Music education fund honors past Civic Organist.

The Spreckels Organ Society has announced that their increasingly important music education fund is now named after beloved past Civic Organist Jared Jacobsen.

According to the Spreckels Organ Society website’s page concerning this news, the Jared Jacobsen Educational Fund: “…underwrites the visits made by elementary school class groups to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for mini-concerts and a peek backstage…” In addition, new financial support offered up in honor of Jared has allowed the Spreckels Organ Society to produce “a foundation on which to plan more ‘distance learning’ options for educational programs, identifying projects that can introduce the organ to students everywhere…”

There are certain things I especially love in San Diego that I blog about repeatedly. The Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park is near the top of that list. I can’t tell you how much enjoyment and inspiration I’ve received while attending free Sunday organ concerts over the years.

Indeed, thousands of music lovers in San Diego and around the world are inspired by the great Spreckels Organ. And by San Diego’s extraordinary Civic Organists, too!

So, during this period in time when we’re all trying to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was excited to learn the Spreckels Organ Society is planning to implement more distance learning. Music in our schools, and in the life of young people, should thrive no matter the present circumstances! Don’t you think?

Imagine. Kids have the amazing opportunity to learn from Raúl Prieto Ramírez, one of the world’s recognized top concert organists! That’s pretty special.

If you’d like to make a donation to the Jared Jacobsen Educational Fund, click here then scroll down for more detailed information.

Concert celebrates organist Jared Jacobsen.

This evening there was a special concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Former Civic Organist Jared Jacobsen was celebrated.

Jared Jacobsen was the fifth official San Diego Civic Organist, serving from 1978 to 1985. In more recent years, I was fortunate to hear him extract magic from the great Spreckels Organ on those memorable Sundays when he was a substitute organist.

This summer he tragically passed away.

Thinking back, I recall that whenever I attended one of his concerts, his easy smile, wit, and his sparkling music always made me feel joy.

The concert this evening, performed by Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton and current Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, featured the exact same selections that were performed during Jared Jacobsen’s final concert on the Spreckels Organ, on January 1, 2019.

During the concert many words were spoken of Jared Jacobsen’s character, and of how he touched those around him. There were heartfelt tributes by Jean Samuels, President of the Spreckels Organ Society; Lyle Blackington, Spreckels Organ Curator Emeritus; Jeremy Kaercher, of the First Lutheran Church of San Diego where Jared was Director of Music; and a very moving recollection of Jared’s humanity and generous spirit by Christine Micu, of The Bishop’s School in La Jolla where Jared taught.

I jotted down some words that were spoken.

“…he was gifted, charming, and he showed us all how to be a great human being…he was a superstar…his vitality was infectious…contagious zest for life…he was never a self-promoter…his verbal skills were equal to his musical skills…a living encyclopedia…elegant simplicity…the kindest and most caring person…to put it simply, he made people happy…his capacity to sparkle and spread light wherever he went…”

The popularity and success of the great Spreckels Organ today owes much to the tireless efforts and optimism of Jared Jacobsen.

More importantly, thousands of lives have been enriched by the spirit of one beloved man.

His music plays on.

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.

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!

The triumphant return of the Spreckels Organ!

The amazing Spreckels Organ, largest outdoor musical instrument in the world and the joyful lungs of Balboa Park, made its triumphant return today!

After six weeks of silence because of a broken motor on the main blower, the Spreckels Organ is once again producing fantastic music, with a little help from San Diego’s world-famous Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

Raul began today’s concert with Johann Sebastian Bach’s powerful Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The talented San Diego Children’s Choir then took the stage to perform a variety of classical songs, including Franz Schubert’s moving Ave Maria.

To honor Veterans Day, Raul concluded the program by playing three John Philip Sousa compositions: Semper Fidelis, In Memoriam, and Stars and Stripes Forever.

In a troubled world where the flag often flies at half-staff, this Sunday we were reminded that human good can prevail. With a little dedication any broken instrument in this world–even the mighty Spreckels Organ–can be repaired.

I saw many smiles in the sunshine.

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 at Spreckels Organ on Silent Movie Night.

People gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of Silent Movie Night.
People begin to gather in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion well before the start of the Silent Movie Night concert.

This evening I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. This special annual event, featuring a silent movie accompanied by the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, is part of every International Summer Organ Festival.

The organist this evening–for the second year in a row–was Steven Ball, who plays the world’s largest indoor pipe organ at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Among his many accomplishments, he might be best known for being the organist at the Miss America beauty pageant!

