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NEWS & NOTES – February 2022

The SVA’s News and Notes 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: recruiting new SVA members at Volunteer Day

Notes from the President:

As we begin 2022, we are once again learning how Covid and its variants can affect our daily lives. Despite the many and varied restrictions that we have managed over the last two years, we, as SVA volunteers, needed to find ways to continue to support our SLSO. As President, I have the unique opportunity to observe and participate in the management of the SLSO and represent the SVA.

As each previous SVA president, I became a member of the Board of Trustees. I participate and vote along with the civic and community leaders who have committed themselves to this incredible orchestra. I also serve on the board’s Executive Committee, which assists the SLSO management team on policy and procedures, strategies, and long-range planning. In addition, I am a member of the Philanthropy Committee. Each committee has a significant role in managing through this unforeseen and very disruptive pandemic.

I have seen, from the inside, how a major orchestra calmly analyzes and makes difficult decision during a crisis. I have been asked to represent the SVA in major decisions which would impact our volunteers. The executive officers and board members have demonstrated to me how important the SVA is to the success of the SLSO. I feel confident that the SLSO will emerge from this period strengthened and a model for other orchestras to emulate.

During this time, our volunteers have stepped up and provided whatever support the SLSO has asked of us. Our committee leaders and leadership team have proven their exceptional skills in adapting to the challenges and continued the programs that we have managed for decades. We will come through this stronger and more creative than ever.

Save the Date: Winter Heat
Winter Heat has been renamed Spring Fling and rescheduled for Thursday, April 21, at 4:30pm in Powell Hall. Stay tuned for further information as the date approaches.

Remembering Kathy Borges:
Kathy BorgesThe SVA was saddened in December by the death of a beloved member, Kathy Borges. As a volunteer, she was incredibly committed, organized, and technologically gifted. As a friend and individual, Kathy was full of vitality with a dry, witty sense of humor and a deep laugh. She was always, without question, there for you.

There are few areas of the SVA that Kathy did not touch, and what she touched she inevitably improved. Kathy joined the SVA in 2004 and immediately became involved, taking on a wide variety of leadership positions including Powell Hall Ushers Chair, Exhibits and Display Chair, One and Done Chair, Powell Hall Opportunities Vice Chair, Tech Team Lead, and Secretary of the Executive Committee.

Kathy had outstanding computer skills and she generously shared her talents with many committees. She created an invaluable database for Picture the Music that enabled better year-to-year tracking and automated much of the paperwork and logistics flow, greatly easing the workload of the entire committee. For years Kathy even scheduled her annual Caribbean trip with friends around key PTM communication and work dates to ensure that program mailings and handling went smoothly. She served as the volunteer coordinator for Gypsy Caravan, again utilizing her computer skills to create forms and processes to enhance volunteer management and communication. With her daughter Margie, Kathy was a perennial and enthusiastic gate volunteer for Gypsy Caravan as well. Kathy was also a long-term Boutique volunteer and while serving the Executive Committee as secretary she developed a procedure for capturing the hours of all the committees, an assignment she kept for several years afterwards.

Kathy was a woman of boundless energy. As active as she was with the SVA, she was equally involved in several other organizations close to her heart. Kathy was an avid golfer with a weekly golf group. She danced. She worked out. She had a close relationship with her two daughters, Margie and Liz, and cherished the time she spent with them, often getting away with them for long weekends. She also had a special fondness for her cat, Duke. Her daughters reflected that Kathy joined the SVA because she like the people she met there. We had a fondness for Kathy, too. She will be dearly missed.

Feature Article: Get to Know Michelle Byrd
The first in an occasional series of articles about SLSO Staff members

Michelle Byrd, who spoke to the SVA General Board in early December, is the IN UNISON Programs Coordinator for the SLSO. But that title is misleadingly simple.

Michelle ByrdMichelle serves on two additional committees to support the connection between the SLSO and the IN UNISON program: the IN UNISON Advisory Committee and the Delores Greathouse Scholarship Committee. 

The IN UNISON Advisory Committee is made up of IU chorus members (each vocal section is represented) who meet once per month to serve as the voice of the full chorus. This group shares ideas with the SLSO's Artistic Team and addresses general needs of the chorus, such as cheer/bereavement support and chorus guidelines/policies.

The Delores Greathouse Committee meets in the spring to decide the best way to distribute scholarships to students in time for fall semester of the next year.

Lastly, in a normal season Michelle visits local high schools and collegiate institutions to recruit for the chorus by working with choirs, judging choir performances, and attending the Missouri Choral Directors Association and Missouri Music Education Association yearly.

Here is a brief rundown of Michelle's wide and varied portfolio. For full information, visit the IN UNISON page on the SLSO website.

