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Stern Grove Festival opens on Sunday

The Stern Grove Festival
The Stern Grove Festival
Courtesy Stern Grove Festival - with permission

With the arrival of summer, San Francisco residents and visitors can once more look forward to the annual season of outdoor performances presented by the Stern Grove Festival. The 77th Festival opens on Sunday, June 22, and promises a 10-week line-up of top class entertainment - entirely free of charge, in one of San Francisco’s most beautiful natural settings, Sigmund Stern Grove.

Since the Festival was established in 1938, its mission has been to provide access to the performing arts for everyone, so every Sunday, for 10 weeks, around 10,000 concert-goers converge on the Grove, with their picnic baskets, deck-chairs, cushions and rugs, to enjoy the series of open-air concerts by a diverse range of artists from around the world.

Prior to the opening concert on Sunday afternoon, the festivities will get off to a grand start with the third annual fundraiser, The Big Picnic, a ticketed party held to enable the Stern Grove Festival to offer admission-free performances and outreach programs for all. The Picnic, which takes place at 11.30 am, will be followed by the first concert of the season, at 2.00 pm.
Headlining both the benefit picnic and the opening concert are two very popular performers - the legendary R&B artist Smokey Robinson, and versatile Grammy award-winner Patti Austin.

In the following weeks, featured artists include Allen Stone - who describes himself as “a hippie with soul” - and Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, with her program of contemporary pop, acoustic folk, and R&B.

The Festival's perennial classical partner, the San Francisco Symphony, led this year by Edwin Outwater, is certainly likely to draw the crowds, with a program of American music by Bernstein, Mancini, Gould, Scott and Hanson, as well as two works by Ravel - his Pavane pour une infant défunte and a version of his Boléro, with jazz improvisations.

Funky Meters present their unique New Orleans style of funk, blues and dance music, the Grove will swing to the sounds of Cuba with Pupy y Los Que Son Son, and reverberate to the fiery African blues rock of virtuoso guitarist Vieux Farka Touré.

Rufus Wainwright, on solo piano, presents his repertoire of theatrical pop, cabaret and classical pieces, and Quartet San Francisco give their own interpretation of the sound of chamber music.

Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Andrew Bird and The Hands of Glory, present a mix of early jazz, country blues, gypsy music and pop, while bassist and composer Todd Sickafoose appears with a performance of progressive jazz. Darlene Love brings her classic Motown sound to Stern Grove, and Brazilian jazz superstar, Sergio Mendes, is sure to be a hot ticket, with his ever popular bossa nova, jazz and funk.

San Francisco talent is represented by LoCura - with its eclectic mix of rumba, rock, flamenco and funk - as well as indie folk group Vetiver, and the season ends on a high note with a performance by legendary 60s psychedelic rock group, The Zombies.

The 77th Stern Grove Festival takes place from June 22 through August 24 at Sigmund Stern Grove, 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, San Francisco.

The Big Picnic begins with a ticketed benefit party, followed by the admission-free concert at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for the party are available on The Festival’s website at www.sterngrove.org.