Lightning and thunder at magical Spreckels concert!

Tonight an unusual, truly magical concert was held in Balboa Park at the outdoor Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

As lightning flashed and thunder rumbled, internationally renowned organist Ahreum Han answered with her own own thunder for a small audience sheltered against the storm up on the pavilion stage.

Those of us who experienced this extraordinary concert, part of the 33rd San Diego International Organ Festival, sat almost directly under the majestic Spreckels Organ pipes and mere feet away from Ahreum Han as she played elegantly, easily, masterfully.

As you can imagine, the unusual circumstances provided a once-in-lifetime opportunity for music lovers. My goosebumps were on overdrive.

The music flowed like bright lightning from the fingers of Ahreum, and at times it seemed she was playing a duet with mighty nature. When she concluded each piece, thunder joined the applause.

You had to be there.

It was an experience an adventurous few, who refused to be deterred by a threat of lightning and rain, will never ever forget.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Star Wars cosplay at Return of the Jedi concert!

This evening I enjoyed a really great Return of the Jedi concert by the San Diego Symphony. The popular John Williams score was performed live at the outdoor Shell as the film played on a big screen above the musicians.

Before the concert began, Star Wars cosplay could be seen throughout the crowd. Dude Vader (pictured above) and several local Star Wars cosplay groups were in attendance.

Fans eagerly posed for photographs with Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, bounty hunter Boba Fett, evil Emperor Palpatine and other favorite characters.

During the movie, at triumphant moments, scattered lightsabers in the audience rose glowing in the darkness!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A healing 9/11 concert in Balboa Park.

A concert at Balboa Park’s International Cottages today, the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, was filled with healing warmth and tenderness.

The group Island Mist and Friends was playing gentle island music for a world that could use a little extra kindness.

I listened to a few songs, saw many smiles, then my legs carried me forward.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

San Diego International Organ Festival returns!

Every time a world-class organist performs in Balboa Park, the Spreckels Organ shines.

Tonight the Spreckels Organ, largest outdoor instrument in the world, one of San Diego’s most unique and precious treasures, absolutely sparkled.

Concert organist Hector Olivera filled Balboa Park with magic during the first performance of the two-month-long San Diego International Organ Festival.

Hector Olivera, considered one of the greatest organists alive, took the stage with his humor and deft touch and created something extraordinary. I sat mesmerized throughout the concert. The music he summoned from the Spreckels Organ was subtle, luminous, alive.

Hector Olivera was a child prodigy. As a five-year-old he played for Eva Perón. Before he’d left his teens he’d performed for heads of state. He has since played in many of the world’s most prestigious venues.

Tonight he started the 2021 San Diego International Organ Festival with an act that will be hard to top. But more top organists are coming, including San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

If you love listening to world-class musicians you must go to this free weekly event. The Spreckels Organ shines in Balboa Park every Monday at 7:30 pm through October 25, 2021!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Scenes from The Shell’s opening night concert!

Today history was made in San Diego. This evening, the San Diego Symphony performed their opening concert at the new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

I arrived a good hour before the concert began and wandered around. I even walked out onto the nearby pier. From the Embarcadero Marina Park South fishing pier The Shell is gorgeously framed by San Diego’s skyline.

The Shell is simply wonderful. It has immediately become one of our city’s treasures. Its beauty, the sparkling bay views, the sunset and sailboats, the world-class music…

Large screens on either side of the stage allow guests to watch the performers up close. You see their facial expressions. You see the emotion.

The photos I took this evening provide just a small taste of the incredible experience you’ll have should you attend a concert at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

One great thing about this fantastic new outdoor venue is the public can freely watch and listen from the periphery. I found a bench beside the water and simply melted into the music.

Please enjoy a few photos of this evening’s historic event taken by my small camera.

