All concerts on the Spreckels Organ are free to the public in accordance with the 1915 Deed of Gift whereby the brothers John and Adolph Spreckels gave the organ and pavilion to the City of San Diego.
To work cooperatively with the City in order to fulfill and expand upon the promise of regular free concerts on the City´s organ, the Spreckels Organ Society was founded in 1988. Its mission: to preserve, program, and promote the Spreckels Organ as a world treasure for all people.
The Spreckels Organ Society is a volunteer-driven 501-C-3 non-profit organization (Tax ID 33-0299072) that anyone may join. (Join or Donate at THIS LINK.)
Immediately upon its founding, the Society augmented the City-supported schedule of regular Sunday afternoon concerts by launching a multi-concert organ festival, inviting guest artists to present long-form concerts on a series of summer evenings, during a time when busy Balboa Park would be a bit quieter than usual. In 2021, the Society is planning the 34th season of the San Diego International Organ Festival.
Until March 2020, concerts on the Spreckels Organ were given every Sunday at 2 p.m. for one hour. Beginning Sunday, March 22, 2020 and continuing through the ¨all-clear¨ of COVID Phase 4, the concerts are offered free on YouTube, with a premiere every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., upholding the tradition of a Sunday afternoon concert that’s free to all. Use THIS LINK to learn more about the online concerts.
San Diego’s musical gift to the world has lifted many hearts during a time of isolation, and the Society is committed to sustaining the organ’s online audience with continuing posts of music even when the live concerts begin once more.
The Society also looks forward to producing an International Organ Festival for the summer of 2021, conditions permitting.
Does the World’s Largest Outdoor Organ ever get wet?
Since it does sometimes rain in San Diego — here’s how the organ is protected from the elements.
The Spreckels Organ Society maintains strong relations with other organizations to promote music education in general and pipe organ music in particular. Together with the San Diego chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Society sponsors scholarship awards and an annual competition, enabling several student organists to perform for Sunday concert audiences each year.
The Jared Jacobsen Education Fund, a memorial to a beloved educator and former civic organist, underwrites the visits made by elementary school class groups to the Pavilion.
When schools are in session, these visits are scheduled as part of the menu of opportunities that Balboa Park institutions offer to Fifth graders in the San Diego Unified School District. The class visits include a mini-concert, a demonstration of how the pipes of the organ create sound, and a backstage look at this great instrument. They learn that, like the animals at the Zoo, the organ is owned by all the citizens of San Diego.
During the COVID period, the Society has laid a foundation for more ¨distance learning¨ options, identifying projects in need of funding that can introduce the organ to students everywhere.
A Public Pavilion for Events of Every Type
In addition to organ concerts, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion functions as a venue for a diverse range of performances and events that are produced by other groups. The annual ´December Nights¨ celebration is one example, along with the 30-year summer tradition of ¨Twilight in the Park,¨ a live-music performance series held in the summer under the auspices of the Parks & Recreation Department.
The status of public health rules as to the limitations on the size of public gatherings is the key to understanding when live events may once again be organized at the Organ Pavilion. Without controlled entrances, the Pavilion is a place where people come and go at will. Unlike an outdoor museum, the venue has no paid staff to monitor compiance with social distancing rules.
In future days when the protection of public health allows for large gatherings, groups that seek to use the Pavilion for events — with or without the music of the organ — can apply for a permit to use the venue by contacting the San Diego Park & Recreation Office of Developed Regional Parks at 619-235-1169. CLICK HERE to learn more; until further notice, such permits are not being issued.
A Musical Family: the Spreckels Organ Society
At any given time, the Spreckels Organ Society boasts approximately 1,000 members who renew annually. Membership benefits include:
- 10% gift shop discount
- Invitations to member events
- Close-up volunteer opportunities – CLICK HERE for more info
- Support for musical programming and educational scholarships
Special Events are Typically Scheduled
- A gathering of up to 100 for lunch, plus a special organ concert and a tour offered by Curatorial staff that explores the organ´s wind chest and pipe loft;
- A “Bachs” Supper gathering before one of the summer concerts;
- A Beer/Wine Tasting event