The hilarious movie tonight was Safety Last (1923), starring physical comedy genius Harold Lloyd, who ranks with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular silent movie stars. I was interested to learn Harold Lloyd graduated from San Diego High School, which is located in Balboa Park, less than a mile from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

About an hour before the concert, I watched people arrive and claim their spots around the pavilion. Unable to sit still that long, I spent a few minutes wandering around nearby areas of Balboa Park, photographing the sun’s last rays in trees and on beautiful buildings.

The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The screen is set up. The concert will begin with selections by organist Steven Ball, including Hooray for Hollywood. Once darkness falls, the silent movie Safety Last will begin, accompanied by the Spreckels Organ.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world's top organists.
The 31st Annual International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park features many of the world’s top organists.
Safety Last, 1923, is a comedy that features silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Safety Last, 1923, is a hilarious, crazy, heartwarming comedy that features popular silent screen star Harold Lloyd, who graduated from nearby San Diego High School.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
Lots of people have already staked out their spots on benches and lawn chairs over an hour before the program begins.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
The Spreckels Organ Society Beer Fest inside the nearby Japanese Friendship Garden raised funds to help keep free organ concerts alive.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
I heard bagpipes at the nearby International Cottages. When I investigated, I discovered the House of Scotland Pipe Band was outside practicing.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Meanwhile, more people were streaming into the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with about an hour still to go.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
Some folks are already getting some snacks to enjoy during the concert and silent movie.
As late light illuminated the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about to take photos. Here's the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
As late sunlight slanted onto the buildings of Balboa Park, I walked about taking a few photos. Here’s the House of Hospitality from the Plaza de Panama.
Here's the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here’s the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Here's the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
Here’s the Bea Evenson Fountain and Fleet Science Center.
When I returned, the crowd had grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws about 3000 people.
When I returned, the crowd had really grown! Every year Silent Movie Night draws somewhere around 3000 people.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.
Ten minutes to go, and on come the magical lights of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion! As twilight arrived in Balboa Park, I put my camera away and enjoyed a great time.

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!

Exciting debut of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego's new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego’s new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.

I’m still in a state of elation after experiencing the exciting debut this afternoon of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

The first appearance of Raúl Prieto Ramírez as official organist for the city of San Diego was nothing less than phenomenal. He performed in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where the public will now enjoy his free performances every Sunday at two o’clock.

His great love of music, his energy, his vivaciousness and his extraordinary skill were apparent from the start. An enormous audience filled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and welcomed him warmly. At the conclusion of the exciting concert, he received a well-deserved standing ovation.

San Diego is so fortunate. The shoes of previous Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, would be difficult for anyone to fill, but Raúl Prieto Ramírez seems definitely up to the task. His playing is crisp, nimble, precise, and full of expression. His smile is enormous. His mission in life, he told the audience, was to bring to the world great music. That makes him happy.

Raúl Prieto Ramírez comes to San Diego from Barcelona, Spain. He is internationally acclaimed, the founder of the Barcelona-Mataró International Organ Festival. Now he will perform his magic in Balboa Park as Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society. I can tell you right now the future of the 103-year-old Spreckels Organ is incredibly bright.

My photos of today’s concert captures a true artist’s unbounded passion. That passion translates into musical gold.

Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world's largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world’s largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
Concentration.
Concentration.
Feeling.
Feeling.
Intensity.
Intensity.
More smiles.
More smiles.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society's Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society’s Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Instructions are secretly given.
Instructions are secretly given.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short sentence that introduces each part of the music.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short dramatic sentence that introduces each part of the music.
Too much fun!
Too much fun!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

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San Diego says goodbye to popular Civic Organist.

Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego Civic Organist for 15 years, in the middle of her final Sunday afternoon performance at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego Civic Organist for 15 years, in the middle of her final Sunday afternoon performance at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

Thank you Dr. Carol Williams.

Thank you for 15 years of inspiration, dedication, and–most of all–unparalleled music. Thank you for making the Spreckels Organ come so alive. Thank you for your quirky good humor and your wonderful showmanship. Thank you for being such a great part of San Diego’s history, for being one of a long string of distinguished musicians, Civic Organists who first made the Spreckels Organ’s powerful lungs sing in 1915. Thank you for helping culture in Balboa Park to thrive. Thank you for bringing in some of the finest organists in the world for our  absolutely incredible Summer Organ Festivals. Thanks for being a part of many Sunday afternoons, at two o’clock, when I could simply close my eyes and feel the music move through me. Just music. Each living note. Thank you!

In the years ahead, may you produce many fantastic compositions for the king of instruments!

