Family legacy in Stern Grove summer music fest continues

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Then, from 1956 to 1968, his grandmother, Elise Stern Haas, assumed the helm of the festival. Her daughter Rhoda Haas Goldman, a prominent supporter of the Jewish community who died in February 1996, took her mother's place.

Last year, Rhoda Goldman's son Douglas, 44, followed in the family footsteps, becoming the fourth generation to assume the position of chairman of the festival's board.

"It's an opportunity for people to come together without encumbrances and enjoy a moment's entertainment in an idyllic setting in a marvelous city," he says of the festival, which this summer celebrates its 60th anniversary with music, tours and a historic exhibit.

Since the festival's founding, audiences that now average 15,000 per concert have welcomed to the meadow such musicians as conductor Arthur Fiedler, violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern, flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Pakistani singer Ali Akbar Khan.

Goldman, a medical doctor who now works as president and CEO of Certain Software Inc. in San Francisco, says he has influenced the makeup of this year's program, which continues on Sundays through Aug. 24.

In addition to concerts by the San Francisco Ballet, Opera and Symphony, the festival program has already featured Cuba's mighty dance band Los Van Van and will present in upcoming concerts the lighthearted Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and blues legend Jimmy Scott.

"What's considered the popular music that my generation grew up on will become more prevalent in the mix of entertainment provided at the grove," Goldman predicts.

In addition to his work with the Stern Grove festival, Goldman, a member of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, is active on the boards of a number of other community organizations.

Among them are the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund founded by his parents, the San Francisco Emergency Physicians' Association, the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and the Museum of the Diaspora in Israel, where he founded Dorot, the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center.

"This whole sense of giving back, of sharing, of providing," Goldman says, "to me is an expression of a philanthropic intent that is grounded in our Jewish background and belief."

All concerts begin at 2 p.m. at 19th Ave. and Sloat Blvd., S.F. Information: Send a business-size SASE to Stern Grove Festival, 44 Page St., Suite 600, S.F., 94102, call (415) 252-6252 or visit its Web site at www.sterngrove.org

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.