Volunteer Notes A Newsletter of the League of American Orchestras' Volunteer Council

The League of American Orchestras' Volunteer Council leads, advocates, and champions volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras' community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.


Ginny Lundquist, Volunteer Notes Editor | ginny10849@me.com

Past President, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Council


President's Message

Five Things to Know About Conference

Gold Book Awards of Excellence: Announcing the 2019 Winners!

Your Volunteer Council Exists to Help You

Resource Spotlight

The Volunteer Council

President's Message

Happy New Year from the League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council! It is hard to believe how fast time flies. My year as President of the Volunteer Council has already been very busy with meetings in Nashville and in New York at the League office.

We met in late October at the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and began our discussion of volunteer content at Conference. We were welcomed by our local liaison, Kathleen McCracken, and had the opportunity to hear from Alan Valentine, CEO of the NSO, and key members of his team. They are excited to welcome attendees and showcase their beautiful venue, talented orchestra, and vibrant city with a conference to be remembered!

Since returning from Nashville, I have been hard at work together with Volunteer Council members and League Liaison Derek Weagle turning our Conference program and session ideas into reality. The post-conference surveys gave us valuable information and as a result we are making changes and additions based on what YOU have suggested. Conference Chair Linda Stevens highlights changes in this issue.

Also this fall in New York City, I represented the Council at a League Board of Directors meeting led by League President and CEO Jesse Rosen and Board Chair Doug Hagerman. I had the opportunity to see close up the focus the Board places on supporting orchestras. Two of the many ways they are addressing issues of critical importance for our orchestras include:

  1. Being part of the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) along with The Sphinx Organization and the New World Symphony. The Alliance, launched in 2018, is an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras.
  2. Advocating for in-school music education by asking people to sign the Statement of Common Cause. You can learn more about this on the League website.

Each year, the League and the Volunteer Council provide a conference that is invaluable to its constituency. Read all about our plans for the Nashville League Conference in the next articles. My thanks to the League of American Orchestras and the Volunteer Council for allowing me to be part of this group of talented individuals.

Tiffany Ammerman, President 2018 - 2019 | tifn2@yahoo.com

League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council

Five Things to Know About Conference

JUNE 2 - 5, 2018

1. Feedback from Conference 2018

We are using feedback from the Chicago Conference to shape the volunteer programs in Nashville. Volunteers told us they want more information on leadership, more informal networking time, and electives that appeal to both volunteers and orchestra staff. In addition, they requested a larger space for presentations and logistical guidance. As we develop the Conference volunteer programming (“volunteer track”), it is our intention to address these requests.

2. Conference Location

Omni Downtown Nashville Hotel

250 5th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203


The Omni Nashville will serve as headquarters and main meeting spaces; there will also be events held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony.

3. Hotel Reservations

The League’s group rate is $249/night + tax (single/double) for the period of June 1-6, 2019. Call the Hotel at 615 782 5300 and ask for the group reservation agent handling the League of American Orchestras “room block.” Book rooms now; downtown Nashville will be sold out this week for other events!

4. Conference Registration

Registration will open around February 15th, 2019.

Check back at the League Website for updates!

5. Volunteer Track Timeline

The following is our current plan for volunteers attending Conference. Specifics may change as the League finalizes all programming.

Sunday, June 2 (arrival)

7pm Dine-Around Dinners at local restaurants (pay your own way)

Monday, June 3

8:30am Volunteer Track Begins

11:30am Networking Lunch*

1:00pm Opening Session for all Conference attendees

2:45pm Volunteer Track continues

7:00pm Nashville Symphony Performance*

Tuesday, June 4

8:45am Volunteer networking and elective sessions

5:00pm Open Evening for dinner and country music!

Wednesday, June 5 (departure)

8:45am Volunteer Track continues

3:00pm Conference ends

* requires purchasing a ticket during Conference registration

Gold Book Awards of Excellence: Announcing the 2019 Winners!

by Cindy Kidwell

Innovation, best practice, return on investment, volunteer involvement, and impact describe projects from across the nation that will be featured during the League of American Orchestras National Conference in Nashville this June. Six Gold Book Award of Excellence Winners, chosen from submissions on the volunteer website, will be recognized and featured during Volunteer Track sessions.

