed mid-August and assignments given early September. For information contact Team Lead Correne Murphy at


What began with the idea of our “campaign buttons” including a caricature of Stéphane Denèuve, morphed into something even more fun and exciting. Yes, we created the buttons, but without the caricature.

However, we owe special thanks to Discovery Vice Chair Marjie Smith’s daughter Patty, who sketched three fabulous caricatures of the maestro. Marjie soon presented two of them as a gift to Marie-Hélène Bèrnard, who promptly had them framed and announced to us that one would be for Stéphane Denèuve. We planned and laughed over yet another surprise “gifting” that would include the framed caricature for the Maestro, along with a wrapped birthday gift for his daughter, Alma, soon to turn 11. Two books were included for Alma as well.


Thanks to major assistance from SLSO staff and some perfect timing, prior to the February 16th concert Marjie and Ken Smith, along with President Jeff Kaplan and Discovery Committee Chair Violet Steinmeyer, waited on the 6th floor of Powell Hall for the “right moment,” hoping Stéphane would once again invite us into his office so we could present our gifts. And of course, he did. This gentlemanly gentleman (who was in process of dressing for the concert) not only invited us in, he showed us where on the wall our previous gift from the Discovery Committee was hanging (a calendar by a local artist), and he scanned the walls for where the new framed caricature might find a home. Noting we hope to meet her one day, he then showed us a few quick views on his phone of Alma, a beautiful young daughter indeed.

And then, off to our seats and he, to the podium.