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News and Notes - February 2020
Editor’s note: The SVA’s News and Notes newsletter is a quarterly publication that reviews the previous quarter’s accomplishments and provides a preview of activities to come. Comments and suggestions are welcome at Cover photo: SVA members attend Sensory Concert Training at the JCC in Creve Coeur.

Notes From the President:

To my SVA Family, bonjour!

I hope everyone enjoyed a happy holiday season and the beginning of a wonderful 2020 New Year!

Before I tell you about upcoming events, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Sensory Friendly Concert held at the JCC on Wednesday, November 6. This was a collaborative effort between the SLSO and the JCC. SVA members Janice Seele and Patty Kaplan did an outstanding job recruiting our volunteers who underwent special training prior to the event. I hope you saw the short video clip we sent you a while back. It brought tears to my eyes watching the reactions of the children in the audience. If we have another Sensory concert in the future, I urge you to take advantage of this volunteer opportunity. It will change your life! Please read our article in this issue of News and Notes for all the details as well as Vi Steinmeyer’s reaction to this memorable concert (See Ambassadors).

So much is already happening in 2020—let’s start with January. Earlier this month, we were treated to another wonderful Winter Heat. This is the SLSO’s way of showing their appreciation to the SVA for all the volunteer service we provide on behalf of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. This past year we volunteered just shy of 11,000 hours—that’s worth repeating—11,000 hours! At Winter Heat, we were treated to good food, good cheer, guest speaker Marie-Hélène Bernard, SLSO President and CEO, and a special performance by members of the SLSO horn section: Thomas Jöstlein, Chris Dwyer (Laura’s husband!), Todd Bowermaster, and Julie Thayer. It’s our turn to say thank you to the SLSO staff and musicians for this enjoyable evening! Merci!

The next day, we volunteered at the Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Alumni Play-In, a featured event celebrating the YO’s 50th anniversary. More than 80 YO alumni from across the country, representing all five decades, came together to rehearse and perform on stage alongside our current YO members as well as the six SLSO musicians who came through the ranks of the YO themselves. What a great reunion! What a great concert! What a great Youth Orchestra! Many thanks to our SVA volunteers who helped make the afternoon run so smoothly. (See Martha Duchild’s article for the full scoop.)

February is a special month as we celebrate the YO50 anniversary by hosting our first ever Pop Culture Trivia Night FUNdraiser, Saturday, February 22, which will be held at Temple Shaare Emeth in Creve Coeur. Musical hosts, silent auction, fun games, prizes, entertainment, we’ll have it all! Tables seat 10. You still have time to call your friends and get a table together. All proceeds benefit the Youth Orchestra educational and mentoring programs. You’ll find all the information you need on our website: Martha Duchild is doing an incredible job chairing this event, and she has so many terrific volunteers helping her. Don’t forget to make your reservations and plan to spend a fun-filled evening with us on February 22! 

Scroll down to read all the exciting SVA news from our Committee Chairs.

Mark your calendar now for our last two Membership events:

Saturday, March 7, Winter Brunch
Friday, May 1, Spring Luncheon

One last thought…
There truly is a lovefest going on at Powell Hall. Stéphane loves the audience, and the audience loves him back. I hope you’ve enjoyed the symphony as much as I have this season. They have never sounded better. There are so many great opportunities to enjoy the SLSO yet this season. I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at an upcoming concert so they can experience the power of music, too! 

À bientôt,
Phyllis Traub, President
Symphony Volunteer Association

Membership News

Meetings and Events
The Meetings and Events Committee is hard at work to make our Winter Brunch a wonderful event. Please save the date and join us at Glen Echo Country Club on March 7th, 2020!

Contact us at
Judy Brown-Rowden, Chair; Susanne Mertens, Vice Chair

New and Prospective
The New and Prospective Committee is so excited about the upcoming Volunteer Fair to be held in conjunction with the Open Rehearsal of the SLSO scheduled on Saturday, February 29, 2020, 11:00-1:30. Jamie Spencer has appropriately titled this event Leap into the SVA since it occurs on Leap Day! This will be an opportunity for us to reach out to symphony donors to attract volunteers for the various committees and activities that can always use another set of eyes or pair of hands. Many of the donors attending this Open Rehearsal are unaware that by virtue of their $75 (or larger) donation, they are already eligible to be members of the SVA. We just need to be present with our smiles and radiant enthusiasm for the work we do on behalf of the SLSO, and thereby reel in some new participants for the SVA.

