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!

Listening to a Symphony rehearsal at The Shell.

Wonder.

Elation.

Ecstasy.

What word best describes an extraordinary experience that is free to music lovers in San Diego?

When the San Diego Symphony rehearses at The Shell at Embarcadero Marina Park South, anybody can sit mere feet away from the musicians. Just walk on up and take any seat. And listen. You’ll hear some of the finest music ever composed, played by a world-class symphony orchestra.

Sit close and feel the thunder!

This morning I sat in front of The Shell and felt the power of music wash through me, while I enjoyed the sunshine, the gleaming downtown skyline, and boats of every kind sailing by on San Diego Bay.

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!

A colorful Sunday walk on Imperial Beach Pier.

Today I headed down to Imperial Beach to check out a sandcastle that is under construction at the foot of the IB Pier. This summer’s week-long Imperial Beach Sun and Sea Festival features one gigantic sand sculpture. (I’ll share those photos shortly!)

Because I was at the pier, of course I had to walk out on it.

These colorful photographs were taken during my Sunday stroll over the ocean. I walked out to the pier’s end, gazed at the sky and water for a while, then headed back to the beach.

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!

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!

The pure joy of Naruwan Taiko!

Pure joy.

Take a look at the faces of Naruwan Taiko. The San Diego taiko group performed yesterday afternoon in City Heights at Music en la Calle.

Imagine listening to these drums beating in unison. They shake you to the core with their thundering unabashed joy.

The unstoppable beats transmit a resounding Love of Life.

Diana, founder and director of the taiko group, wrote the final piece. It slowly rose, gained energy, soared. As it soared each member of Naruwan Taiko took a turn with their own unique drumming.

Diana explained how taiko awakens something big within you.

That big thing sounds like a heartbeat.

If you want to wear a smile that big, and get a good workout, too, why not join Naruwan Taiko? Here’s their website!

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A special song celebrates beautiful Coronado.

There’s a special, very beautifully written song that celebrates Coronado. The song, which has become beloved by many over the years, was written by composer and Coronado resident Joan Brown Goldberg, who passed away in early 2020.

I learned about The Coronado Song yesterday in Encinitas of all places. I was outside the old 19th century schoolhouse, lingering after a historical walking tour of Encinitas, when I approached a pianist who was playing among nearby vendors at a small crafts event.

The musician, whom you can see in my photos, is Famous Frank. He told me about Joan Brown Goldberg and how he’d played The Coronado Song during a music festival at the Emerald C Gallery a couple years ago. He described The Coronado Song as the unofficial theme song of Coronado.

I did a little searching, and discovered here that “…For a time the song with piano accompaniment was sold around town and at the Hotel del Coronado.”

I also found here that Joan Brown Goldberg “…was a talented composer, writing over 40 songs. Her most recognized work was ‘The Coronado Song,’ which won several international contests. The song was played before the annual Coronado July 4th Parade at the grandstand for 20 years.”

You can see some of the sheet music here.

I love the poetry and feeling in her lyrics. I’ve transcribed the words for the enjoyment of all.

THE CORONADO SONG

Music and Lyrics by Joan Brown Goldberg

Coronado, where the sun shines
Where the grand Hotel meets the sea
And the crashing waves
Will set you ablaze
And launch you into a dream.

Coronado, little island,
With skies as blue as can be
I long to walk on your tanned
California sand
And sit by your sparkling sea.

I miss your cold windy days
That grey winter haze
And fog horns blowin’ all night

Your summer perfume
Of jasmine in bloom
Your seaside seagulls in flight.

Coronado, on a sea breeze,
You know you’re haunting me so.
You are the Queen of the Coast
You’re the mariner’s host
And the most lovely Lady I know!

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!

Photos of Cinco de Mayo fiesta in Old Town!

Cinco de Mayo is being celebrated this weekend in Old Town!

A good crowd was enjoying the colorful fiesta along San Diego Avenue when I arrived today in the early afternoon.

In addition to vendors selling food, crafts, assorted gifts and goodies, Mexican baile folklórico dancers and mariachis could be found along the street providing lively entertainment! And I spotted friendly local chalk artist Cecelia Linayao creating some art by one sidewalk!

Lots of diners were at the various Mexican eateries that line San Diego Avenue, and I was sorely tempted to buy a fresh handmade tortilla!

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t completely over, so everyone at the popular Old Town festival is asked to wear a face mask and engage in social distancing.

I took these photos to capture some of the fun!

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