A celebration of life in Balboa Park.

A violin, drums, didgeridoo and belly dancers fill the Plaza de Panama with life.
Violin, drums, didgeridoo and belly dancers fill the Plaza de Panama with life.

Life is celebrated every day in Balboa Park. But today was special. It’s the weekend of Día de Los Muertos.

This is a special time when we remember those who’ve gone before. A time to reflect and be grateful.

As I walked through the park, I could see glowing memories from the past; and new memories that will be cherished in future life.

Walking through green Balboa Park one bright Sunday afternoon in early November.
Walking through green Balboa Park one bright Sunday afternoon in the beginning of November.
The Casa del Prado Theater rises beyond the Natural History Museum.
The dreamlike Casa del Prado Theater rises beyond the Natural History Museum.
The Bard shows me a wise quote about human failings and nobility.
The Bard shows me a wise quote about human failings and nobility.
The smile of a street performer in Balboa Park.
The sudden smile of a street performer in Balboa Park.
Día de Los Muertos scene inside an aquarium at the San Diego Tropical Fish Society show.
Día de Los Muertos scene inside an aquarium at the San Diego Tropical Fish Society show.
Resting with a best friend by the Lily Pond.
Resting with a best friend by the Lily Pond.
Pumpkins add color to the many plants growing inside the Botanical Building.
Pumpkins add seasonal color to the many plants growing inside the Botanical Building.
Enjoying life while hanging out in sunshine at Nate's Point Dog Park.
Enjoying life while hanging out in sunshine at Nate’s Point Dog Park.
Strolling through the beautiful Panama-California Sculpture Court.
Strolling through the beautiful Panama-California Sculpture Court.
Walking and rolling through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Walking and rolling through the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
A bird greets people in front of the House of Ireland. I learned this cockatoo knows one word: Hello!
A bird greets people in front of the House of Ireland. I learned this cockatoo knows one word: Hello!
Yummy kababs on the grill during the House of Iran lawn program.
Yummy kababs getting ready on the grill during the House of Iran lawn program.
Looks like a Batmobile coming through the park.
Looks like a Batmobile is coming through the park.
The audience participated with the Spreckels Organ as a fun rendition of the Addams Family theme song was produced with odd instruments!
Audience members participated on stage with the Spreckels Organ. A fun Halloween rendition of the Addams Family theme song was produced with odd instruments!
Your smile is love, is the world, is magical fairies, is contagious, is happiness.
Your smile is love, is the world, is magical fairies, is contagious, is happiness.
Setting up for the Day of the Dead Celebration by the Old Globe.
Setting up for the Day of the Dead Celebration by the Old Globe.
A face is painted to resemble a skull, to honor and remember the departed.
A face is painted to resemble a skull, to honor and remember the departed.
Día de Los Muertos crayon art produced by someone during the Old Globe's festival.
Día de Los Muertos crayon art produced by someone during the Old Globe’s festival.
These musicians were ready to celebrate life!
These musicians were ready to celebrate life!

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!

Moved by music at the San Diego Symphony.

A new era of music has begun under the leadership of San Diego Symphony music director and conductor Rafael Payare.
A new era of music has begun at the San Diego Symphony.

Music was potent last evening. It swirled like a wind in Copley Symphony Hall.

As I sat in the mezzanine listening to the San Diego Symphony, I could see the music rising. More powerful than the waves of an ocean, music lifted the body of conductor Rafael Payare. It flowed through the arms and shoulders of the gathered musicians.

Music swayed the enraptured head of famed young pianist Vikingur Ólafsson as it danced through his fingers.

Where the music came from, I don’t know.

It moved the artists that sat upon the stage as if they were the instruments.

The music swelled inside me, too, then the concert ended and I had to walk up a steep hill to go home.

My legs worked in rhythm.

Perhaps the music is always within us. And when those who listen come together, it multiplies into a whirlwind.

Remembering the music of Jared Jacobsen.

Notes of elegance and joy are missing from the world.

Today, during the Sunday organ concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I learned that former San Diego Civic Organist Jared Jacobsen has passed away.

The news is sudden and painful.

I don’t believe I ever heard Jared play during his tenure as San Diego Civic Organist, which lasted from 1978 to 1985. But I have occasionally heard him playing the Spreckels Organ as a Sunday substitute, and have been dazzled by his artistry during past International Summer Organ Festivals.

The music that flowed through him was polished, elegant and above all joyful.

His notes uplifted every person who listened in the audience. He made thousands of lives more beautiful. He had a great smile and sense of humor, and uncommon poise, and a love for the organ, the King of Instruments. His passion came through during every performance.

