Winter Solstice Playlist

In honor of the Winter Solstice, here’s a playlist featuring all local, Bay Area artists. Cuddle up with a blanket and a warm beverage and enjoy the sounds of the season, Bay Area style!

Kids Camp Fuels Creativity

Stern Grove Festival’s Kids Camps build confidence and creativity through music

I am the hope
I am the dream
Of my neighborhood
Listen to me

This past summer, nearly 60 kids participated in Stern Grove Festival’s Kids Camp in Residence at Joseph Lee Recreation Center in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. Working with local artists, Kids Camp participants created their own electronic beats on iPads, wrote verses to accompany their compositions, and choreographed dance moves.

Over a five-day period, participants who had little to no experience in making music or writing songs created poignant and inspiring works of art. One group crafted a song they titled “Bayview Everyday.” The rap drew inspiration from the change they see taking place in their neighborhood, change that is leaving many Bayview families behind or forcing them out of their community.

“Bayview Everyday”

Born and raised in the Bayview
With family and friends that God gave you
Get my education out here in school
And I be at MLK swimming pool
I go to the park out here in the city
Walk around my neighborhood and never drop a penny
My mom drops me off at Youngblood
I have fun with my friends and start to unplug
I like to play at Joe Lee Park
Then I go home when it gets dark
I woke up in the morning and went to school
After that I went to the pool
They’re building something new by my house
It costs too much so we have to get out
My family moved to Chinatown
But the Bayview is where I get down

Given the space and guidance to find their voices and inspiration, the Kids Campers created pieces that were deeply personal. The creative process was transformative and empowering for both the kids and the instructors.

“What I enjoyed most about the Kids Camp was seeing their eyes light up as they learned to create beats and the pure excitement, elation, and pride they exhibited when they wanted to share what they had done,” notes local artist Kev Choice, who led the beat-making workshops with the Kids Campers. “Having that connection with the kids, exposing them to a new creative outlet, and seeing how it opened up a new world of discovery and seeing their talents blossom was very fulfilling.”

Instructors also included local dancer Jessica Recinos, founder of Rising Rhythm Project, and local poet/spoken word artist Obasi Davis, the 2013 Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland.

A growing body of research indicates that arts education can contribute to positive outcomes in childhood and youth development, both academically and socially. A study by UCLA professor James Catterall, for example, found that socioeconomically disadvantaged students who participated in arts experiences tended to have higher educational achievement than did similar students with no or less involvement with the arts.

But to prove the impact of music and art, you need look no further than the joy and pride on the Kids Campers’ faces as they performed their pieces. All it takes is that first spark of excitement to ignite creative possibilities and energy in young people’s minds. Through free and accessible concerts and education programs like Kids Camp, Stern Grove Festival is that spark.

Movement and Meaning: San Francisco Ballet and Kaiser Permanente’s Parkinson’s Dance Class at the Grove

Stern Grove Festival is committed to building and celebrating community through shared experiences of music and dance.

This past summer, as part of that commitment, Stern Grove Festival hosted a special dance class in the Grove on July 29 at the San Francisco Ballet performance. More than 6,000 audience members were transformed into performers when a group of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients on stage led the crowd in a demonstration of their dance class.

The PD dancers on the stage that day all take part in a free dance class series offered by San Francisco Ballet and Kaiser Permanente. The classes are taught by San Francisco Ballet School Adult Ballet Faculty Member Cecelia Beam and feature live piano accompaniment. Classes are designed to bring the joy of dance to individuals with PD by engaging them in dances designed to draw out artistic expression, while also addressing specific concerns like balance, flexibility, isolation, and depression.

Making the arts accessible to all and creating new ways to connect with people of all backgrounds are part of what makes the Festival experience so special. Stern Grove Festival was honored to work with our longtime partners at San Francisco Ballet and one of our 81st Season sponsors, Kaiser Permanente, to share this unique experience at the Grove.

Click here to learn more about the PD patient dance classes offered by San Francisco Ballet and Kaiser Permanente.


Meet Your Office Yoga Instructor: Maryam Sharifzadeh

Calling all Stern Grove Festival Yogis! Join Office Yoga this Sunday from 12:00-1:00 p.m. for the final yoga class in the West Meadow! This class will be taught by Maryam Sharifzadeh, owner of Office Yoga and creator of the Office Yoga Teacher Training program.

Maryam started teaching Office Yoga in San Francisco in 2011. It didn’t take her long to realize the immense benefits and positive impact of this service. She quickly registered for her business license in 2014 and since then has grown nationwide, including Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Phoenix, New Jersey and New York.

Headquartered in San Francisco Bay Area, which is home for Maryam and Office Yoga, she has had the privilege of teaching the Stern Grove Festival staff at their office on a weekly basis. Every Wednesday the team gathers together for Office Yoga’s signature 30 min, “No Sweat” class format using the conference table and chairs.

