Photos behind the scenes at Copley Symphony Hall!

Old photograph in lobby of Symphony Towers shows the old downtown Fox Theatre, today's surprising home of the San Diego Symphony.
Photograph in lobby of Symphony Towers shows the old downtown Fox Theatre, today’s surprising home of the San Diego Symphony.

Today I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall, home of the San Diego Symphony. The tour was part of the big OPEN HOUSE 2017 event that is being staged this weekend by the San Diego Architectural Foundation. An amazing 47 buildings featuring diverse architectural styles are being showcased around downtown, from Bankers Hill to Barrio Logan.

Copley Symphony Hall was originally built as the Fox Theatre in 1929, an excellent example of the famous chain of Fox movie palaces. Highly ornate Gothic Revival touches can be seen in the preserved lobby and inside the opulent theatre itself. Should you stand outside on the city street today, all you’d see is a tall skyscraper: Symphony Towers. The modern 34-story skyscraper was built literally over and around the historic Fox Theatre in 1989!

Stepping into Copley Symphony Hall is like being suddenly transported back in time. Take a look at some photos and read the captions for more info!

Visitors check out historical photos of the Fox Theatre movie palace on a wall near the San Diego Symphony box office.
Visitors check out historical photos of the Fox Theatre movie palace on a wall near the San Diego Symphony box office.
Guide from the San Diego Symphony provides some background before a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall.
Guide from the San Diego Symphony provides some background before a behind-the-scenes tour of Copley Symphony Hall.
How the Fox Theatre appeared almost a century ago. A modern 34-story skyscraper, Symphony Towers, was built around it in 1989. The building's parking levels are directly above the theatre!
How the Fox Theatre appeared almost a century ago. A modern 34-story skyscraper, Symphony Towers, was built around it in 1989. The new building’s parking levels were constructed directly above the old theatre!
The Fox Theatre was the most elegant place to enjoy culture in San Diego for decades. Countless concerts, shows and movies have been enjoyed here by many generations.
The Fox Theatre was the most elegant place to enjoy culture in San Diego for decades. Countless concerts, shows and movies have been enjoyed here by many generations.
Our tour group has entered the theatre's elegant main lobby. Movie executive William Fox created a chain of opulent theaters in the 1920s. They featured many styles of dazzling ornamentation. At one time this was a working fountain!
Our tour group has entered the theatre’s main lobby. Movie executive William Fox developed a popular chain of theaters in the 1920s. They featured many styles of dazzling ornamentation. At one time this was a working fountain!
I learned the central face above the old fountain represents William Fox himself. Fox was born in Hungary and his parents emigrated to America. He eventually created a vast entertainment empire.
I learned the central face above the old fountain represents William Fox himself. Fox was born in Hungary and his parents emigrated to America. He eventually created a vast entertainment empire.
A look at one amazing corner of the dramatic ceiling.
A look at one amazing corner of the lobby’s dramatic ceiling.
The elegant main lobby of Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
The elegant main lobby of Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego.
A bust at one end of the main lobby is of the beloved German composer Beethoven.
A bust at one end of the main lobby is of the beloved German composer Beethoven.
We step into Symphony Hall to see what few see. We will file down through the empty theatre and through a door that connects to backstage.
We step through a door to see what few see. We will file down through the empty theatre and through another door that connects to backstage.
Heading toward backstage. I believe those stairs lead up to the rear stage door on Eighth Avenue.
Heading toward backstage. I believe those stairs lead up to the rear stage door on Eighth Avenue.
Behind the scenes! All sorts of interesting equipment could be glimpsed in the darkness behind the stage.
Behind the scenes! All sorts of interesting equipment could be glimpsed in the darkness behind the stage.
I believe I see a xylophone tucked in this closet-like space!
I believe I see a xylophone tucked in this closet-like space!
Through that rather ordinary-looking door is the San Diego Symphony's elegant stage! Beautiful music requires hard work done by those who toil unseen.
Through that rather unimpressive door is the San Diego Symphony’s elegant stage! Beautiful music requires hard work done by those who toil unseen.
This is part of a comfortable rest area behind the stage for the San Diego Symphony musicians. Visiting entertainers also enjoy the peace and moments of relaxation.
This is part of a comfortable rest area behind the stage for San Diego Symphony musicians. Visiting entertainers also enjoy an opportunity for relaxation.
We've left backstage and are heading up some stairs to Copley Symphony Hall's upper level, whose entrance is on hilly Seventh Avenue.
We’ve left backstage and are heading up some stairs to Copley Symphony Hall’s upper level, whose entrance is on hilly Seventh Avenue.
Some rather fancy decorative artwork can be seen above the doorway that leads to Aisle 5.
Some rather fancy decorative artwork can be seen above the doorway that leads to Aisle 5.
The interior of the theatre was too dark for my old camera to capture many good photographs. After listening to a brief organ concert, our tour group prepares to exit Copley Symphony Hall's upper seating level.
The interior of the theatre was too dark for my old camera to capture many good photos. After listening to a brief organ concert, our tour group prepares to exit Copley Symphony Hall’s upper seating level.
One of several smaller chandeliers in the spectacular ceiling.
One of several smaller chandeliers in the spectacular ceiling.
The huge, resplendent central chandelier and those around it can be lowered on cables. This is helpful when about a thousand light bulbs need replacement! In the olden days, dancing girls performed for the audience from atop this chandelier!
The huge, resplendent central chandelier and those around it can be lowered on cables. This is helpful when a thousand light bulbs need replacement! In the olden days, dancing girls performed for the audience from atop this chandelier!
One last glimpse. Some fun detail near the ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre, now home to the San Diego Symphony.
One last glimpse. Some fun detail near the ceiling of the historic Fox Theatre, now home to the world-class San Diego Symphony.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Dance, music, fun at International Mariachi Festival!

