Parting Shot

Organ Donation

Issue 142

The Spreckels Organ Pavilion houses the open-air Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. It’s the world’s largest pipe organ in a fully outdoor venue. John D. and Adolph B. Spreckels gave the organ and the pavilion as gifts to San Diego and the world in 1914.

2 comments on “Organ Donation”

  1. Fun facts:
    Also considered the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument.
    Just reopened to public outdoor concerts on July 31, with a five hour live concert after 72 weeks of recorded performances premiering each week on Sunday, 2pm Pacific time.
    Original donation for organ and building was $1 million or $26 million adjusted for inflation.
    Expanded from 3,000 pipes to over 5,100 today and replacement cost would be about $46 million.
    San Diego Civic Organist and guests have played every Sunday at 2pm PST FOR 105 years only missing a few performances due to thunderstorms, wildfire, a broken blower motor, WWII, and the pandemic which was supplemented on social media. Throughout history, less than 1% of these free concerts have been missed.
    All concerts are at no charge to the public. Support comes from the City of San Diego, contributions of attendees, and generous contributions from the members and trustees of the Spreckels Organ Society.
    Our cost to produce these concerts with world class artists averages about $5 per attendee with over 100,000 attending each year.
    The organ and variety of classical and pop programming is dedicated to being a gateway… introducing young and old alike from all socio-economic situations to the healing power of live music.
    We host an organ loaner program for students.
    We partner with Balboa Park to offer a weekly musical program for 5th grade students during the school year.
    We host a contest for student organists with the American Guild of Organists.
    We are building a research library for organ scholars.
    Each summer/fall we feature a 10-12 week International Organ Festival on Monday evenings with top organists and accompanying soloists from around the world.
    When the organ was premiered at the Panama Exposition in 1915, about 60,000 people attended. At the time San Diego’s population was 75,000.
    Today the organ pavillion seats 2,500 and weekly concerts attract about 1,000. Special concerts attract 3,000-5,000. During the Covid lockdown, we attracted up to 2,200 to our social media programs and our donations supporting the programs grew 30%.
    Raúl Prieto Ramírez is the Eighth Civic Organist and Dale Sorenson is the Fifth Curator in the 105 Year history.

    For more information or to make a donation reach us at

    Gordon Stanley
    Vice President, Spreckels Organ Society and chief audio engineer

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