This Sunday you can expect Maryam’s class to be well rounded and user friendly. She will focus on meeting you where you are at and leaving you feeling alive in your body and ready to move! Here’s a little more about Maryam….

What do you love teaching yoga?

The transformation. I love seeing the positive change in people’s bodies and minds— they are more peaceful, happy people after a well rounded yoga class.

What can Stern Grove expect from your class?

A well rounded class that will leave you feeling alive in your body again!

What do you love about San Francisco? 

I love that San Francisco is always evolving. Change is a part of life and although it feels difficult at times, we grow from this process. This continuous evolution forces us to stay awake and present at all times. This city keeps us alive, that’s for sure!

What’s your most embarrassing teaching moment?

I was subbing a class early in the morning and I was new to the city. I was new to the studio I was teaching at, I was new to the San Francisco rain, I was new to biking—and I was wearing white pants. I didn’t realize at the moment but the back tire kicked up dirty rain water all down my low back and butt. I walked in not knowing of this mess, and halfway through class I saw a huge dirty streak right down the center of my butt. It was a rookie move on all accounts!

What pose do you love most right now and why?

Parsvottonasana, Pyramid Pose. My hamstrings are always tight and this is a good, accessible stretch to target the back of the legs. I particularly like doing this pose around the conference table. It’s more supportive and allows the upper body to relax which assists in a deeper, more effective hamstring stretch.

Anything else you would like to share?

It’s been such an honor hosting yoga classes during this 10-week concert series. I’ve fallen in love with the staff, the participants, and the meadow. I look forward to teaching the final class of the summer tomorrow!

Make sure to stake out your spot for The Revolution and Big Blue Soul Revue. The concert starts at 2:00 p.m.

Classes are beginner and kid friendly. Spare mats provided by Office Yoga and Lululemon. See you in the West Meadow, Stern Grove Festival Yogis!

Artist Interview: The Humidors

The HumidorsBay Area-based band The Humidors combine a dance floor-ready mix of hard-hitting funk, soul, vintage R&B, jazz, and more. This eight-piece group includes Justin Abee (percussion), Ben Corrie (keyboards/organ), Patrick Cress (Baritone Sax), Andre Cruz (lead vocals), Mike Mulqueen (guitar/vocals), Eric Podolsky (bass/vocals), and Adam Willis (drums).

The Festival commissioned The Humidors to create a new song to premiere at the Festival when they open the show for Booker T. Jones. Read on to learn more about this funky group’s influences and creative process, and don’t miss the premiere of their new song, “All Night”, at the concert on August 12 at Stern Grove Festival.

How would you describe your music?

The Humidors play dance music, first and foremost. We try to keep things interesting by throwing in some twists and turns, and strive for a poly-rhythmic approach where all eight members of the band are cogs that each play their part in the greater groove machine. We draw from the long tradition of Bay Area funk, driven by horns, percussion, and an infectious syncopation.

How does living in the Bay Area shape or affect your music?

It can be challenging for musicians performing original music to succeed in the Bay Area music scene, as there’s just so much to compete with. Certainly it’s an incredible place to live that attracts the best entertainment, and while it creates a competitive environment, it also sets an extremely high bar for us. For us to bring fans out on a Saturday night in San Francisco, they have to know that we’re gonna bring it. And if we can get people into it and get everyone going on the dance floor here, then it’s guaranteed that we can do it anywhere else.

What can people expect for your performance at Stern Grove Festival?

We usually play long sets, so this performance will be a distilled version of The Humidors, in a nutshell. Nothin’ but the hits! We’ll mostly be performing songs from our latest album, Movin’ The Needle, which we’re very proud of. We hope the Stern Grove crowd will be ready to party Sunday afternoon, as we plan to bring the funk

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

We’re inspired by the funk and R&B groups of the 1970’s, who played with an effortless swagger and grease that’s much harder to find these days.

Songwriting in The Humidors is a pretty collaborative process. Sometimes a member will bring an idea to the band and we’ll digest it and add new parts to it until it’s a song. Other times we’ll take a jam we’ve been messing around with and build upon that until it’s great. And rarely a member will present a fully composed piece to the group, and we’ll just play it that way and add our own swagger to it.

We’ve got lots of song fragments and ideas on the back burner that we haven’t developed yet cause they’re just not up to snuff yet to our ears. We’re all huge music fans, and if something we play or write doesn’t turn us on, we don’t expect it to turn the audience on either. Finding the time to put into a tune to craft it and make it great can be hard to find, and the process is often slower than we’d like, but it ensures that everything we play is funky enough for us.

This gig is a dream come true for us, and we can’t wait to see everyone in Stern Grove picnic mode surrounded by eucalyptus, getting down in the sun!






Meet Your Office Yoga Instructor: Betsy Peterson

Join Office Yoga this Sunday from 12-1 for a relaxing yoga class in the West Meadow!