People watch the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival in National City's Pepper Park.
People watch the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival in National City’s Pepper Park.

I took a bunch of colorful photos today at one of San Diego’s most wonderful festivals! The 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival was held today at Pepper Park in National City. (Actually, as I post this blog, the event still has about an hour to go.)

So what does one see at a Mariachi Festival? Read the captions!

The first performance featured the colorful Azteca Dancers - Danza Mexi'cayotl.
The first performance featured the colorful Azteca Dancers – Danza Mexi’cayotl.
The Azteca Dancers file onto the stage to the beat of drums.
The Azteca Dancers file onto the stage to the beat of drums.
The audience watches the dancers perform on the Main Stage of the National City International Mariachi Festival.
The audience watches the dancers perform on the Main Stage of the National City International Mariachi Festival.
Dancers of all ages participate in several ancient Aztec dances, including a Rain Dance.
Dancers of all ages participate in several ancient Aztec dances, including a Rain Dance.
Energy and joy are expressed as cultural traditions live on.
Energy and joy are expressed as cultural traditions live on.
The first of many wonderful performances at the Mariachi Festival!
The first of many wonderful performances at the Mariachi Festival!
Now here comes Danza Folklorica Las Florecitas!
Now here comes Danza Folklorica Las Florecitas!
Another amazing dance begins!
Another amazing dance begins!
Smiles and brightly colorful dresses are both big parts of Mexican culture.
Smiles and brightly colorful dresses are both big parts of Mexican culture.
Dizzily spinning color and pure joy.
Dizzily spinning color and pure joy.
Life as it should be.
Life as it should be.
The happy, rhythmic music had lots of people in the audience clapping along.
The happy, rhythmic music had lots of people in the audience clapping along.
Here come some youthful musicians! I believe these are Mariachi Maya de Southwest Middle School.
Here come some youthful musicians! I believe this is Mariachi Maya de Southwest Middle School. You wouldn’t believe the lung power and vocal range of that gifted young singer!
Watching from the side of the Main Stage.
Watching from the side of the Main Stage.
Meanwhile lots of other fun stuff was going on at the festival, including this guy creating cool spray paint art.
Meanwhile lots of other fun stuff was going on at the festival, including this guy creating cool spray paint art.
Vendors had all sorts of stuff for sale, including colorful Mexican dresses and fun lucha libre masks.
Vendors had all sorts of stuff for sale, including colorful Mexican dresses and fierce lucha libre masks.
Speaking of lucha libre, there was some of that as well. (The blindfolded guy somehow won!)
Speaking of lucha libre, there was some of that as well. (The blindfolded guy somehow won!)
Wrestlers entertain a small crowd at the International Mariachi Festival.
Wrestlers entertain a small crowd at the International Mariachi Festival.
My favorite photo of the family event!
My favorite photo of the family event!
And the event this year was very big! People kept arriving right into the afternoon.
And the event this year was very big! More people kept on arriving right into the afternoon.