The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus is an all-volunteer, 120-voice auditioned ensemble that performs a variety of musical styles, with a focus on the interpretation, performance, and preservation of the music of African American and African cultures. Chorus members have traditionally come from the 33 IN UNISON partner churches, and  also from area universities and colleges. Chorus members are teachers, nurses, office workers, students, doctors, and people from many other walks of life. Some members have retired from long careers, some are just entering the work force or working on degrees. Many chorus members sing in other vocal ensembles or church choirs. All share a love of music and of singing. 

IN UNISON Chorus Delores Greathouse Scholarship
The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus Delores Greathouse Scholarship is funded annually through a freewill offering from IN UNISON Chorus members and friends. This award provides $500 to $1,000 to African American high school graduating seniors, current college students, and former recipients of any major. All applicants must be pursuing an undergraduate degree and actively participating in a musical ensemble with their church or collegiate institution.

SLSO IN UNISON College Scholarship 
In a deliberate and strategic effort to encourage diversity in the arts, the SLSO provides up to six scholarships for young African American undergraduate students who are studying in a music-related field at a greater St. Louis area accredited college/university. In addition to scholarships, students are provided opportunities to receive mentoring with the SLSO staff and musicians as well as participate in or attend select concert events.

IN UNISON Graduate Fellowships 
To provide real-world experience that can be leveraged into employment in a music-related field, a limited number of tailored fellowship opportunities are provided to select IN UNISON Scholars who are near to graduation or are recently graduated. Students receive a small stipend to help cover expenses and are selected based on leadership skills and positive academic standing demonstrated throughout their undergraduate careers. 

This program nurtures connections between the SLSO and the African American community through SLSO musicians' participation in Sunday morning worship services and encouragement of member congregations to attend concerts at Powell Hall.  

IN UNISON Mentoring the Music: Peer-to-Peer 
The IU Academy also includes Mentoring the Music: Peer to Peer, a peer mentorship program in collaboration with the Youth Orchestra and Gateway Music Outreach to help encourage developing talent starting at the middle school level. Peer to Peer duos attend SLSO concerts together at least once each semester as guests of the SLSO. Also, duos perform with SLSO musicians and the IN UNISON Chorus on the annual free IN UNISON Chorus Community Concert held each spring.  

IN UNISON Young Artist Award
The IN UNISON Young Artists Awards provide singers 30 years old and under the opportunity to sing with the St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus on the stage at Powell Hall and in other venues in the St. Louis community. These paid positions are reserved for a limited number of singers with strong experience as soloists with large ensembles. IN UNISON Young Artist will provide musical leadership in the Chorus. In return, the artist will be given opportunities to solo, meet internationally acclaimed artists, and perform with the world-renown St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In 2011, the symphony created the position of Young Artists within the ranks of the chorus.

The SLSO’s IN UNISON program is supported by Bayer Fund. Here is Michelle's contact information if you have any questions or comments:

Michelle Byrd

IN UNISON Programs Manager
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Phone: 314-286-4114


Meetings and Events: 
Meetings and Events Committee is going forward with planning for our Winter Brunch on March 12. Final details will not be available until shortly after this News and Notes issue is published. Watch your email for details, but meanwhile, SAVE THE DATE March 12 for our Brunch.

New and Prospective: 
We’re very excited to welcome our new SVA members who have joined since May 2021:

Dianna Barron
Jim Cooper
Judith and Thomas Couch
Lynda Lieberman
Stephanie Randall
Russ Vanderbeek
Mary Kay Wolfe
Marcia Wolkowitz

We hope to meet everyone in person as soon as possible!!

In addition, there are several people who attended the November 6, 2021, Open Rehearsal who have expressed an interest in joining the SVA, and we are busy following up with phone calls and emails. We hope to add more to our new member list in our next News and Notes.

We are very excited about hosting an upcoming COCKTAILS AND CONVERSATION featuring SLSO Associate Concertmaster, Celeste Golden Boyer. This will be a wonderful Zoom event on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, 5:00-6:00pm. Why not ask a friend or two to join you so they can see first-hand the exciting activities we provide for our SVA members?  Be sure to mark your calendars!


One and Done:
One and Done had a good December with the holiday concerts.  The two at Lindenwood were new this year. They were well-attended and patrons mentioned how glad they were that the symphony was performing at Lindenwood.

As for as 2022, One and Done has the assignment to be the host or hostess for the Symphony Shuttles. January’s has been completed. Hopefully the remaining ones (February, March, April) will be a go.

At present we are on hold waiting for new assignments.
Karen Silsby, Chairperson

Express the Music: 
Express the Music - Where volunteering is easy and fun!