Young volunteers greet visitors in line for the concert.
People eagerly file in for an historic concert.
Some guests walk up to the box office to purchase tickets.
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park has many places to sit, eat, or simply relax before or during a concert. All sorts of food is available–from gourmet to pizza.
Friendly waves from San Diego Symphony folks!
A wave and smile!
A few are already seated well before the concert begins.
Martha Gilmer, Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Symphony welcomes guests to the historic concert.
Meanwhile, people have found a great place to sit and listen at one end of the fishing pier.
Sailboats pass on San Diego Bay. During the concert, many boaters anchored nearby to listen.
A photo taken from the pier. The Marriott Marquis becomes silvery as the sun falls toward the horizon.
Musicians arrive carrying their instruments.
I’m back near The Shell and its sloped seating area. People awaiting the concert gaze out toward the bay.
Many have taken their seats. Anticipation builds…
The sun will soon be setting.
The silhouette of San Diego Symphony conductor Rafael Payare appears on The Shell’s curtain! Everyone applauds!
The curtain suddenly drops open!
And there is the San Diego Symphony!
Beautiful music begins…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Mariachis perform at Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

The Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park was filled this evening with uplifting music. Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista performed in front of a large crowd!

Lively traditional Mexican music turned this free Twilight in the Park Summer Concert into a special, memorable event. Many families filled the pavilion benches. There was much clapping and singing along with popular songs.

An elderly man behind me sang words he knew by heart joyfully. So did a very young boy sitting next to him.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

San Diego’s joyful Reopening Celebration Concert!

This evening San Diego is celebrating the reopening of our city after the long, very difficult lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. An epic Reopening Celebration Concert is underway at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park even as I type this!

I watched for about an hour and a half, while there was ample light to take photographs. What I saw on the stage was pure joy. Love of life.

Before the concert began, everyone in the audience grabbed a free ice cream treat courtesy of Forever Balboa Park (the recent merger of two organizations: Friends of Balboa Park and the Balboa Park Conservancy).

Then here came the first performance!

The Enchanted Tail was an operatic fairy tale for kids, by the awesome group Opera4Kids. The sweet, very funny opera featured a woodsman turned into a fox by a wicked witch, a lost voice, a crown, a cunning princess under a sleeping spell–and how a potentially tragic conflict is resolved happily through self-sacrifice and mutual compassion.

Then here came the San Diego Youth Ballet!

Then, to rousing cheers, here came Balboa Park’s own amazing, super energetic dance group, San Diego Civic Dance Arts!

After a wardrobe change, the group danced to Queen’s rock and roll classic Bohemian Rhapsody, played on the Spreckels Organ by San Diego Civic Organist Raul Prieto Ramírez!

A triumphant performance!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Evening music during summer in Balboa Park.

This evening, about an hour before sunset, after the daytime crowd had greatly thinned, I walked through Balboa Park.

In the Plaza de Panama some guys were producing beautiful music. The group is called the Sunshine Brass Quintet. I’ve seen them other days playing in the plaza.

When I finally walked past the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I was excited to see the Twilight in Balboa Park concerts are returning for 2021!

The evening concerts will take place Tuesdays through Thursdays during the month of August. They start at 6:30 pm in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

Performers include Marine Band San Diego, Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista, the Coronado Concert Band, and many others! Check out the photo I took of the sign below, or visit the concerts page here.

Here are a few more photos of the Sunshine Brass Quintet this evening in the Plaza de Panama…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Big community celebration coming to Balboa Park!

There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.

An exciting community celebration will be held in Balboa Park at the end of July!

Everyone is invited to gather at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on the evening of Saturday, July 31, 2021 to enjoy this amazing free event, featuring notable performers from all around San Diego.

Participating in the celebration will be Opera4Kids, San Diego Civic Dance Arts, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Grupo Folklórico Sabor de México, San Diego Master Chorale accompanied by San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, and the fun Organ Pavilion Rock Band! The entertainment starts at 5:30 pm!

What is this big community celebration all about?

The reopening of San Diego after the pandemic!

Learn more by clicking here!

What does it feel like to play the Spreckels Organ?

What does it feel like to play the Spreckels Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument located in the heart of Balboa Park?

Raul Prieto Ramírez, internationally renowned San Diego Civic Organist, played Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpiece Toccata and Fugue in D minor to start today’s free Sunday concert.

Perhaps this series of photos can transmit a bit of the feeling…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!