The excellent entertainment continued non-stop at the Main Stage.
The excellent entertainment continued non-stop at the Main Stage.
Many great mariachi groups would perform from around San Diego, Southern California and Mexico.
Many great mariachi groups would perform from around San Diego, Southern California and Mexico. Many middle school and high school groups participated.
At the opposite end of Pepper Park, on the Port Stage, kids of all ages performed.
At the opposite end of Pepper Park, on the Port Stage, kids of all ages performed.
On the grass off to the side of the Port Stage a bunch of young performers awaited their turn in the spotlight.
On the grass off to the side of the Port Stage a bunch of young performers awaited their turn in the spotlight.
Now I'm back at the Main Stage one last time. The crowd has grown!
Now I’m back at the Main Stage one last time. The crowd has grown!
Rousing, emotional, much-loved mariachi music brought loud applause throughout the event.
Rousing, emotional, much-loved mariachi music brought loud applause throughout the event.
This young man sang several songs, and finished with an exciting mariachi version of Sinatra's New York, New York!
This young man sang several songs, and finished with an exciting mariachi version of Sinatra’s New York, New York!
Here come some young couples dancing! I'm not sure who these performers are.
Here come some young couples dancing! I’m not sure who these performers are.
A dance filled with life.
A dance filled with life.
Youthful energy at the Mariachi Festival in National City.
Youthful energy at the Mariachi Festival in National City.
And now--I believe--Danza Folklorico Nanahuatzin.
And now–I believe–Danza Folklorico Nanahuatzin.
Colorful skirts whirling like kaleidoscopes.
Colorful skirts whirling like kaleidoscopes.
A traditional Mexican folk dance delighting both eyes and ears.
A traditional Mexican folk dance delighting both eyes and ears.
Pure joy.
Pure joy.
Many wonderful performances could be enjoyed at the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival!
Many wonderful performances could be enjoyed at the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival!

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

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This musician will put a smile on your face!

Fast Heart Mart sings smart, memorable music on San Diego's Embarcadero.
Fast Heart Mart sings smart, memorable music on San Diego’s Embarcadero.

For a few minutes this afternoon, during my walk along the Embarcadero, I relaxed on a bench with a smile on my face. I was tapping my toes listening to some really smart, folksy, bluesy, heartfelt singing accompanied by banjo and harmonica. I was enjoying a performance by Fast Heart Mart!

Please check out Martin’s website. He’s toured all over the world and has opened concerts for a wide variety of musical acts. He has ten albums!

I listened to his original composition titled “Good Lordy, I’m Forty” and laughed out loud. The lyrics are intelligent, humorous and strike a chord! And his voice has a distinctive, edgy but pleasingly authentic sound that I could listen to all day.

You can find many samples of his music on his website. I urge you to pay a visit!

Fast Heart Mart strikes a chord and produces smiles!
Fast Heart Mart strikes a chord and produces smiles!

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!

Joyful, colorful street art shows music in heaven.