Class will be taught by Betsy Peterson, a certified Office Yoga Instructor in the San Francisco community. Betsy will share her unique talent of singing during parts of the class to soothe the body and mind.

Betsy loves yoga, and loves sharing the practice with people all over the Bay Area and beyond. She thinks that yoga is mostly about just showing up to try—about its practice over perfection. She likes to encourage people to come as they are—each day, each moment—and just give it a shot! Let the ego rest, surrender the should/would/could, and say yes to what is. To practice yoga, Betsy thinks the main task is to do the best we can from where we are, and then have a little bit of faith that it’s enough.

Betsy studies with Stephanie Snyder and other senior instructors in the community. Betsy also received her 20 hr Office Yoga Instructor certification in March through Office Yoga’s teacher training program.

Betsy is known for bringing a unique mixture of a deep sense of reverence for the practice, along with some serious fun and joy to the process of doing yoga. By mindfully linking breath, movement, intention and flow together with inspiring music, Betsy helps students cultivate strength and ease on the mat, which then ripples out into the world.

Class is all levels and kid friendly. Spare mats provided by Office Yoga and Lululemon. Enjoy the performance by Femi Kuti & The Positive Force shortly after class!

Get to Know Our Neighbors in West Portal

Before or after a concert at Stern Grove Festival, visit our friends in the West Portal neighborhood and support the local business community!

Stop by in the morning for a latte from Ballast Coffee, grab some delicious scones or cupcakes from Noe Valley Bakery, or enjoy breakfast at Squat and Gobble.

Pick up a sandwich for your picnic at Submarine Center or swing by after the concert for authentic Mexican favorites at El Toreador or organic burgers from Calibur, a frozen yogurt at Easy Breezy, or a post-concert drink with friends at The Dubliner.

There’s more to discover along West Portal so make a stop and discover our neighbors nearby.

Learn more about these and other local businesses from the West Portal Merchants Association.

Artist Interview: Sol Development

Sol Development

SOL Development, a hip-hop/jazz/soul ensemble based out of Oakland, California, describes their music as the soundtrack to the movement for justice, freedom, and hope. Their jazzy, souful tracks are punctuated by sharp lyricism evoking themes that resonate, inspire, and provoke.

Stern Grove Festival commissioned the group to create a new work (titled “Our Joy”) to premiere at their performance at the Grove on August 5, 2018. The group, featuring Karega Bailey, Brittany Tanner, Lauren Adams, and Felicia Gangloff-Bailey, shared some of their thoughts with us about creating this new work.

How would you describe your music?

Our music can be best be described as Black American Music or BAM.

How does living in the Bay Area shape or affect your music?

The Bay Area has shaped our showmanship greatly, in that when we deliver our liberating truth, we know that there are people out in the audience who the message resonates with. However, what’s most powerful is that the audience doesn’t look one way. Multiple races, multiple presentations, multiple cultures, and multiple generations are present in our audience, and they all feel it. And because they feel it, we feel it. And we carry a little bit of Oakland with us wherever we go.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

Our inspiration can come from so many different experiences. A conversation amongst one another, a conversation with an elder, or Lauren or Felicia may come up with a melody on the piano and the crew will begin to fill in the words

Our process often begins on piano, or someone in the crew might have some lyrics they want to share and we begin to add to it.

The hardest part about creating something new is knowing when it’s done. Artists, sometimes, have difficulty in the post-production portion because we always hear what could be done different, or better.

Read more about SOL Development in their interview with KQED.


Meet Your Office Yoga Instructor: Chelseah Healey

Chelseah HealeyJoin Office Yoga this Sunday from 12-1 for a relaxing yoga class in the West Meadow! Class will be taught by Chelseah Healey, a reputable yoga instructor in the San Francisco community. Class will be accompanied with live music by Ege Sanli, a popular musician in the yoga community.

Want a taste of what’s to come? Watch this short video of Chelseah teaching us how to do Tree Pose (vrksasana) from France!

Class is all levels and kid friendly. Spare mats provided by Office Yoga and Lululemon. Enjoy the performance by San Francisco Symphony shortly after.

About Chelseah

Chelseah went to her first yoga class with the expectation that it would a gentle class of light stretching; however, by the end of that class she was sweaty, out of breath, and surprised at how challenging she’d found the class to be. Yet despite the challenge, she lay in Savasana feeling nourished and connected to her breath and body in a way she’d never felt before. It took several years to develop a regular practice, and during that time she realized how much more to yoga there was than just asana. It was the many benefits that extend far beyond the physical, that inspired and ignited her true love of yoga. The desire to share that gratitude and love is what inspired her to become a teacher.

In Chelseah’s class you can expect a Vinyasa flow that is challenging, yet accessible for all. Students will learn to link breath and movement as a form of meditation.