San Diego’s unique and historic outdoor pipe organ in Balboa
Park celebrated its 94th birthday on Sunday January 4, 2009, in honor of which the San Diego Park and Recreation Department, in cooperation with the Spreckels Organ Society,
held a free anniversary concert. Concert-goers on this afternoon were
treated to a special surprise: they were allowed to go inside the organ
building and see all the various pipes and instruments and listen to the
organ from within where the volume can reach over 120 decibels, louder
than a rock band. Civic organist Carol Williams was slated to play at this birthday
concert with a special ensemble of bagpipes, but unfortunately she came
down with the flu. In her absence, former civic organist Jared Jacobsen
played the organ.
The Spreckels Organ was first heard on New Year’s Eve in 1914 for the
opening ceremonies of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa
Park. The organ was built by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford,
Connecticut, at a cost of $100,000. It was
donated to the city of San Diego by John D. Spreckels and was
America’s first outdoor organ.
Free concerts will be held at the Organ Pavilion every Sunday at 2pm for the remainder of January.