Enjoy a thumbnail sketch of each project to get a glimpse of what you will learn in Nashville from the presentations of these award-winning projects. The following are listed in alphabetical order by symphony name. Congratulations to each Award of Excellence winner; we look forward to hearing details about your projects in Nashville!

2017 President’s Holiday Reception—with a Peppermint Twist

The Symphony Guild of Charlotte, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

The Guild leadership faced a big challenge—how to create an event that would engage leadership in serious strategic discussions without creating one more meeting. The result—a “bring your own chili mug” buffet dinner and lively retreat paired with the President’s annual holiday reception for board members and committee chairs.

Dia de los Muertos

West Suburban Friends of Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Sinfonietta

A unique fundraising event inspired by traditions of Mexican origin, Dia de los Muertos, featured dinner, a silent auction, and face painting. Guests were encouraged to arrive in costume and were treated to a mariachi band and an authentic Mexican menu. Volunteers not only generated a healthy net profit, but also met their goal to increase ticket sales and introduce new subscribers to the orchestra.

Friendship & Fellowship—Finding Our Sustainers

Women’s Symphony League of Tyler, East Texas Symphony Orchestra

Supporting active membership and the League’s administrative budget, sustaining memberships were on the decline. WSL leadership set a lofty goal of increasing sustaining membership to 200–an addition of 75 members. This League took a closer look at what drives membership, developed a plan of action, and achieved its goal!

2018 Houston Symphony Ball: The Balinese Room & Silent Auction

Houston Symphony League, Houston Symphony Orchestra

Volunteers for the annual Ball were focused on bringing new life to the Ball’s silent auction. Profits soared with three new ideas: five creatively assembled packages of symphony experiences from across the country; a pay-to-play “grab bag” game featuring upscale donations from exclusive shops of River Oaks; and annual memberships to a variety of Houston museums and other cultural centers.

Kansas City Symphony Ball 2017 – “An Evening in Vienna”

Kansas City Symphony League, Kansas City Symphony

Vienna and its romantic waltzes inspired League volunteers for their annual gala. The Ball joined together individuals, local businesses, and the arts community for one elegant evening—and more! The League honored benefactors three nights before the ball, and featured the Kansas City Ballet and Symphony together at the ball, and two months later, the League sponsored a shopping spree to boost total earnings.

Symphony of the City “Art and Architecture of Waco”

Waco Symphony Council, Waco Symphony Orchestra

Replacing two established fundraising events which had “run their course” led the Waco Symphony Council to create “Symphony of the City,” a progressive cocktail party in unique homes of Waco. The mechanics of planning a party on the move, developing new volunteer roles, community engagement, and managing change were critical in achieving their goal.

Start Planning Future Gold Book Winners Now!

When you’re knee deep in planning for your current projects or events, take a few moments to evaluate whether they would be applicable to other volunteer organizations and worthy of recognition. It is not too early to identify that new initiative, successful program, or special event to submit for award consideration.

Deadline for submissions will be August 31, 2019. Get a head start by reviewing your award-worthy 2018-19 projects now! Eligible project categories include education, audience development/community engagement, communications and technology, fundraising, service, leadership, and membership. Winners will be recognized at the 2020 League Conference.

Your Volunteer Council Exists to Help You

by Tiffany Ammerman

The League’s Volunteer Council members represent 19 volunteer associations affiliated with orchestras from coast to coast supporting orchestra volunteers nationwide. Our mission is to lead, advocate, and champion volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras’ community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.

Presently, the Volunteer Council is made up of recognized community leaders from Arkansas, Alabama, California (AMSOV Liaison), Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas, Utah, and Washington who have demonstrated outstanding support of their orchestras and are committed to the goals of the League. The number of members in the Volunteer Council consists of a suggested minimum of 16 and maximum of 24 persons who may be elected for two three-year consecutive terms. Nominations are submitted to the Member Recruitment Committee for qualification screening. We strive to have representation from a range of orchestra sizes and geographic locations.

The VC is committed to the ongoing education of its members to meet the current and future needs of the volunteer associations in support of their orchestras. The Volunteer Council partners and interfaces with League staff members to provide the following services for volunteers:

  • Sessions especially for orchestra volunteers at the League’s National Conference
  • Volunteer Notes, a newsletter specifically for volunteers available at americanorchestras.org
  • The League’s Resource Center provides statistical and how-to information on all aspects of volunteer management from sample bylaws to recruiting tips and membership brochures. These resources are available to all volunteers.
  • A library of cost-free webinars on subjects ranging from membership and fundraising to leadership development and strategic planning.
  • A network of experienced volunteers and professionals who can provide consultations to orchestras upon request.

