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Spreckels Outdoor Pipe Organ at Balboa Park, San Diego

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Published on Dec 25, 2008

Robert Plimpton made this video on August 17, 1998, during his years as Civic Organist to the city of San Diego. Here he plays the well-known 4-manual Austin pipe organ installed in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at San Diego's Balboa Park. Mr. Plimpton plays one of his favorite works by his colleague / mentor from his days in Philadelphia, the Rhumba for Organ by Robert Elmore.

The Rhumba is in a style that calls to mind the jazz music of George Gershwin. The work mixes both classical and jazz / theatre organ elements. Mr. Plimpton reinforces the theatre organ aspects of the piece in his choice of registration, where he adapts the classic sounds of the Spreckels organ to give the impression of a theatre organ (in the middle, lyrical section).

If you listen carefully, you can hear the very unique outdoor acoustic of Balboa Park. Although there is no room ambience because the organ speaks into the outdoors, there is a delay echo, that rebounds after about 2/3 second as the organ sound returns from a reflection about 600 feet away in another area of the park.

The tradition of outdoor organ concerts started with the installation and completion of the organ pavilion about 1917. This tradition at Balboa Park continues to this day, with weekly free Sunday afternoon concerts and special evening concerts during the summer months.

The complete video from which this video is excerpted is Episode #13 of the Midnight Pipes tv series (produced by Frederick Hohman) and a VHS Hi-Fi home video may still be obtained from www.zarex.com. For details and purchase links, enter "9013" in the search box at www.zarex.com/bin .

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