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!

A joyful celebration of Christmas in San Diego!

Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.
Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.

If you love Christmas and happen to be in San Diego this Sunday afternoon, head over to Balboa Park! It’s the second day of Christmas on the Prado!

The 5th Annual Children’s Coalition “Christmas on the Prado” will be held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and International Cottages from 1 – 4 pm, and will feature a special Christmas Concert by Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, lots of holiday treats, inspiring scenes of the Nativity, games and crafts for kids, cultural displays of Christmas Around the World, a reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mrs. Claus, and photos with good old Saint Nick himself!

Christmas on the Prado is a joyful two day holiday event that celebrates the birth of Christ and the generous spirit of Christmas.

Click here to learn more. (Christmas on the Prado continues to grow every year–but they can always use more volunteers and participants! I learned that church groups from all around San Diego are welcomed to come together and join the program! Why not?)

Yesterday I experienced the first day of this year’s event.

Here are some photographs . . .

Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Child is awed by a visiting angel.
Child sees a visiting angel.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Dozens of happy elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Dozens of happy, energetic elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden's cottage.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden’s cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper and many hands inside the House of Norway's cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper by many hands inside the House of Norway’s cottage.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They've sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They’ve sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected moments of humor.
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected bits of silly humor.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank. (Thank you!)

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Give a Christmas toy to less fortunate children.

Numerous elves show up at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado.
Happy elves magically appear at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for Christmas on the Prado.

If you would like to give a special Christmas gift to less fortunate children in San Diego, here’s a wonderful idea!

This coming Saturday and Sunday afternoon–December 1 and 2, 2018–toys will be collected by Toys for Tots during the 5th Annual Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.

Bring a new unwrapped toy . . . or two . . . or three!

Here’s an even more wonderful idea! Host a toy drive at your work, church or special event and bring lots of toys!

If you happen to swing by Balboa Park on Saturday, you’ll be able to watch the lighting of the community Christmas tree in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at 6:30 pm, then Sing Along with Santa!

Click here to learn more!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

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!

Photos of Massing of the Colors in San Diego.

The 62nd Annual Massing of the Colors and Service of Remembrance was held this morning at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. The stirring, patriotic event is organized by the San Diego Chapter of The Military of the World Wars. Its purpose is to honor the flag and support and remember those who have served our country and defended liberty, including those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The parade of color guards this year included about 30 groups, from a variety of local organizations representing ordinary Americans, the military, veterans, law enforcement, JROTC and ROTC, and scouting.

The annual Massing of the Colors has been held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for 62 years without interruption. During a speech, special recognition was given to the Daughters of the American Revolution, who have faithfully participated in this patriotic celebration every single year.

When I arrived at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, a practice run was just finishing up. After a short wait, the parade of color guards commenced.

I will let my photographs tell the story.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Art, Color and Fiesta in Balboa Park!

The San Diego School of Ballet performs during Arte, Color y Fiesta, a special event in Balboa Park celebrating Mexican Independence Day.
The San Diego School of Ballet performs during Arte, Color y Fiesta, a special event in Balboa Park celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

This evening I enjoyed a special event at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. The House of Mexico presented Arte, Color y Fiesta, a cultural program rich with dance, music and patriotism celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

I successfully photographed the first few groups that provided entertainment before daylight waned. Many smiles shined into the evening.

To learn more about the House of Mexico, and perhaps become a member, or provide a donation as they prepare to build their new cottage among the existing House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, visit their website here!

The colorful program at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion was presented by the House of Mexico, member of the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
The colorful program at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion was presented by the House of Mexico, member of the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park.
A poster on display during the event showed construction plans for the House of Mexico's cottage in Balboa Park.
A poster on display during the event showed construction plans for the House of Mexico’s new cottage in Balboa Park.
Los Chinelos De Morelos dance in Balboa Park. The traditional dance of the State of Morelos, Mexico includes Carnival-like costumes and masks.
Los Chinelos Unidos por Siempre de San Diego dance in Balboa Park. The traditional dance of the State of Morelos, Mexico includes fantastic Carnival-like costumes and masks.
During the program, a color guard advanced the Mexican flag to the stage, and the traditional Grito Mexicano was shouted. Viva México!
During the program, a color guard advanced the Mexican flag to the stage, and the traditional Grito Mexicano was shouted. Viva México!
Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego perform during an event that celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain.
Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego, a musical group composed of local high school students, perform during an event that celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Plaza de Panama, the Flavor Company dance group had people dancing the Conga for Balboa Park's Food Truck Friday.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Plaza de Panama, the Flavor Company dance group had people dancing the Conga for Balboa Park’s Food Truck Friday.
Life, color and joy thrive in San Diego at Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Life, color and joy thrive in San Diego’s amazing Balboa Park.

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!