The Volunteer Fair will consist of an arrangement of 6 to 8 tables in the foyer of Powell Hall, manned by current committee representation. These representatives will be giving their sales pitch to those in attendance at the Open Rehearsal. SVA members are encouraged to attend and serve as greeters, welcoming those attending the rehearsal and encouraging them to explore the different opportunities. Those that will be representing a committee are encouraged to prepare a small display for their table that highlights their activity. If you have a minute, go to the SVA’s Flickr account, in particular the album for the 2018 Winter Brunch. I was told Penny Bari constructed the catchy center pieces in these photos. And, if your last creative nerve is exhausted from the YOTrivia night, just let Elizabeth Hahn or me know, and we will be happy to make suggestions or help construct a suitable display for your table.

We know that the YOTrivia night is currently taking center stage. We will begin preparations for the Volunteer Fair on February 1. Meanwhile, please let Elizabeth and/or me know who will be representing which committee(s) and if you desire assistance with a display piece for your table. Looking forward to an exciting and fun-filled event!

Contact us at
Susan Seibel, Chair; Elizabeth Hahn, Vice Chair

Education News

Youth Orchestra
Youth OrchestraThe Youth Orchestra team supported members by providing desserts and side dishes for the YO's first concert of the year, held in November. YO manager Samantha Sachtleben was grateful for the SVA's contributions and service, as were the musicians, who used the meal to fuel another of their outstanding performances—BRAVO to all!

Participation from many of our SVA team members was and will continue to be crucial for the next two big events on the YO horizon. At the YO Play-In Concert on January 11th , the SLSO welcomed 180 current and former YO musicians to Powell Hall for a day filled with music, food, shopping, and memories. This special anniversary celebration featured our Boutique team who were responsible for commemorative T-shirt sales in the lobby, and our Ambassadors, who directed the patrons and musicians to rehearsal spaces, welcome visitors, and offer the warmth and hospitality for which they are so well regarded.

To help support the Play-In, the SVA is proud to hold its first trivia night FUNdraiser, on February 22. Details are at We're calling on our entire membership to make this event a success, whether by purchasing a table, finding donors for silent auctions, sponsoring a round or door prizes, and/or volunteering to work the night of the event. Whatever your contribution, we guarantee that this evening of pop culture trivia from the past five decades will have you leaving the event with a smile on your face and perhaps a favorite musical tune in your head!

As you know, the story of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra cannot be told without also mentioning the Symphony Volunteer Association. The shared history of the two groups began when the SVA, then known as the Women's Association, sponsored as part of its mission the creation of the SLSYO, founded in 1970 by music director Leonard Slatkin. One of the SLSYO's first managers was SVA member Edith Hoagland, who served in that role for 10 years.

Think about it: 50 years of young musicians keeping classical music alive by bringing music notes to life as part of this cherished orchestra. As early advocates for the YO, the SVA helped ensure that the organization would continue to enrich lives through the power of music.

The SVA is honored to have played a role in fostering the YO legacy and looks forward to using the many talents of our members to support its mission over the next 50 years. Please join us!

Contact me at
Martha Duchild, Team Leader

Sensory-Friendly Concerts
Sensory Concert The following report appeared on after the Sensory-Friendly Concerts on November 6. Led by Janice Seele and Patty Kaplan, the SVA provided a force of volunteers to greet, guide, and support the students from arrival to departure. Here are excerpts of the story:

“For most children who attend a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra education concert with their classmates, it’s an exciting field trip adventure. They arrive by the busload, join thousands of other enthusiastic children on the busy sidewalk as they make their way inside Powell Hall, marvel at the scale and grandeur of the foyer and auditorium, and thrill to the sound of almost 100 SLSO musicians playing together on the stage. It’s an experience they remember for the rest of their lives.

“Students on the autism spectrum, or with sensory challenges, might be overwhelmed by such an adventure. These students generally have fewer opportunities to engage with the arts than their peers, which is why … SLSO musicians, staff, and volunteers hosted two Sensory-Friendly Education Concerts at the Jewish Community Center, in partnership with Special School District of St. Louis County. While the SLSO performed Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, extra care was taken to provide a safe, friendly, and judgement-free experience.