Normally, I don’t like to ask anyone to do something for me. I thought that finding judges to read our student Express the Music entries would require arm twisting:  one of my weakest skills. However, it turns out that the most delightful part of being the Chair of ETM has been asking people to read and judge our student submissions. Everyone LOVES to help with this!  We have 30 preliminary readers again this year; and all of our expert judges except one were able and eager to help us again. (We’re pleased to have THREE poet laureates helping us this year:  Walter Bargen, the first Missouri Poet Laureate, Maryfrances Wagner, our current one, and Janie Ibur, the St. Louis Poet Laureate.)

We’re currently in the thick of collecting submissions, and will soon begin reading, judging, and organizing our winning entries. We’re eagerly looking forward to a LIVE awards ceremony to take place during the Youth Orchestra Concert on Sunday afternoon, March 27. Fingers crossed. Should Covid prohibit a live ceremony, a backup video awards ceremony similar to last year’s is being considered and pursued. You’ll be able to read all of the finalists’ compositions soon, and if you’d like to prepare, you can listen to the fourth movement of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, just like the students did.

You can find our online information at slso.org/express.

Patty Kaplan, Chair

Picture the Music:
Picture the Music will be receiving this year’s artwork submissions from teachers virtually by January 19. The students listened to Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and illustrated their interpretations.

We are extremely fortunate to have a wonderful panels of judges from the arts and arts education who will use a platform called Survey Legend to select our top 100 winners from grades K-6.

We are hoping to move forward with an in-person awards ceremony at Powell Hall on Wednesday, April 6, but are prepared to have a virtual ceremony if necessary. The current plan is to have the top 100 pieces of artwork be exhibited at the Magic House April 7-21, and at Plaza Frontenac April 21-May 5.

Sue Darcy, PTM Chairperson
Beth Rogers, PTM Co-Chairperson

Group Hosts: 
Group Hosts have been busy meeting busses and shuttles and greeting symphony guests who are happy to be at Powell enjoying our amazing symphony. We have two to three regular buses per our schedule and then six to eight surprise busses from retirement communities. The Holiday concerts were spectacular and very well attended. Also, the weather has been pretty good except for a few cold days for meeting the buses. It’s really a lot of fun being Group Hosts

LaVerne and Willard Moseley

636-227-9671     314 -762-539

Philanthropy & Stewardship:

The Ambassadors brought Surprise and Delight to every concert during the Fall Season. Anyone

attending for the first time or any first-time donor was directed to our table where first-time attendees were given a voucher for tickets for another concert, and first-time donors were given a special SLSO gift. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive both from the attendees and from the Hall. So much so that we were asked to staff concerts for the second half of the year!  We still need coverage for the March 12 and March 19 8:00pm concerts. If you would like to help us (and receive a free ticket to that concert), please let me know at judybrownsellsre@gmail.com. And thanks to everyone who has participated so far.

Hi to all SVA members!

The Boutique Committee volunteers have worked a total of 718 hours, keeping the Boutique up and running during the first 4 months of SLSO concerts. An average of 20 volunteers have worked each month.

SLSO face maskAt the present time, we are hoping to have new merchandise to sell, as sales have been brisk, especially in the month December. The best-selling item has been the SLSO logo mask.

We wish everyone a Happy New Year and we are optimistic about future SLSO concerts and the diminishing of COVID.

Christine Henry, Chairperson
Margaret Lahrmann, Vice Chairperson

Discovery Committee
The Discovery Committee has been meeting monthly to develop ideas supporting a number of priorities including increasing the number and diversity of SVA members, increasing audience, increasing Legacy Donor membership, and fundraising. The Discovery Committee forwards any ideas it feels are worth pursuing to the Executive Committee for its approval, after which the Executive Committee will assign the item to an existing committee or establish a new one.

While the challenges and restrictions of COVID have delayed moving forward with most of the ideas generated thus far, the Discovery committee was able to begin establishing a relationship with the IN UNISON Chorus in December, welcoming them back to the Powell Stage for the recent Gospel Holiday concert with treat bags for each chorus member. A similar effort is planned for the St. Louis Symphony Chorus once the choruses are able to rehearse together again.

General Membership Reminder: 
Here’s a reminder for the entire membership that we have sent out a new interest survey now that our committees are re-activating. If you haven’t responded yet, please do!  If you have not heard from committees that you have expressed an interest in or have participated with in the past, please reach out to those committee chairs and let them know of your continued interest, or perhaps your regrets if you no longer want to be involved in that area of outreach. AND! Please seize all opportunities to reel in a new member of the SVA when in conversations with friends, family members and acquaintances who may have an interest in joining.

Reminder: Do You Have a Badge? 
If you still have an old-style (“STLSymphony”) badge and need to upgrade to the new style, or if you don’t have a badge at all and would like one, please let Suzanne Seibel know at SVAMembershipVP@slso.org. In case you don’t quite remember the badge style change, the badge on the left below is the OLD style, and the one on the right is the NEW style!

Old SVA Badge    SVA New Badge

Reminder - Membership Directory: 
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 St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, 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.