July 1, 2021

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Free organ concerts return in Balboa Park

Free organ concerts return in Balboa Park

SAN DIEGO – Free concerts have returned to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park for the first time in 15 months. World-renowned shows went virtual during the pandemic, but returned in person starting Sunday.

We spoke with San Diego civic organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, who shared a sneak peek of what to expect for the show’s return.

“Each concert always includes a Bach piece, some jazz, some rock arrangements, like Queen or Led zeppelin,” said Prieto Ramírez.

Prieto Ramírez has been an organ enthusiast since he was 11 years old.

“It gives me all the potential to enjoy life.”

At 16, he said he left his hometown in Spain to pursue his career as an organist. He trained, acted and taught around the world. In 2018, he assumed the role of San Diego Civic Organist.

Raúl Prieto Ramírez was selected after an international search to play the Spreckles organ in Balboa Park. Every Sunday at 2pm, park visitors can enjoy music and sun for free. Lizzet López has more information.

“It is [Pabellón Spreckels] it’s like a second home, definitely. I spend so many hours practicing behind the scenes, ”said Prieto Ramírez.

He said he is proud to play the world’s largest outdoor instrument – the organ at the Spreckels Pavilion in Balboa Park.

“The instrument is the whole building. Its more than 5,000 tubes, more than 32 feet long. These do not even fit in the building, they are folded ”, explained Prieto Ramírez.

He said he plays with 30 pedals and 61 keys. Wear special tailored shoes for playing. And he compared the complex multitasking approach of sports or dance.

“It is absolutely unique. This is something you need to experience at least once in your life,” said Prieto Ramírez.

Prieto Ramírez is proud that he and his team never stopped their Sunday concerts. By the time the park closed and live music was banned, Prieto Ramírez and the Spreckels Pavilion staff brought the concerts online.

The permanent outdoor space and public park cost $ 85 million and will also serve as a cultural center that will host other events throughout the year.

“We didn’t miss a single Sunday. The first week we were already online,” Prieto Ramírez said. He said he is eager to return to the concerts in person and bring joy by sharing his passion with the community.

Prieto Ramírez, while playing a preview for NBC 7, drew crowds to the pavilion. Many requested songs for Prieto Ramírez to play over the next few weekends. Some of his regulars said they were excited to learn that they would be able to see the concerts in person again.

Prieto Ramírez said he plans to play songs from West Side Story, pieces from Pictures at an Exhibition, Bach’s Toccata in D minor and Clair de Lune, to name a few. The concerts last between 50 minutes to an hour and are free, every Sunday from 2 pm