“Paula Berner, a retired teacher from the Special School District of St. Louis County, collaborated with the SLSO on preparing for these concerts, which the SLSO hosted regularly in the 1980s and early ‘90s … The SLSO created materials to prepare students and teachers for the experience, and also provided a quiet room for students who became overstimulated, as well as self-regulating toys. St. Louis storyteller Bobby Norfolk brought the story to life with his colorful acting, which was made available to students with hearing impairments through an American Sign Language interpreter.

“More than 600 students from nine schools attended the concerts, bringing with them almost as many teachers and support staff. The concert environment … let students experience live music and discover their personal reactions to the music and overall experience.

“SLSO musicians, staff, and volunteers learned too, receiving … instruction about what to expect from their audience. They learned what it’s like for a child with disabilities to experience the world, why children with sensory disorders can become overloaded, how overload can manifest in various behaviors, and how to respond appropriately. They learned just how rare these types of carefully-designed school field trips for students with special needs are. They’re so rare, in fact, that this event attracted a research team from Saint Louis University to evaluate and add to the body of published research the impact of both the concert and training on staff, volunteers, and musicians. However, the most important result of the concert was the impact it made on the students, connecting them to the power of music.”

Picture The Music
The 30th year of Picture the Music activities started with a kick-off meeting on October 29, 2019. Both long-tenured committee members as well as new friends attended this meeting. A second kick-off meeting scheduled for November 11 was cancelled due to the snowstorm that day, but all committee members received the pertinent information. Picture the Music takes a small army of volunteers, and we are fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers committed to the various program activities that occur January through May 2020.

BoutiquePicture the Music invites students in grades K-6 in Missouri and Illinois to discover orchestral music and respond with paintings and drawings that express creative thought and emotion inspired by the music. This season, students explored the Waltzfrom Khachaturian's Masquerade Suite. From the more than 12,000 pieces of art created, each teacher is encouraged to select 7 pieces of art for submission to the Picture the Music artwork competition. On January 17 and 18, volunteers staffed three separate locations to accommodate teachers as they submitted more than 500 pieces of student artwork. These artwork submissions were then prepared for the artwork competition Judging Day on January 27, 2020. A flurry of activity occurred on Judging Day (pictured above) as a team of 20+ volunteers and a panel of seven expert judges converged in the Powell Hall Foyer for a full day of activities which culminated in the selection of the top 100 pieces of art.

After Judging Day, the top 100 pieces of art were framed in preparation for the Picture the Music Awards Ceremony scheduled in Powell Hall on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. After the Awards Ceremony, the top 100 pieces of art will be displayed in a traveling art exhibit at Plaza Frontenac, Magic House, Schlafly Branch Library, and St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre.

The impact of this SLSO education outreach program is second only to the education concerts! We are grateful to the many SVA members as well as SLSO Education Department staff members, Jessica Ingraham and Brittney McIntyre, who support the mission of Inspiring Students to Get Involved and Stay Involved in Music. Kudos to the many dedicated SVA members who made this happen for the past 29 years. The 30th year of this important education outreach program is off to a wonderful start, and we look forward to the remaining activities. 

Contact us at
Sherry Moschner, Chair; Debbie Miali, Vice Chair

Express The Music
Express The Music (ETM) Committee members completed school and teacher contacts. A last reminder email was sent in late November to teachers who have worked with the SVA in the past to remind them of the schedule for the ETM activities. We are anticipating a good number of entries this year.

A contract was signed by both the SLSO and the University United Methodist Church for use of their facility for Reading Day on Saturday, February 1, 2020. The Church very graciously offered not to charge the SVA a fee to use the facility. In the event of inclement weather, Reading Day will be held the following Saturday, February 8, 2020. The number of volunteers for Reading Day has been increasing, and the goal of at least thirty (30) volunteers is very close.

Express the Music

Prior to Reading Day (pictured right) on February 1, 2020, entries from the junior and senior high schools were due by January 17, 2020. The envelopes were opened on Friday, January 24, and entries were entered into the ETM database, assigned a random number, and prepared for Reading Day. The names of students submitting prose or poetry remain confidential from volunteers who perform initial reading and scoring as well as from the final judges. This is done to ensure all prose and poetry entries are treated fairly using the same criteria. Final judging is done by professional authors and English and Literature professors.