A large crowd turned out to enjoy the music produced by Carol and the Spreckels Organ one last Sunday.
A large crowd turned out to enjoy the music produced by Carol and the Spreckels Organ one last Sunday afternoon.
Dr. Carol Williams wows the crowd with another amazing performance. She is one of the world's finest concert organists. And her dog Dietrich up on stage seems quite proud!
Dr. Carol Williams wows the crowd with another amazing performance. She is one of the world’s finest concert organists. And her dog Dietrich up on stage seems quite proud!
A special day in Balboa Park as San Diego's first woman Civic Organist plays the king of instruments one last Sunday.
A special day in Balboa Park as our nation’s first woman Civic Organist plays the king of instruments one last Sunday.
The Spreckels Organ Pavilion was filled with people who have enjoyed Carol's concerts for many years.
The Spreckels Organ Pavilion was filled with people who have enjoyed Carol’s concerts for many years.
Carol and pal Dietrich between pieces. KUSI videotaped the historic occasion.
Carol and pal Dietrich between pieces. KUSI television videotaped the historic occasion.
Dr. Carol Williams, a premiere concert organist, plays the Spreckels Organ, the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.
Dr. Carol Williams, a premiere concert organist, plays the Spreckels Organ, the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.
An artist at work.
An artist at work.
The beginning of a standing ovation, just as Carol asks everyone to stand for the National Anthem.
The beginning of a standing ovation, just as Carol asks everyone to stand for the National Anthem.
Dr. Carol Williams greets organ lovers in the gift shop after her final Sunday concert in Balboa Park. She has long been a San Diego treasure, and now becomes a part of our city's history.
Dr. Carol Williams greets organ lovers in the gift shop after her final Sunday concert in Balboa Park. She has long been a San Diego treasure, and now becomes a part of our city’s history.
An organ student thanks Dr. Carol Williams. She worked hard to educate youth, to encourage aspiring musicians, and to build the Spreckels Organ Society into a powerful presence in the music world.
An organ student thanks Dr. Carol Williams. She worked hard to educate youth, to encourage aspiring musicians, and to build the Spreckels Organ Society into a powerful presence in the music world.

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Come enjoy the 2016 International Summer Organ Festival!

The 2016 International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion will feature some of the world's great organists! If you've never been to this event, time to go check it out!
The 2016 International Summer Organ Festival in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion will feature some of the world’s great organists! If you’ve never been to these concerts, time to go check it out!

It starts tomorrow evening! It’s time again for that annual world-famous cultural event in Balboa Park: the International Summer Organ Festival! I promised to say something about these amazing weekly concerts on my blog, so I better do it today before it’s too late!

Anyone who has attended the International Summer Organ Festival in past years knows that many of the world’s greatest concert organists perform during the 10 week blockbuster event. The free concerts are held on Monday evenings in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Concerts begin at 7:30 and last about 2 hours, with a brief intermission to eat, drink, talk, visit the gift shop and stretch legs. Thousands of music buffs and ordinary folk (like myself) come out to listen to the Spreckels Organ’s awesome and versatile voice.

As many of you might know, the Spreckels Organ recently regained the title of World’s Largest Outdoor Organ. And when an organist “pulls out all the stops”, you can hear this King of Instruments clear across Balboa Park!

One more thing–I learned that gourmet sandwiches will be available at the concession area this year–they’re large enough to feed two. So why not make an evening of it? Perhaps walk around beautifully lit Balboa Park before the evening concert or afterward!

Oh–and I should mention that on the Fourth of July, a special concert will feature a spectacular tribute to musical Americana, including favorite rags, marches, Gershwin and more. All played by Dave Wickerham, who is a top-notch theatre organist. (I’ve heard him before, and the way he plays is just unbelievable.)

Click the photo above that contains information about the performances. The image will enlarge and you can mark your calendars. If you’re not in San Diego, I believe the concerts will be streamed on the internet. To learn more about that possibility, and more about the Spreckels Organ Society and their concerts and educational programs, click here!

Ross Porter, Executive Administrator of the Spreckels Organ Society, shows us the newly printed program which visitors will receive at every free summer Monday night performance.
Ross Porter, Executive Administrator of the Spreckels Organ Society, shows us the newly printed program which visitors will receive at every free summer Monday night performance.
I needed some photos for today's blog post, so I captured a smile in the outdoor gift shop. I missed this afternoon's free Sunday concert because I was on a secret mission.
I needed some photos for today’s blog post, so I captured a smile in the outdoor gift shop. I missed this afternoon’s free Sunday concert because I was on a secret mission and had to go elsewhere.
About an hour to go before the free Sunday afternoon concert at 2 o'clock. The Spreckels Organ Pavilion is home to the world's largest outdoor organ and brilliant Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams!
About an hour to go before the free Sunday afternoon concert at 2 o’clock. Volunteers and curious folk are Just hanging out. The Spreckels Organ Pavilion is home to the world’s largest outdoor organ and brilliant Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! 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!