A diverse choir of humans singing joyfully in heaven. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is represented with touching fingers producing musical notes.
A diverse choir of humans singing joyfully in heaven. The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo is represented with touching fingers producing musical notes.

There’s some uplifting street art in Mission Valley. It’s painted on a large electrical box on Camino del Rio South, between the Scottish Rite Masonic Event Center and the First United Methodist Church of San Diego, which also hosts the St. Francis and St. Tarcicius Catholic Church.

As you can see, this artwork depicts happy people singing and making music in heaven among angels. The musicians appear to include both Louis Armstrong and Jimi Hendrix.

A joyful, colorful vision of harmony!

Jimi Hendrix plays electric guitar in heaven in colorful street art.
Jimi Hendrix plays electric guitar in heaven in colorful street art.
Louis Armstrong plays his trumpet in heaven with an angel nearby. Some colorful street art painted on a large electrical box on Camino del Rio South in Mission Valley.
Louis Armstrong plays his trumpet in heaven with an angel nearby. Some happy street art painted on a large electrical box on Camino del Rio South in Mission Valley.
Musical street art near both First United Methodist Church of San Diego and St. Francis and St. Tarcicius Catholic Church. An imaginative glimpse of happiness and harmony in heaven.
Musical street art near both First United Methodist Church of San Diego and St. Francis and St. Tarcicius Catholic Church. An imaginative glimpse of happiness and harmony in heaven.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Drum and dance at Super Sonic Samba School!

These folks were drumming their hearts out as I neared. Unfortunately, the performance ended a few moments later.
These folks were drumming their hearts out as I neared. Unfortunately, I arrived too late.  Their musical performance ended a few moments later.

Okay, I was just walking along through Balboa Park this afternoon when I stumbled upon something really cool. Members of the Super Sonic Samba School were drumming like crazy in Pepper Grove!

I didn’t bother these folks, but their sign on the grass is probably seen by relatively few people–so I thought I might help and post a photo!

Read the sign to learn more about the Super Sonic Samba School. If you want to dance or drum in San Diego, this looks like great fun! And you can’t beat creating music outdoors on soft green grass, in fresh air and sunshine. And in beautiful Balboa Park!

The Super Sonic Samba School welcomes dancers and drummers at the World Beat Center and Pepper Grove in Balboa Park.
The Super Sonic Samba School welcomes dancers and drummers at the World Beat Center and Pepper Grove in Balboa Park.
If you drum in Pepper Grove, you get to create music near some cool art. This huge mural is on the Centro Cultural de la Raza.
If you drum in Pepper Grove, you get to create music near some cool art. This huge mural is on the Centro Cultural de la Raza.
Another Sunday session of the Super Sonic Samba School wraps up. Looks like fun!
Another Sunday drumming session of the Super Sonic Samba School wraps up. Looks like a whole lot of fun!

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!

Creativity, expression, and one wonderful park.

Young lady is about to get a surprise during a fun magic show in Balboa Park.
A young lady is about to get a surprise during a fun magic show in Balboa Park.

I observed many emotions today.  These emotions were expressed in the eyes and faces of people I encountered during a walk through wonderful Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is like a small slice of some ideal world: so many people coming together, sharing dreams and happy visions. A walk through the park is like all the good things in human life stirred into one potent elixir, with smiles, freedom, friendship, rampant creativity on every side, and much sunlight. And, of course, the memory of special moments and of past loved ones–and the sadness.

Kenny Shelton juggles in between magic acts. Today he tossed dizzy feelings of joy toward hundreds of people on El Prado.
Kenny Shelton juggles in between magic acts. Today he tossed dizzy feelings of joy toward hundreds of people on El Prado.

Kenny seems like a great guy. He’s definitely funny and a crowd-pleaser! Need some entertainment in San Diego?  Find him here!

