Stern Grove Festival
832 Folsom Street, Suite 1000
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: 415.252.6252 Fax: 415.252.6250 info@sterngrove.org

About

Stern Grove Festival Association is a non-profit cultural organization committed to providing the people of the Bay Area with admission-free access to diverse performing arts.

Every year since 1938, the organization presents Stern Grove Festival, an admission-free performing arts series, in Sigmund Stern Grove, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

In 2016 Stern Grove Festival presents its 79th Season.

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About

Stern Grove Festival is...

 

A summer celebration for the community.

An experience to share with family and friends.

A stunning venue for world-class, admission-free performances.

A place to make life-long memories.

 

Stern Grove Festival provides an annual season of admission-free concerts and education programs to the people of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Every summer, Stern Grove Festival takes place in Sigmund Stern Grove, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.

The Festival is presented by Stern Grove Festival Association, a non-profit cultural organization with a mission of providing admission-free access to diverse performing arts.

The Festival is for the community and made possible by the community; it is almost entirely funded by donations, raising more than $3 million a year to make free performing arts available to all.

In 2016, Stern Grove Festival presents its 79th Season.

 

Mission

Stern Grove Festival Association was founded in 1938 with a mission that guides the organization to this day:

  • Provide high quality performances, free of charge, for all Bay Area residents and visitors.
  • Provide paid performance opportunities for professional artists and performers.
  • Serve diverse audiences by presenting a season of varied genres and artists.
  • Enhance San Francisco's renown as a cultural center.

 

 

History

In the summer of 2016, Stern Grove Festival will present its 79th Season of admission-free concerts in San Francisco's treasured Sigmund Stern Grove.

Stern Grove was purchased by Rosalie M. Stern and given as a gift to the City of San Francisco in 1931, in memory of her husband Sigmund, a prominent civic leader.

George Greene originally homesteaded the Grove, a tract of sand dunes and marshes, in the 1840's. The Greene family planted the first eucalyptus trees in the Grove and built the Trocadero Inn, a popular recreation spot until its closure in 1916.

Marveling at the Grove's natural acoustics, Mrs. Stern determined that the site would be preserved as a park in which the public could enjoy admission-free music, dance, and theater performances.

On June 4, 1932, Stern Grove was dedicated. Two weeks later, the San Francisco Symphony played the first concert in the Grove. Mrs. Stern, then President of the San Francisco Recreation Commission, formed the non-profit Stern Grove Festival Association in 1938, stipulating that all concerts were to be free to the public and designed for everyone's enjoyment.

Mrs. Stern chaired the Festival until her death in 1956. Her daughter, Elise Stern Haas, served as chairman until 1969; she was succeeded by her daughter, Rhoda Haas Goldman. Following Rhoda Goldman's untimely death in 1996, her son, Dr. Douglas E. Goldman, became Festival Chairman.

Today Stern Grove, a natural amphitheater surrounded by giant eucalyptus, redwood, and fir trees, is one of Northern California's favorite concert sites.

In keeping with Mrs. Stern's vision, the wide selection of performers reflects the Festival's commitment to exceptional programming and to serving diverse audiences. A beloved Bay Area tradition, every summer Sunday, family and friends gather to relax, picnic, and enjoy performances by some of the world's greatest artists in this glorious natural setting.

While Stern Grove itself is still owned and operated by the City of San Francisco, and Mrs. Stern's descendants remain actively involved, today the Festival is truly a community institution. Each year, the Festival must raise nearly $3 million to produce concerts and related outreach and education programs. Individual donors, volunteers, foundations, government agencies, and businesses provide the generous support that makes it all possible.

Stern Grove Festival has brought seven decades of the best performing arts — completely admission-free — to the people of the Bay Area. With your ongoing help, the Festival can continue for generations to come.

 

Festival Timeline

1847 Stern Grove site homesteaded by Alfred Greene and his wife.
1847

Alfred Greene's nephew, George, plants the first eucalyptus trees on the property.

April 21, 1869 Rosalie Meyer is born.  
1892 Alfred Greene builds the "Trocadero Inn", a suburban resort.  
October 3, 1892

Sigmund Stern and Rosalie Meyer marry in San Francisco, at her parents' home on the corner of Pine and Gough.

 
1919

Rosalie Meyer Stern joins the San Francisco Playground Commission and, with Sigmund, begins a search for a suitable property to donate to the City for recreational purposes.

 
April 24, 1928

Sigmund Stern passes away.

 
April 14, 1931

Rosalie Meyer Stern buys the Greene family's 12 acres of land for $50,000. She names the site Sigmund Stern Grove in honor of her husband.

 
Sept. 16, 1931

Mrs. Stern offers the Grove to San Francisco Mayor Angelo Rossi to be used expressly for recreational activities. Renovation work begins shortly after with the architects Gardiner Daily, Bernard Maybeck, and William Gladstone Merchant.

