Kay Drey has always adored music. She remembers attending The Muny in Forest Park as a kid—sitting with her sister on their parents’ laps. She started playing the violin in grade school. “I was the last chair violinist in high school, probably because I never practiced, even though I loved the music,” she says. “I had a great orchestra teacher—it wasn’t his fault! We got along very well. He was glad I didn’t mind being last because someone had to do it.”
Kay and her late husband Leo began attending the SLSO regularly soon after they were married and before the SLSO moved into Powell Hall. From conversations with SLSO musician friends, Kay knew that the then–St. Louis Theatre had excellent acoustics. When she heard the movie house was going on the market, she picked up the phone, got a meeting with the mayor, and urged him to help make the venue a home for the SLSO. “I was at the SLSO’s opening night gala at Powell Hall,” she says. “It was astounding. I’m very glad for the role I played.”
Kay has had the same seats in Powell Hall since it became the SLSO’s home in 1968—in the balcony on the left, where she can watch the guest pianists’ hands and observe the connection between the orchestra and the conductor. If she cannot attend a performance, she shares her tickets, including with friends who might not otherwise experience the SLSO. She has always cared deeply for the well-being of St. Louis and is happy to see the rich cultural life evident in the revitalized Grand Center Arts District.
An activist with myriad interests, Kay places great value on the SLSO’s education programs. She supports the annual series of Education Concerts at Powell Hall because, she says, “everyone loves music.” Kay wants to ensure that orchestral music is accessible to all children, whether or not they can afford to study an instrument, and she cares deeply about music education in public schools—her own children enjoyed music classes at University City public schools. She looks forward to coming to Education Concerts and seeing the kids’ delight in the music of the SLSO and the splendor of Powell Hall. “My favorite instrument is the orchestra,” says Kay. “I take great personal pride in the SLSO and in St. Louis.”