The San Diego Harmony Ringers conjure bright, cheerful music in Balboa Park.
The San Diego Harmony Ringers conjure bright, cheerful music in Balboa Park.
Intense sadness near the Museum of Man, as people remember the Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea, which happened 1000 days ago. The victims' families are still searching for answers.
Intense sadness near the Museum of Man, as people remember the Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea, which happened 1000 days ago. The victims’ families are still searching for answers.
A belly dancer and musicians draw a large crowd near the Botanical Building. The audience is spellbound.
A belly dancer and musicians draw a large crowd near the Botanical Building. The audience is spellbound.
A group prays under a beautiful tree. Human hope, pain, love . . . among the dropping leaves.
A group prays under a beautiful tree. Human hope, pain, love . . . among the dropping leaves.
Creating a labyrinth in Balboa Park's Zoro Garden. This gentleman created a similar labyrinth which I photographed near the Botanical Building some time ago. If he mentioned his name, I apologize for forgetting and not writing it down.
Creating a labyrinth in Balboa Park’s Zoro Garden. This gentleman created a similar labyrinth which I photographed near the Botanical Building some time ago.
I'm shown a notebook. A Native American basket on the left depicts a radiating labyrinth. Labyrinths are one very ancient human expression, filled with spiritual meaning.
I’m shown a notebook. A Native American basket on the left depicts a radiating labyrinth. Labyrinths are a very ancient human expression, filled with spiritual meaning.

To learn more about his fascinating labyrinths, please visit this Facebook page.

A canvas on El Prado asks random passersby to Paint On Me.
A canvas on El Prado asks random passersby to Paint On Me.
Dogs and people mingle, happy and free at Balboa Park's Nate's Point Dog Park.
Dogs and people mingle freely.  Sheer happiness at Balboa Park’s busy Nate’s Point Dog Park.
This musician was so joyful, he lit up many lives in this wonderful park.
This musician was so positive and so alive, he lit up countless hearts in wonderful Balboa Park.  Joy conquers.

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!

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

A heartwarming Christmas tradition in San Diego.

A very special Sunday organ concert in Balboa Park. Today ordinary residents of San Diego and random visitors from around the world joined together to sing Christmas carols!
A very special Sunday organ concert in Balboa Park. Today ordinary residents of San Diego and random visitors from around the world joined together to sing Christmas carols!

I wish you could have been there. At the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, this afternoon at 2:00. Your heart would’ve been warmed by the most amazing spectacle.

Young and old, residents of San Diego and random tourists visiting Balboa Park from around the world–all came together spontaneously to sing beloved Christmas carols. Right up on the stage, all together, as one.

What a sight. What a wonderful yearly tradition.

There is hope for this old world.

The holiday season at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion includes candy canes, Christmas cookies and gingerbread men.
The holiday season at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion includes candy canes, Christmas cookies and gingerbread men.
The free organ concert the Sunday before Christmas began with classical and unique organ music composed for Christmas.
The free organ concert in Balboa Park this afternoon began with classical and unique organ music composed over the years for Christmas.
Spreckels Organ Curator Dale Sorenson smiles as he turns pages for San Diego Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton.
Spreckels Organ Curator Dale Sorenson smiles as he turns pages for San Diego Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton.
The fancy organ music is over. Time for the public to come up on stage to sing familiar Christmas carols!
The more fancy organ playing is over. Time for the public to come up on stage to sing familiar Christmas carols!
A crowd heads up onto the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage. Anybody could join in the happy singing.
A crowd heads up onto the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage. Anybody could join in the happy singing.
A heartwarming San Diego tradition in Balboa Park. Young and old, everyone and anyone--together people sing many beloved Christmas songs.
A heartwarming San Diego tradition in Balboa Park. Young and old, everyone and anyone–together people sing many beloved Christmas songs.
Ross Porter, Executive Director of the Spreckels Organ Society, leads the proceedings with unabashed zest.
Ross Porter, Executive Director of the Spreckels Organ Society, leads the proceedings with unabashed zest.
A small sample of humanity singing Christmas carols with joy.
A small random sample of humanity singing Christmas carols with joy.

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!

I wish you all Happy Holidays and best wishes in this coming New Year!