 
June 4, 1932

Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove is officially dedicated by Mayor Rossi.

 
June 19, 1932

First official concert in Stern Grove, featuring the San Francisco Symphony, Gaetano Merola conducting.

 
1938

Stern Grove Festival Association is founded to present "a summer series that is distinctly a forward mark in newness, "designed to educate and entertain the public."

 
July 10, 1938 First summer concert of the first Stern Grove Festival, performed by the Bay Region Symphony of the Federal Music Project. The first season ran every Sunday until September 25 (12 programs) and the San Francisco Symphony performed twice.  
Aug. 22, 1943 San Francisco Ballet performs at Stern Grove Festival.  
Feb. 8, 1956 Rosalie Meyer Stern passes away.  
Feb. 15, 1956 Elise Stern Haas, Rosalie's daughter, is named Festival chairman.

 

1959 San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program's first performance, Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann.  
1963 The Festival celebrates its 25th Anniversary Season with a performance by the San Francisco Symphony. Ansel Adams, in the audience that day, takes a series of photographs of the Grove.

 

1966 First jazz concert in the Grove, with Turk Murphy, John Handy, Rudy Salvini, and Vince Guaraldi. The performance was taped and televised nationally on the Bell Telephone Hour in 1967.  
1968 Rhoda Goldman, Elise S. Haas's daughter, becomes Festival chairman.

 

1969 Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs for the first time at Stern Grove Festival. They performed nearly every year since then up to 1999.  
1972 Isaac Stern performs with the San Francisco Symphony at Stern Grove in celebration of his 80th birthday. Mstislav Rostropovich performs in a tutu.  
July 15, 1979 Pete Seeger appears at Stern Grove Festival.  
1980 Documentary on Stern Grove airs on PBS stations across the country.  
1987 The Festival celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season.  
1996 Rhoda Goldman passes away. Her son, Dr. Douglas E. Goldman assumes the chairmanship of the Festival.  
Aug. 12, 2001 Tabla Beat Science World Premiere featuring Zakir Hussain, Ustad Sultan Khan and more. The show is recorded and released on PALM records.  
Aug. 3, 2003 Oliver Mtukudzi performs and Bonnie Raitt joins him onstage for a song.  
Aug. 15, 2004 John Hammond performs at the last concert before the renovation.  
Aug. 1, 2004 Construction begins on the renovation of Sigmund Stern Grove.  
June 2, 2005 The Festival's inaugural gala is held in Stern Grove.  
June 19, 2005

Stern Grove Festival kicks off its 68th Season with the opening of the newly renovated Sigmund Stern Grove with a concert featuring Lucinda Williams and John Doe.

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Supervisor Bevan Dufty declares "Stern Grove Festival Day" in San Francisco.

 

 

July 10, 2005 Khaled performs with surprise guest artist Carlos Santana.  
June 24, 2012 Stern Grove Festival's 75th Season kicks off with The Big Picnic, featuring Anita Baker, The Family Stone and Glide Ensemble.  

The Renovation of Stern Grove

In 1999, Stern Grove Festival embarked on an ambitious project to completely upgrade and renovate Sigmund Stern Grove park.

The park had never undergone any major renovations since the 1930's and the facilities were out of date.

Nearly seven decades of concerts and more than six million visitors had taken their toll on Stern Grove. For many years, the park suffered from sub-standard stage and production facilities, hillside erosion,dilapidated patron amenities, and limited access for the physically challenged.

The Festival determine that, without a complete renovation, the future of this wonderful community treasure would be jeopardized.

 

The Vision

The vision for the renovation was inspired by three goals:

  • Create a one-of-a-kind performing arts venue with state-of-the-art features
  • Enhance and protect the natural beauty of Stern Grove
  • Endow the Festival’s mission for generations to come

Stern Grove, pre-renovation
Existing conditions

Backstage Before

The Plan

The new design would preserve the beauty and integrity of Stern Grove while creating a safe, comfortable, and sustainable environment for visitors. With the renovations, Stern Grove would become an enduring symbol of San Francisco’s diversity, culture, and natural splendor.

  • Terrace concert meadow with stonework, increasing safety, comfort, and accessibility.
  • Replace stage and backstage structures with modern facilities, including a removable fabric stage cover and state-of-the-art sound system.
  • Improve access for disabled patrons.
  • Replace inadequate restroom facilities and patron amenities.
  • Upgrade infrastructure, including utilities, irrigation and lighting.
  • Resurface trails and repair stone walls to mitigate erosion on northern hillside.
  • Create a new entry plaza at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.

Rendering

Rendering

The Visionary

While attending a concert at Stern Grove Festival, the world-renowned landscape architect, the late Lawrence Halprin, sketched on a picnic napkin the beginning of what would become the masterplan for the renovation of Stern Grove.