I was told a memorial concert is being planned, to be held during an evening at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

I just want to say I miss him.

UPDATE

There is to be a special concert to honor Jared’s life and music. From the Spreckels Organ Society blog:

Celebration for Jared: Free Concert on Saturday Nov 23 at 5 p.m.

A special concert, presented free to the public by Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego Civic Organist, and Robert Plimpton, San Diego Civic Organist Emeritus, together with other artists as noted below. The purpose of this concert is honor the life and music of Jared Jacobsen (1949-2019), San Diego’s Fifth Official Civic Organist from 1978-85. Jared was a musical inspiration to all who knew him! This concert will convene friends and admirers from near and far for a reprise (and augmentation) of his final concert on the Spreckels Organ, which was held on January 1st of this year.

To honor Jared, the Spreckels Organ Society has named its Education Fund for him. All donations received by the Society at Saturday’s concert will be matched dollar-for-dollar by individual gifts from the Spreckels Organ Society’s Trustees, up to the amount of $12,000. Online donations are also accepted.

Music like shadow and sunlight in leaves.

This evening I enjoyed another extraordinary concert of the 2019 San Diego International Organ Festival.

In a groundbreaking musical performance, San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez was joined on stage by a symphonic string quartet. Kathryn Hatmaker and Wesley Precourt played violin; Hanah Stuart played viola; and Alex Greenbaum played violoncello. The result was nothing less than brilliant.

The highlight of the concert was a sublime performance of César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor, transcribed by Raúl Prieto Ramírez for the organ.

The resonant voice of the Spreckels Organ and the yearning quality of the strings combined to bring forth exquisitely complex emotions. Bittersweet joy and heartbreak flowed together. The notes were rich with passion and tinged with regret. A whole lot like life.

A standing ovation concluded the evening.

Before the concert began in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion, I walked through the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden.

When I saw my photographs of the garden’s natural beauty, it occurred to me that the music this evening was much like shadow and sunlight in leaves.

The rare magic produced this evening was the result of three San Diego treasures coming together: the world-class San Diego Symphony with its many talented musicians, one of the world’s most accomplished organists, and the Spreckels Organ, one of the most amazing musical instruments in the world.

May this magic become a tradition.

The promise of musical power.

Tomorrow evening’s San Diego International Organ Festival’s concert is going to be awesome. I heard part of the rehearsal today.

The majestic Spreckels Organ accompanied by beautifully played string instruments is too emotionally powerful for words.

Starting at 7:30 pm on Monday, August 26, at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez will be joined by four accomplished chamber musicians, including members of the San Diego Symphony.

You can sense the musical power a little bit in a few of these photos.

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 most extraordinary organ concert.

Over the years, during the course of many International Summer Organ Festivals in Balboa Park, I’ve been fortunate to hear concerts by some of the greatest organists in the world.

But this evening’s concert was extraordinary.

I’m at a loss for words to describe how much I was moved by the masterful, absolutely astonishing performance by Gunnar Idenstam.

Gunner Idenstam, from Sweden, has distinguished himself by winning some of the highest prizes and honors in the organ world. In 1984 he won the very prestigious international competition in improvisation, the Grand Prix de Chartres.

His concert tonight, to my ear, was perfect. He made the Spreckels Organ sound like a sparkling heart.

From his fingertips, through the pipes, came waves and droplets and streams of emotion from the deepest wells. The organ’s voice was complex, subtle, dancing, regal, triumphant, exuberant, sometimes manic, and it soared and soared, and stirred, and soared again, lifting me to a place of pure, exalted emotion.

I don’t know how to describe it.

Parts of his composition Metal Angel were so exultant I almost felt myself flying.

Listening with my eyes closed, I could feel my spirit whirling forward through an epic story. With victory in reach.

Talented kids play the Spreckels Organ!

By far, the best part of my day in Balboa Park was the two o’clock Sunday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez introduced four amazing kids, who each proceeded to play complex musical pieces!

These amazing local students range from 9 years old to 11th grade. The audience listened attentively as Aska Enomoto, Blake Bundschuh, Declan Bohley and Stephen Priest made the king of instruments come alive. Each young person explained why they loved playing organ. All received trophies for their outstanding achievements!

Only the most talented musicians are allowed to play the historic Spreckels Organ, the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument!

My blog doesn’t feature sound, unfortunately, so these photos will have to suffice. A picture might not be worth a thousand notes, but perhaps you can hear a majestic note or two coming through your eyes.

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!