Summer Organ Festival celebrating 25 years
By Emily Sorensen
The Summer International Organ Festival is celebrating a milestone this year, when the 25th annual festival opens Monday, June 25 at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
The festival will be offering 10 free concerts this summer every Monday through Aug. 27, all performed on the famous Spreckels Organ, the largest outdoor pipe organ in America. The Spreckels Organ and Pavilion were a gift from John D. and Adolf Spreckels of the Spreckels sugar family, and were dedicated and first played on Dec. 31, 1914.
The festival will begin on a high note with Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton, 7:15 p.m. Monday, June 25. Plimpton’s concert will feature music for organ, brass and percussion, with an ensemble conducted by Shannon Kitelinger, director of Wind Ensembles at San Diego State University. Friends and members of the San Diego Symphony will form the rest of the ensemble.
Music performed at Plimpton’s concert will include major works for organ and brass by Charles-Marie Widor, Sir Arthur Bliss and Marcel Dupre, along with a Concerto for Organ, Brass and Percussion composed by Robert Elmore for Plimpton. Also included will be two organ works arranged by Plimpton specifically for the 25th anniversary concert, Karg-Elert’s “Marche Triomphale” and Guilmant’s “March on the Theme of Handel,” as well as organ solos by Dupre and Elmore and the “Prince of Denmark’s March” by Jeremiah Clarke performed by three trumpets and organ.
Plimpton served as San Diego civic organist from 1984 – 2000. He was also instrumental in founding the Spreckels Organ Society, which over the last 25 years has helped expand the use and appreciation of the Spreckels Organ. In 2001 the San Diego City Council named Plimpton “Civic Organist Emeritus” in recognition of his contribution to the community.
The rest of the season’s concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and are all free of charge. The Summer International Organ Festival will feature Simon Gledhill on Monday, July 2, Tom Trenney on Monday, July 9, Ty Woodward on Monday, July 16, Diane Bish on Monday, July 23, Carlo Curley on Monday, July 30, Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault on Monday, Aug. 6, and Gordon Turk on Monday, Aug. 13.
Beloved silent movie master Dennis James will accompany the 1924 comedy “Hot Water,” with Harold Lloyd, on Monday, Aug. 20. The festival will conclude with a festive finale featuring Carol Williams on Monday, Aug. 27.
Music-loving children and pets are welcome to attend. Light snacks and beverages will be available for purchase. Proceeds from donations benefit the not-for-profit Spreckels Organ Society, which helps to preserve, program and promote the Spreckels Organ.
The public is invited to celebrate opening night at the Spreckels Organ Society’s festive “Bach’s Supper.” A delicious buffet meal catered by Phil’s BBQ will begin at 5 p.m. Monday, June 25 under the historic colonnades of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Entertainment will be provided by The Sonora Strings of Madison, Wis. The supper is open to the public and tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information or to RSVP, call Jack Lasher at 858-483-1326.
For more information on the 25th Anniversary Summer International Organ Festival, visit sosorgan.org/2012SOF.htm.
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