When the time came to begin the renovation process, The Festival called on Halprin to design the improvement plan for Stern Grove. One of the world’s leading landscape architects and environmental planners, Lawrence Halprin was at the forefront of urban design innovation in the United States. His careful vision for Stern Grove respected the singular qualities of the park and its reputations as a wonderful sanctuary in the heart of the city.

Lawrence Halprin

The late Lawrence Halprin

The Process

Stern Grove is a beloved destination for concert-goers, neighborns, and park visitors. The Festival embarked on the renovation with input and involvement from the community at every step. Throughout the design and planning process, the project team held numerous public meetings and workshops where the public provided crucial feedback on priorities for improving the park.

Stern Grove Festival raised the $15 million needed to design and implement the renovation plan. The entire renovation was funded completey with private contributions, extending the Festival's legacy as a gift to the people of San Francisco.

At the final concert of the 67th Season, audience members raised their glasses and waved farewell to the old Stern Grove. On August 4, 2004, construction began on the renovation project.

On June 19, 2005, the Festival kicked off its 68th Season with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the first season in the new Stern Grove. Supervisor Bevan Dufty declared "Stern Grove Festival Day" in San Francisco and Lucinda Williams and John Doe performed under sunny skies.

Construction

Construction

Renovated Stern Grove Backstage

Panorama

The Team

Lawrence Halprin
Landscape Architect

San Francisco Department of Public Works
Judi Mosqueda, Project Manager

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

Conversion Management Associates
Project Manager

Vance Brown
General Contractor

Chad Hamilton, AIA
Hamilton + Aitken Architects
Architect

GFDS Engineers
Structural Engineer

Miller Pacific Engineering Group
Geotechnical Engineer

MHC Engineers
Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer

Richard McRee
Skycover®

C&N Engineers
Electrical Engineer

Nolte Associates, Inc.
Civil Engineer

Board

Stern Grove Festival Board of Directors

Douglas E. Goldman, Chairman
Robin W. Michel, Vice Chairman
Deborah E. Gallegos, CTP, Treasurer
Gregory L. Lippetz, Secretary
Elizabeth Shepherd Bourgeois
Britt A. Deyan
Barry W. Dennis
Liz Briggs Farrell
Jason E. Goldman
Jennifer R. Goldman
Matthew W. Goldman
David Katznelson
Kathryn Kimball
Jordan Kurland
Fiona Ma
Danielle Madeira
Nanette Lee Miller
Bert Polacci
Chris Qvale
Stephen B. Ruben
Deva Santiago
Mark C. Schulze
Aaron P. Waxman

 

Staff

Joey Babbitt
Development and Community Affairs Manager
jbabbitt@sterngrove.org

Merylee Smith Bingham
Accountant
accounting@sterngrove.org

Amy Haltom
Outreach and Education Manager
ahaltom@sterngrove.org

Joseph Lafond
Operations Manager
jlafond@sterngrove.org

Judy Tsang
Director of Programming
jtsang@sterngrove.org

Monica Ware
Interim Executive Director
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
mware@sterngrove.org

David Whitman
Volunteer Coordinator

volunteer@sterngrove.org

Jessica Zeidman
Director of Development
jzeidman@sterngrove.org

2016 Season Staff

Anne Abrams, Publicist
Clyde Brehm, Jr., Parking Manager
Jamie DuBose, Development and Events Assistant
Lynesha Kately, Programming and Outreach Assistant
Paulo Presotto, Production Manager
Lauren Seward, Marketing and PR Assistant

 

Partners

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

McLaren Lodge
501 Stanyan Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.831.2700
sfrecpark.org

A longtime partner of Stern Grove Festival, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department's mission is to provide enriching recreational activities, maintain beautiful parks, and preserve the environment for the well-being of our diverse community.

Stern Grove Festival is a collaboration with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and Commission.

San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission

Mark Buell, President
Allan Low, Vice President
Gloria Bonilla
Tom Harrison
Meagan Levitan
Eric McDonnell

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department Staff

Phil Ginsburg, General Manager
Dennis Kern, Director of Operations
Eric Andersen, Superintendent of Parks & Open Spaces
Dana Ketcham, Permits & Reservations Manager
Bob Palacio, Superintendent of Neighborhood Services
David Iribarne, Park Service Area Manager
Simon Jansuk, Park Section Supervisor
Marcus Santiago, Head Park Patrol Officer
Andrew Sharkey, Park Section Captain

Click here for information on renting facilities at Stern Grove for a wedding or event.

Stern Grove Festival thanks the residents of the Sunset and Parkside neighborhoods for their cooperation and support. Special thanks, also, to Captain Denise Flaherty and all the officers at Taraval Station, San Francisco Police Department.


Jobs

Updated June 6, 2016

There are currently no positions available with Stern Grove Festival.

Contact

Stern Grove Festival staff can be reached year-round:

Stern Grove Festival Association
832 Folsom Street, Suite 1000
San Francisco, CA 94107


Phone: 415.252.6252
Fax: 415.252.6250

Questions? Comments?
Email: info@sterngrove.org

 

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