210503_S_SVA news and Notes eblast and web shotsder for June2.jpg

News and Notes – May 2021

The SVA’s News and Notes 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 SVACommunications@slso.org. Photo above: incoming President Kent McNeil and Jane McNeil working at the YO Trivia Night.

Notes from the President:

To My SVA Family, Bonjour!

In August 2019, I was excited to write my first News and Notes, and now two years later, I am teary-eyed writing my last one! Since I referenced books and movies in past issues, I thought it only fitting that I end with something musical. So here are some of my favorite song titles and lyrics which help to describe my feelings during these past two years:

As SVA President “I’ve Had the Time of my Life.” During my first year, I was definitely “Walking on Sunshine” until Covid-19 changed our world. We had to develop a “New Attitude” as we discovered new ways to “Carry On.” We reminded our members, our musicians, and our staff: “Reach out, I’ll be there,” and we were. “Getting to Know You” became even more important during the pandemic as we found new ways to stay connected. We learned to persevere as our mantra became much more than “I Will Survive.” We not only survived, we thrived! We truly found out that there “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”to keep us from achieving our goals. “We are the Champions” working side by side with our amazing SLSO staff. You have given me “The Best Years of My Life,” and I’ll never forget my tenure as your SVA President!

Some additional reflections…

  • We may be the only orchestra with three French-speaking top personnel: Stéphane, Marie-Hélène, and Stephanie Childress, our new Assistant Conductor (whose mother is French!). Now’s the perfect time to brush up on your français!
  • As your SVA President, I had the additional privilege of representing the volunteer assocation on the SLSO Board, including its Executive Committee, under the leadership of Board Presidents Norm Eaker and Steve Finerty. Our meetings truly opened my eyes to the many complex facets of a world-renowned orchestra, and we are so lucky to have Marie-Hélène as our President and CEO. Her experience, knowledge, and leadership are invaluable.
  • One of the highlights of serving on the SLSO Board was exploring and understanding Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), core values of our St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. It was an eye-opening experience, and I’m proud to have been a part of this exploration.
  • I have been fortunate to work with the most dedicated, enthusiastic, and capable volunteers during my tenure. With much appreciation, I thank our Executive team: Elizabeth Crosby (Secretary), Connie Wepfer (Membership VP), Debbie Dillon (Philanthropy and Stewardship VP), and Kent McNeil (Education VP). Our Board Chairs, Vice Chairs, and Team Leaders—you are the best! And to my Past Presidents Advisory Committee—thank you for your sage advice! I must give a special shout out to Jeff Kaplan, our immediate Past President, who sends out our many communications, often on very short notice, without complaining (except maybe to Patty!). Jeff, you made my life so much easier, and I am forever grateful for your help and computer expertise! And you even agreed to chair the Nominating Committee, a daunting task this year.
  • Laura, Laura, Laura—I just can’t say enough about our own Laura Dwyer. She is inspirational; she loves the SVA; she is an outstanding flutist and music educator; she always wears a smile; she has become a Zoom expert; her yoga keeps her mind, body, and soul at peace; she has a fantastic partner in life with Chris; and as I’ve said over and over again—she is the glue that holds the SVA together! I have been so fortunate to have her at my side, (even though she was miles away my second year) and I cherish the friendship that we have developed and hope to continue in the future!

One Last Thought…

It is my pleasure and honor to turn over the reins to our new SVA President, Kent McNeil, someone I greatly admire and “R- E- S- P- E -C- T” (sorry, I just couldn’t resist). The Nominating Committee did an outstanding job putting forth their leadership slate. Together with our new Executive Committee, Board Chairs, Vice Chairs, Team Leaders, and most of all you, our devoted volunteers, we will continue to help the SLSO enrich lives through the power of music.

À Bientôt—stay well and stay safe.
Phyllis Traub
SVA Outgoing President

SVA Leadership for 2021-2023 Announced

Your Nominating Committee is thrilled to announce yet another spectacular General Board for the 2021-2023 term. Many thanks from committee chair Jeff Kaplan to committee members Martha Duchild, Liz Halpin, Margaret Lahrmann, Susanne Mertens, Suzanne Seibel, and Connie Wepfer for their creativity and hard work.

