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.

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Fun photos of the Sea Chantey Festival!

Today I enjoyed an extraordinary event. I boarded the Star of India at the Maritime Museum of San Diego and experienced the annual Sea Chantey Festival!

Here come fun photos!

You’ll see two musical groups performing in these photographs: first Raggle Taggle, then Kick up the Dust. Others groups who had the audience clapping their hands and dancing on the ship’s deck were the Jackstraws, Gemini Junction, Sportive Tricks, and The Chanteymen.

I saw many people in costume. I found myself in the company of pirates and sea captains and ladies in Victorian dress. Members of the Maritime Museum’s sail crews hauled ropes and climbed the rigging while traditional sea chanteys were sung.

Everyone jumped when two cannon shots rang out across San Diego Bay. Heads turned. Like a vision from the past, the official tall ship of the State of California, Californian, which is also one of the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s beautiful vessels, sailed on past.

It was pure magic. Every moment.

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A smile and music brightens a San Diego day!

Gary Reid performs bluesy songs on San Diego's Embarcadero. He always greets me with a big smile when I pass by.
Gary Reid performs bluesy songs on San Diego’s Embarcadero. He always greets me with a big smile when I pass by.

Meet a guy who always makes me smile. His name is Gary Reid. I often pass him performing bluesy songs with his guitar as I walk along the Embarcadero near the USS Midway.

I didn’t realize until today that he has a CD, YouTube videos and other great stuff available online. He tells me he is available for gigs–just contact him by visiting his website here. His Facebook page is here.

His heart can be heard in his music. Give it a listen.

Gary Reid is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his website for some samples!
Gary Reid is a fine guitarist, singer and songwriter. Check out his website for some samples!
Gary Reid spreads gratitude and a love of life through music!
Gary Reid spreads gratitude and a love of life with his music!

Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua in Balboa Park!

Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.
Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.

What a treat! This evening I got to listen to legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua perform in a special Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park!

Along with stirring performances by the City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble, Jarabe Mexicano and the really outstanding SDSU Jazz Ensemble, Oscar Amezcua wowed the crowd with his passionate voice and irrepressible personality! Two standing ovations were well-earned!

The 87-year-old musical legend has performed for American presidents, dignitaries and countless adoring fans. It’s no mystery why he is loved by so many. Life sparkles in his eyes. His timeless voice comes directly from the heart.

A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Kiwanis has provided many scholarships for SDSU students.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Over the years Kiwanis has provided many generous scholarships for SDSU students.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada, with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make musical history.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make music history.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. The mariachi music full of vigor and joy.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. Mariachi music is full of vigor, passion and joy.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter perform together while his wife watched from the audience. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter on stage together. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
People can't help dancing.
People can’t help dancing.
Love of life. Pure and simple.
Love of life. Pure and simple.

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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!

A brilliant recital at the San Diego Opera.

The San Diego Opera has performances scheduled for April and May 2016. Madama Butterfly and Great Scott.
The San Diego Opera has performances scheduled for April and May 2016: Madama Butterfly and Great Scott.

Yesterday evening I attended a recital by Ferruccio Furlanetto at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego. The concert was a collaboration between the San Diego Opera and the San Diego Symphony.

Simply: it was a powerful and deeply moving experience. The combination of a full symphony orchestra and one of the world’s great opera stars stirred my soul and mind in a way that very, very few things can–not unlike the world’s greatest literature or poetry.

Both the quiet moments and the thunder seemed the very elements of human life, but exquisitely condensed, made poignant. During the diverse program, Ferruccio’s voice rose through the hall with sadness, memory and yearning. It was a performance that lifted me as I listened, and as I watched.

And I didn’t understand most of the words that he sang!

A voice that can express high passion with minute subtlety is a rare thing, indeed. Ferruccio was brilliant, and now I want to experience more of the opera.

It was a shame that I saw very few youthful faces in the audience. I suppose the opera is a medium that relies largely on reverence to tradition. But the opera could easily speak to modern, younger audiences. Much of human experience is universal. We all have those same feelings that are expressed in the opera: the same passions and tensions that result from human interaction. I challenge writers and composers to renew the opera and make it less stuffy, less repetitive, less beholden to the past. Our present world is full of great issues and movements. Make these part of a living art, one that moves boldly and experimentally forward into the future.

Because art is ultimately about life. Our lives.

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Singing Christmas carols in San Diego’s Old Town!

A group of old-fashioned Christmas carolers in Victorian costumes brings holiday cheer to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
A group of old-fashioned Christmas carolers in Victorian costumes brings holiday cheer to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Look what I stumbled upon yesterday during an afternoon walk through San Diego’s history-filled Old Town. Folks in Victorian costumes were roaming about, singing Christmas carols!

I learned this group is composed of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park staff and volunteers. They were having a great time spreading Christmas cheer, pausing to sing at the various museums, restaurants and shops around old San Diego’s picturesque central plaza.

I was even given a cool little book filled with Christmas carol lyrics. Thank you guys!

Merry Christmas!

Carolers smile, laugh and enjoy the day in front of a reconstructed building at Old Town San Diego's central plaza.
Carolers smile, laugh and enjoy the day in front of a reconstructed building at Old Town San Diego’s central plaza.
I was given this Caroling Lyrics Booklet. Songs include Jingle Bells, The First Noel, We Three Kings, The 12 Days of Christmas, Deck the Halls and Silent Night.
I was given this Caroling Lyrics Booklet. Songs include Jingle Bells, The First Noel, We Three Kings, The 12 Days of Christmas, Deck the Halls and Silent Night.
The colorful group of Old Town roving carolers heads to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which is decked out with festive wreaths.
The colorful group of Old Town roving carolers heads to the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which is decked out with festive wreaths.
After entertaining some surprised diners, the group heads through the Cosmopolitan Hotel, much to the delight of one server!
After entertaining some surprised diners, the group heads through the Cosmopolitan Hotel, much to the delight of one server!
Singing traditional Christmas carols around the old fountain in the outdoor courtyard of Casa de Estudillo.
Singing traditional Christmas carols around the old fountain in the outdoor courtyard of Casa de Estudillo.
Now the Christmas carolers are in the Wells Fargo History Museum next to the original 1867 Concord stagecoach! Several people listened outside the nearby door and applauded.
Now the Christmas carolers are in the Wells Fargo History Museum next to the original 1867 Concord stagecoach! Several people listened outside the nearby door and applauded.
A crowd gathered as Christmas carols were heard outside the Threads of the Past Living History Activity Center. One quilter joined in the public singing!
A crowd gathered as Christmas carols were heard outside the Threads of the Past Living History Activity Center. One quilter joined in the public singing!
Joyful, uplifting Christmas carols are sung as customers leave Toby's Candle and Soap Shop.
Joyful, uplifting Christmas carols are sung as customers leave Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop.

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