A musician’s triumphant return to San Diego!

Many years ago I happened to attend a Spreckels Organ concert featuring an up-and-coming young organist who’d recently attended La Jolla High School. Her name was Chelsea Chen.

This evening, Chelsea Chen, now an internationally renowned organist, who has played in more famous venues and won more prizes than I can mention, returned triumphantly to San Diego, receiving loud and sustained applause for her performance during the 2022 International Summer Organ Festival.

Her fingers easily mastered Verdi, Bach, an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley, and many more–even a jazz piano piece based on the theme of The Flintstones. And, of course, she played her own stirring composition Taiwanese Suite, which incorporates beautiful folk music from Taiwan.

Her warm, graceful notes filled many ears.

As I listened I thought: That concert long ago feels like yesterday. How did the years fly by so quickly?

Enjoy the special moments.

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 Symphony musicians perform magic!

The musicians of the San Diego Symphony performed magic this evening.

Together, using enchanted instruments, the magicians summoned beautiful, ephemeral music back into our world.

With quick, subtle fingers, visiting artist Gabriela Martinez cast potent spells through a grand piano. Her dancing fingers mysteriously conjured the eternal notes of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16. Strong magic sprinkled the audience with soft, crystalline raindrops. And aural whirlwinds.

The concert also included Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Op. 35. Its timeless splendor was inspired by the stories of the Arabian Nights.

No wonder those fairy-tale notes were summoned by magicians!

If you’ve never listened to the San Diego Symphony at their outdoor Rady Shell, on San Diego Bay, you’re missing pure magic.

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!

Chinese New Year returns to Balboa Park!

Chinese New Year has returned to Balboa Park!

Today I walked through the annual festival, which takes place at Balboa Park’s International Cottages. The celebration is hosted by the House of China.

Last year the House of China held this event online, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, many people on the lawn outside were wearing face masks just to be careful.

I didn’t stay too long, because I was headed over to the Comic-Con Museum for a screening of Black Panther. (A fun perk of being a Comic-Con Museum member. And I got a free high quality Black Panther movie poster, too!)

These are the images of the Chinese New Year festival that I captured. I saw a good crowd of visitors and lots of tempting food and talented musicians on the stage!

The popular free event continues on Sunday!

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!

New Year’s Day photos from the Embarcadero.

Today is New Year’s Day. The sun was shining in San Diego.

Many people were out strolling beside San Diego Bay.

For some reason, walking along the Embarcadero is a thing I do almost every year on January 1. Maybe it’s the glittering water, cool breeze, sailboats, and a sense of renewal. Whatever it is, that’s what I did today.

And I took these photographs.

(The next photo is strange! I think he was playing for a special group about to board a harbor cruise.)

Happy New Year!

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!

Draco the dragon arrives in Balboa Park!

My friend Mitchell Walker, who plays the didgeridoo in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park, has an amazing new instrument!

A didgeridoo named Draco!

Draco means dragon–and this musical dragon can be made to stick its tongue out at passersby! Kids love it!

The dragon perched atop Mitchell’s new didgeridoo is made of molded resin. It was created by award-winning Southern California artist Kitty Cantrell. See her website here!

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!

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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!

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.

UPDATE!

Here come more pics! I took these during another sunny weekend rehearsal…

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!