Here are the members of the Executive and General Boards for next term (incumbents remaining to complete their two-year terms are so noted, and Team Leads are listed for completeness):

Executive Committee
President: Kent McNeil
Secretary: Elizabeth Hahn
Tech Team Lead: Jean Light
By-Laws Consultant: Jean Saunders

Membership Committee
Vice-President: Suzanne Seibel
New & Prospective Chair: Phyllis Traub
New & Prospective Vice-Chair: Marilyn Humiston
Meetings & Events Chair: Linda Seibert
Meetings & Events Vice-Chair: Terri Ciccolella (incumbent,  2nd year)
One & Done Chair: Karen Silsby
Membership Engagement Team Lead: Kathryn Snodgrass
Communications Team Lead: Jeff Kaplan
Photography Team Lead: Pam Belloli
Directory Team Lead: Susan Pribble

Education Committee
Vice-President, Education: Debbie Dillon
ETM Chair: Patty Kaplan (incumbent,  2nd year)
ETM Vice-Chair: Connie Wepfer
Instrument Playground Chair: Jim Schindler (incumbent,  2nd year)
Instrument Playground Vice-Chair: Karen Nichols (incumbent,  2nd year)
Powell Hall Opportunities Chair: Mike Grayson (incumbent,  2nd year)
Powell Hall Opportunities Vice-Chair: Kathy Borges (incumbent,  2nd year)
Tours Team Lead: Becky Brown
Youth Orchestra Team Lead: Jean Saunders (acting)
Education Hosts Team Lead: Steve Seele (incoming)
Group Hosts Team Leads: LaVerne Reibold & Willard Moseley
Coffee Concerts Team Lead: Correne Murphy
PTM Chair: Sue Darcy
PTM Vice-Chair: Beth Rogers

Philanthropy & Stewardship Committee
Vice-President: Martha Duchild
Advocacy Chair: Mark Mittleman (incumbent,  2nd year)
Ambassadors Chair: Bob Thompson
Ambassadors Vice-Chair: Mary Parks
Boutique Chair: Christine Henry
Boutique Vice-Chair: Margaret Lahrmann
Discovery Chair: Janice Seele
Discovery Vice-Chair: Jim Moore
Friends Chair: Bev Cox
Friends Vice-Chair: Sara Fabick

All other General Board positions are filled by incumbents who will be in their second year of service, and whose positions will be filled next May. Here is what our organization for 2021-2023 looks like:

SVA Organization Chart

Reminder - Membership Directory: The 2020/2021 Membership Directory is still available! If you would like a printed copy, please send an email to SVADirectory@slso.org for instructions for safe, no contact pick-up. You may also view the online version at this link. Need help accessing the online Membership Directory? Call your committee chair or VP, or email Susan Pribble at SVADirectory@slso.org for instructions and the password. 

In the interest of making sure that we are able to keep you up to date on the activities of both the SVA and the SLSO, please let us know any changes to your contact information—new home address, email address, phone number, etc. A simple email to SVADirectory@slso.org will do.


Meetings and Events
The Meetings and Events Committee has been wonderful about thinking outside the box (or inside the box as the case may be). A group of hard-working volunteers personally delivered the cheese boards and bubbly to our members to celebrate the outgoing and the incoming SVA Boards at our annual Spring event held May 7th. Kseniya Rosenchild-Paulin headed the group; Susanne Mertens did the invitation, and Suzanne Seibel oversaw delivery. The committee as a whole developed and researched the idea.

The outgoing board members were thanked and the incoming board members were welcomed by outgoing president Phyllis Traub. A good time was had by all!


Express the Music:
With the tremendous help of the Education Department of the SLSO and our wonderful and dedicated volunteer readers, Express the Music (ETM) had a terrific 24th season, adapting beautifully to the necessity of an online experience. Everyone involved rose to the challenge of using an entirely new system this year.

Express the Music is a writing competition that invites students in grades 6-12 to discover a musical selection and respond with poetry or prose inspired by their listening. The choice of music this year was the piece Made in America by Joan Tower. More than 2,300 students participated, culminating in 377 submissions and 57 finalists, whose writings are published in our digital online book (slso.org/express).

Our awards book has a beautiful introduction by composer Joan Tower. She describes how living in South America for nine years during her childhood gave her special insights to living in the United States afterwards. She writes beautifully about how her composition, which uses the musical theme of America the Beautiful, may have been her response to how to keep America beautiful.

In addition to our 30 volunteer readers and our 8 expert judges, all who gave many hours to reading and judging, we owe very special thanks to Liz Halpin, who assembled the beautiful awards book. Every one of the 57 submissions is expressive and impressive. I hope you’ll find it inspiring reading! You can find the complete book of finalists and the very special Awards video at slso.org/express.

Our top 12 winners will receive monetary prizes which are sponsored by the Employees Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis.

