Search form

The 2011 Spreckels Summer Organ Festival Begins Tonight

Thousands of visitors visit Balboa Park to watch world class organists perform at the pavilion.
Thousands of visitors visit Balboa Park to watch
world class organists perform at the pavilion.
Courtesy Photo

Tonight San Diego civic organist Carol Williams will make the Spreckels organ sing for Balboa Park visitors. This will be the first of a series of free summer concerts on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

The Spreckels Summer Organ Festival runs through August 29 and features the most talented organists from all over the world.

“Concert-goers often pack a picnic dinner, enjoy the park in the evening and then a professional concert under the stars,” Spreckels Organ Society’s public relations representative Lizbeth Price said. “Many people make it a summer Monday night tradition, meeting friends, taking their kids and even their dogs to take in a free concert.”

Rather than the usual picnic, visitors can enjoy a special treat tonight. To kick off the opening night, the pavilion is hosting a fundraiser dinner, Bach’s Supper Taco Fiesta, to celebrate this 24-year-old summer tradition. The dinner begins at 5 p.m. so guests have plenty of time to enjoy a buffet of tacos from La Taquiza, beer, wine and soft drinks. Dinner tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for children 12 and younger.

Snacks, beverages and souvenirs are also available at the pavilion, with all proceeds supporting the Spreckels Organ Society.

Created by John D. Spreckels in 1914, the Spreckels organ is the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument. Known as the “father of modern San Diego,” Spreckels envisioned this city as a metropolis filled with culture and opportunity and built a pavilion that was visually and conceptually innovative for its time.

The pavilion seats more than 2,400 patrons and the organ itself weighs approximately 100,000 pounds. A 20 horsepower blower, located in the basement, is needed to power the organ’s 4,518 pipes. The organ is so powerful it can be heard from three miles away. Not only does the majestic pavilion attract sightseers from all areas, but the gifted musicians also draw music-loving visitors to Balboa Park.

“Summer International Organ Festival concerts draw between 2,500 and 4,000 people each Monday evening all summer long,” Price said. “The most popular concert each year is the annual Silent Movie Night performed by Dennis James.”

Williams, the star of tonight’s opening concert entitled “Celebration,” is America’s first woman civic organist and has played for audiences all over the world. She is also the artistic director of the Spreckels Organ Society and has been playing at Spreckels Organ Pavilion for 10 years.

Tonight Williams will be joined by the House of Scotland Pipe Band, the Finest City Brass Herald Trumpets and the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

On her website, Williams says, “I want to bring the organ to new audiences and, with my performances, make people feel good.”

Williams also plays free organ concerts on Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and occasionally she plays for fifth graders on Fridays. These concerts are sponsored by the Spreckels Organ Society and City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department. However, because of drastic budget cuts to the park and recreation department, the Sunday afternoon concerts are now in jeopardy.

To view concert schedules and show support for these concerts, visit http://www.sosorgan.org.


Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Organization: Spreckels Organ Society
  • Venue: Balboa Park, San Diego
  • Dates: June 20-August 29, 2011