During the remainder of February, entries are tabulated, finalists and winners are identified by their initial and final scores, and certificates are ordered. Finalists, their teachers, and their principals are notified and invited to attend the Awards ceremony. The Awards ceremony is held in conjunction with the Youth Orchestra concert on March 15. It is exciting for all involved to see and hear the Youth Orchestra’s excellent musicians, as well as see the students who expressed their thoughts and emotions after hearing the first movement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

While all of this activity is occurring, other volunteers are writing, proofing, and printing the Awards ceremony program. Finalists do not know who the winners of each category are until the Awards ceremony. Awards are given to junior and senior high students in both prose and poetry categories. The junior category of entries come from middle school students and senior category entries are from high school students.

To assure no one other than a handful of volunteers knows who the winners are in each category, the final envelopes with instructions and information are given to the finalists, but no winners are identified until the ceremony. Following the presentation of Awards, each finalist/winner is presented with a printed book with each finalist’s essay or poem.

This year The ETM committee is working with the SLSO to develop a template to complete for each finalist and sent to their hometown newspaper. We anticipate this will recognize the hard work of local students and teachers and inspire teachers and students to participate in the 2021 ETM competition.

The ETM committee members are excited to perform the various tasks to assure a successful and satisfying experience for these young writers.

Contact us at
Glenna Schindler, Chair; Liz Halpin, Vice Chair

Powell Hall Tours

The Powell Hall Tours group had a busy fall and early winter season. Eleven different tours were conducted for 466 individuals:

Type                                       Quantity                   # Participants
Education                                 2                                  332
(Post Education Concert)
PH Events                                3                                  86
(Sales, SVA, Other)
Public                                       6                                  48

Powell Hall ToursOur guides logged 67 hours of service for the SLSO during the last quarter of 2019.

The new year started with two special tours for the Parkway School District Music Directors and for FOCUS/Leadership St. Louis. Two additional Education Concert tours were held in February for several schools. A new electronic survey form for teachers was implemented. Additional public tours for the remainder of the SLSO calendar are being scheduled.

For additional information about volunteering with this group, please contact Becky Brown, Group Leader at

Philanthropy and Stewardship News


The Ambassador Committee fell into Fall of 2019 with a very busy season.

2019 Welcome BrunchOn October 17 we hosted the Musicians’ Breakfast, enjoyed by so many musicians and volunteers. Goody Cups and balloons added to the festivities, and it was one way for us to let our SLSO Musicians know how much we love and appreciate them.

Quickly, we followed the breakfast with an Ambassador Training session on October 21 that proved to be VERY informative, even for those of us who have been longtime members. Basic ways of performing duties and handling situations were suggested. It would be worthwhile for ALL volunteers to attend.

Next, on October 24,we hosted a fantastic YO50 Fundraiser at the home of Dr. Kenneth and Marjorie Smith. Raising $4,451.75 was something to toot our horns about, but perhaps even more important, several things happened that warmed the hearts: The fantastic YO musicians who played were, of course, phenomenal, AND, they were all grateful to the SVA volunteers. Comments were made among those present about how much fun this event was, reminding us of our former “Musicales,” lovely in-home concerts that bound us together in our camaraderie.

A Sensory Concert Training was held on October 30, an amazing eye-opener for those of us who had no prior knowledge or experience with what these young people, their parents, and teachers dealt with on a daily basis. The Sensory-Friendly Concert that followed on November 6 was one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences one could hope to have, teaching us how music can be felt and fill the hearts of these youngsters.

That wound up 2019 for the Ambassador Committee. But 2020 brings new opportunity!

Contact us at
Vi Steinmeyer, Chair; Marjorie Smith, Vice Chair

The Friends Committee wrapped up their second series of SLSO Thankathon Calls in the month of December. We are literally friends making Friends Thank You calls. Everyone on the committee makes an effort to help. With September and December calls we will have reached about 800 donors. The SLSO donors seem appreciative and surprised we’re only calling to thank them. We could use a few more callers on our committee. Please call or e-mail Sara Fabick if you would like to become one of our friends calling Friends of the SLSO. ( or 314-952-0740)

Contact us at
Sara Fabick, Chair; Jamie Spencer, Vice Chair