By Caitlin Custer
Steve and Linda Finerty are quick to share their love of music: “We’re not music experts, we just love how it makes you feel, and we listen to anything and everything, all the time!” Experts or not, get them talking about the SLSO, and their care for the orchestra is obvious. The root of that care is their generations-long personal connection to the SLSO.
Linda had an uncle who first inspired the Finertys’ charitable efforts. “His life was so enriched by giving to others. I give him, along with a few others, so much credit for teaching us about philanthropy and showing us how to get involved,” says Steve.
Steve also credits his mother for instilling in him a love of music. “She was a phenomenal pianist and would practice at least an hour every day. When my sister and I walked home from school, we’d start to hear her from two blocks away. It’s a very fond memory.”
Steve was introduced to the business side of the SLSO in the late 1990s, when finances were dire. Jack C. Taylor and his family stepped up to help restore the financial stability of the orchestra. The Taylors asked Steve to help design and manage the endowment trust to best protect the legacy of the SLSO. “The Taylors and many others wanted to be sure this situation would never happen again,” says Steve. “It was challenging and interesting to assist in developing the trust structure, and I was the head of the trust board for the next sixteen years.”
Meanwhile, Linda got to know the orchestra by, among other things, bringing her children to family concerts. “The concerts were so cute, so much fun, and a wonderful, important program for so many children. I learned as much about orchestral music as the children.”
Music education is still important to the Finertys. Steve sees it as a major part of audience development, one of his priorities as SLSO board chair. “I want to make sure we continue to think about the right mix of repertoire to interest and build bridges with our community in St. Louis, and also around the world.”
SLSO Board Chair Steve Finerty, Music Director Stéphane Denève, and President & CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard celebrate Stéphane's contract extension.
Their son, Logan, now serves on the SLSO Advisory Council, a group of local leaders who help support the orchestra’s mission. “Our daughter-in-law, Logan’s wife, Adela, is from the Czech Republic. Logan took Adela’s mother to an SLSO concert at Powell Hall and she was blown away by the caliber of this orchestra—and this is someone who goes to Vienna if she wants to take in a concert!”
Whether local or global, the idea of community is at the core of the Finertys’ involvement with the orchestra. “The cultural institutions of a community say a lot about that place. We all benefit from the arts. They broaden our horizons and help us engage with people who look and think differently than we do,” says Steve.
When asked why someone should donate to the SLSO, Steve replies: “The SLSO is so important to the region. It’s not just a great local orchestra, it is a world-renowned orchestra. Supporting and sustaining it makes St. Louis a much better community. I really believe that and, as a result, Linda and I have always felt we get back so much more from our gifts than what we give.”
Steve and Linda are establishing the Finerty Family Challenge to inspire others to give to the SLSO. Starting next month and running through the end of summer, this challenge will match new and increased gifts to the SLSO.
Join the challenge with a donation to the SLSO here.
Caitlin Custer is the SLSO's Communications Manager.