A Facebook page for volunteers (See the following article on how to join the group.)

In addition, each fall, members of the Volunteer Council (VC) facilitate Strategic Conversations, a multiple-week conference call series for volunteer association presidents and presidents-elect. On these calls we discuss governance, leadership development, member recruitment and retention, fundraising, and other topics. It is always amazing how much volunteers have in common, regardless of location or size of their home orchestras, and how the conversations and solutions suggested can be beneficial to all. The agendas for these conversations are guided by the participants and developed during the first call. The group, in a safe environment, is encouraged to discuss issues, successes, changes, challenges and problems that occur with different personalities. The League and VC share tools and experiences to assist the orchestra volunteer leaders with these issues.

Symphony magazine continues to be one of the most popular assets of the League. You may log on to americanorchestras.org and read the issues on your phone, tablet, or desktop. There is so much information on the website, please visit to take advantage of this valuable information.

Resource Spotlight

by Janet Cabot

Planning to hold a silent auction at your next fundraiser? Wishing it didn’t take so much work? Consider taking your auction online with 32auctions.com. This resource is a low cost way to create a silent auction, add auction items and then sit back and get bids. No need to set up an auction display or handle check out at the end of the evening.

Friends of the League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council

Our closed group on Facebook is a way to connect and share with fellow symphony volunteers from around the country and a great resource for the upcoming Conference in Nashville. We’ll post:

  • Tips for registering and maximizing your experience at Conference
  • Options for our Dine Around networking evening with links to each restaurant
  • Highlights of key “don’t miss” sessions planned for attendees.

Our Facebook group is open to those involved or affiliated with symphony orchestras and their volunteer organizations. To join, email jbcabot52@gmail.com and receive an “invitation.” Please spread the word to others who might be interested to join.

The Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras

Volunteer Council 2018-2019 | Left, Front to Back: Derek Weagle, Sheri Gill, Sharon Hatchett, Sandy Feldman, Janet Cabot, Laurie Skjerseth, Linda Stevens, Bruce Colquhoun, Ginny Lundquist; Right, Front to Back: Tiffany Ammerman, Cindy Kidwell, Beth Wise, Becky Odland, Terry Ann White, Tresa Radermacher, Julie Meredith; Not Pictured: Camille Williams

Your Volunteer Council works to bring together the best ideas, best projects and best practices from volunteers around the country to share with you at Conference and through various resources.


Tiffany Ammerman, Marshall Symphony, TX | President

Becky Odland, Minnesota Orchestra, MN | Immediate Past President

Terry Ann White, Amarillo Symphony, TX | President-Elect

Linda Stevens, Kansas City Symphony, MO | Conference Chair

Tresa Radermacher, Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, IN | Conference Chair-Elect


Janet Cabot, Madison Symphony Orchestra, WI

Bruce Colquhoun, Spokane Symphony, WA

Sandy Feldman, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, MD

Sharon Hatchett, Chicago Sinfonietta, IL

Cindy Kidwell, East Texas Symphony Orchestra, TX

Ginny Lundquist, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, MI

Julie Meredith, Utah Symphony, UT

Laurie Skjerseth, Quad City Symphony, IA

Terry Ann White, Amarillo Symphony, TX

Camille Williams, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, AR

Beth Wise, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, AL

Ex-Officio Members

Sheri Gill, AMSOV President, Los Angeles Philharmonic, CA

Kathleen McCracken, 2019 Conference Liaison-Nashville, Nashville Symphony, TN

Laura Hyde, Heather Moore and Helen Shaffer, Volunteer Council Sustainer Liaisons, TX

Marylou Turner, Sustainer Mentoring Program Chair, Kansas City Symphony, MO

Derek J. Weagle, Liaison to the Volunteer Council, League of American Orchestras, NY


Created with images by Jonathan Tieh - "The Golden Hall of the Musikverein Wien" • BriBra - "chicago bean chicago mirror" • geralt - "facebook internet network"

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