Patrice Kaplan, Chair

Picture the Music
On Saturday morning, March 27, 2021, Picture the Music 2021 ended on a high note with the annual awards ceremony honoring the top 100 award winners. We estimate there were 300+ people in attendance at this virtual Zoom event based on the number of sign-ins and the number of people attending within each sign-in. Families and friends from as far away as Alabama, New Jersey, Arizona, and the Philippines were able to attend the awards ceremony to cheer on their students.  

Ron Klemm served as our Master of Ceremonies for the 27th year! Ron's enthusiasm and warm personality made the ceremony special for all of us who were able to attend. Parents, teachers, students, and other guests sent personal notes of positive and affirming congratulations to the award winners through comments in the Zoom chat. It was an inspiring and heart-warming way to spend a Saturday morning.

As Ron announced the name of each individual top 100 award winner, that student's artwork was shown on the screen. Each piece of artwork was labeled with the student's name, grade, school, and the title of the artwork. It was a wonderful way to showcase the artistic and creative talents of the top 100 award winners. and to personalize this virtual ceremony.

Our gratitude and appreciation to Brittney McIntyre, Education & Community Programs Coordinator, who worked her usual magic and ensured that all the technical aspects of the awards ceremony were in place. Prior to the awards ceremony, Brittney created the digital artwork presentation and during the awards ceremony she partnered with Ron Klemm to showcase the correct piece of artwork on the screen as each student's name was announced. The presentation worked flawlessly.

A list of the top 100 award winners as well as the top 100 pieces of artwork are displayed on slso.org/picture. Please take a few minutes to look at the artwork and the list of the top 100 award winners. The SVA members can and should be very proud of Picture the Music which has now completed its 31st consecutive year.

It has been an honor and privilege for Debbie Eldridge Miali and me to serve as your vice chair and chair of Picture the Music. We are grateful for the support, hard work and dedication of the Picture the Music committee and the Education Department staff members. We look forward to the day when we can see all of you in person and hope to join you as future volunteers for Picture the Music.

Youth Orchestra
While the YO team has been inactive due to virtual programming for the Youth Orchestra, we have had the great pleasure of welcoming two new SVA members to our team, and we're excited to add them to our dedicated team!

Youth Orchestra Manager Samantha Sachtleben reported that the YO strings have had the opportunity for some stage time this spring. The strings were divided into two smaller sections, and each group rehearsed, on stage, with Stephanie Childress, our new YO Music Director. It was clear to Samantha that Stephanie Childress was a big hit with the young musicians, and all are looking forward to the level of musicianship that will be attained once the YO is able to work with Stephanie for a full cycle!

Despite safety protocols necessitating virtual auditions for the 21/22 season, there may still be an opportunity for the YO team to assist with new programs. It is hoped that a few small student groups will be able to perform with the SLSO's On-the-Go series that's coming up soon, and Samantha Sachtleben is currently undertaking efforts to invite an audience to hear an open YO rehearsal in an outdoor setting, perhaps a park, this June. If there are any opportunities for YO team members to assist with these activities, we will be notified.

Take care,

Philanthropy & Stewardship

Advocacy Committee Overcomes COVID-19
(That title's a tongue-twister!)

 The Advocacy Committee had to work around an unusual obstacle this year. With COVID-19 limiting everyone's ability to travel and meet others in person, we could not take a bus to Jefferson City, as in past years, to meet state legislators. We had to find new ways to support the Committee's chief priority, an increased appropriation for the Missouri Arts Council through which the SLSO and other organizations receive support. But our 33 members came through with telephone, internet, and mailed communications, both to their own representatives and to important legislative leaders, particularly the House and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees, and to the office of Lieutenant Governor Kehoe who has the executive branch responsibility for the arts. As a result, we were rewarded with a significant increase in the appropriation, approximately 20%—although there's still plenty of room for it to grow in future years.

Mark Mittleman, Chair

Reflecting back for our final feature to be included in our newsletter as the incoming leadership is about to take office, I thought, “we Ambassadors have not really done that much.” Then I looked back and remembered. 

Thank you to all who served these past two years on our Ambassador Committee. We were asked to serve at these events (not necessarily in this order):

Forest Park Concert
Welcome Back Musicians Breakfast
Meet Stéphane at the airport when he first arrived in St. Louis
Sponsor a round of trivia at Trivia Night
Serve as greeters at the Holiday Festival for the Symphony Chorus
Help with the Sensory Concert
Help at the YO Play-In

Hopefully I have included all the many times you were asked to help - and rose to the request. We appreciate your willingness to serve on the Ambassador Committee. As we complete our term Marjie and I wish each of you blessings in whatever the future holds in your lives, and that we all continue to support the orchestra we love.

Best always—and thank you,

Violet Steinmeyer, Ambassador Chair
Marjorie Smith, Ambassador Vice Chair