Monday, June 20, 2011



SAN DIEGO, CA – A San Diego Summer tradition since 1987, the Spreckels Organ Society presents the 2011 Summer International Organ Festival featuring celebrated organists from around the world playing each Monday evening from June 20 through August 29, 2011 at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. The historic Spreckels Organ is the largest outdoor pipe organ in America situated at the center of one of the country’s most beautiful urban parks.

All 2011 Summer International Organ Festival concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free of charge. Music loving children and pets are welcome. Light snacks, beverages and unique gifts are available on the pavilion grounds with proceeds benefiting the not-for-profit Spreckels Organ Society, helping to preserve, program and promote the Spreckels Organ as a world treasure for all people.

The Summer International Organ Festival opens on Monday, June 20 with Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society, joined by the House of Scotland Pipe Band, the Finest City Brass Herald Trumpets and the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a concert entitled “Celebration.” British-born Williams began private lessons at age five and started her formal training at the Royal Academy of Music. Awarded all major prizes for organ performance, Williams received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Manhattan School of Music and is the first woman in the country to be appointed to the position of Civic Organist.

Celebrate the opening night of the Summer International Organ Festival on Mon. June 20 with a festive Bach's Supper Taco Fiesta. A buffet of freshly made tacos by La Taquiza will begin at 5:00 p.m., served with beer, wine and soft drinks under the historic colonnades of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The event is open to the public and tickets must be purchased in advance ($30 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under). Send your name, address, e-mail, number of tickets and payment to Spreckels Organ Society, 1549 El Prado, Ste. 10, San Diego, CA 92101 before June 15. For more information e-mail Jack Lasher at or call (858) 483-1326.

Monday, June 27, brings Jonathan Ortloff, 2008 winner of the American Theatre Organ Society’s Young Theatre Organist Competition, to the Spreckels Organ. Ortloff holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester in organ performance and interdisciplinary engineering. He began piano at age 3 and organ at age 10. He made his theatre organ debut for the Rochester Theatre Organ Society in 2007 and has since performed for numerous theatre organ groups throughout the United States.

Award-winning American theatre organist Walt Strony performs a special Independence Day Celebration concert in Balboa Park on Monday, July 4. Strony has given hundreds of concerts both nationally and internationally. He has been featured organist at conventions of the American Theater Organ Society and the American Guild of Organists and in 1991 and in 1993 he was honored with the title, "Organist of the Year" by the American Theater Organ Society. He is only living organist ever to receive this award more than once.

On Monday July 11, Scott Dettra, Organist and Associate Director of Music at the Washington National Cathedral, takes the console. Dettra has performed extensively throughout the Unites States at American Guild of Organists conventions as well as concerts at the Lincoln Center Festival, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Arizona Bach Festival, the Bermuda Music Festival and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. He holds two degrees from Westminster Choir College and also studied jazz piano at the Manhattan School of Music.

Samuel “Sal” Soria comes to San Diego on Monday, July 18. Organist at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, Soria is a graduate of Valparaiso and Northwestern Universities and has twice won the American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation.

On Monday, July 25, the Spreckels Organ Society welcomes Austrian concert organist Helmuth Luksch to San Diego. Luksch is Principal Organist at the Main City Parish Church St. Egid in Klagenfurt, Austria as well as the Artistic Director for Kufstein, Tyrol, the world’s largest outdoor organ. Luksch studied at the Vienna Muskhochschule, is a member of the Diocesan Commission for Church Music and holds the title of Supervisor of Organs for the Diocese of Gurk. Since 1989 he has taught at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Luksch is an active concert artist in Europe and has radio broadcasts and CD recordings to his credit. He is also a composer of works for chorus, organ, and chamber ensembles.

Christopher Houlihan is bright star in the new generation of American organists and will grace the Spreckels Organ stage on Monday, August 1. Houlihan made his debut with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra while still in college. During a year of study in France, he earned the “Prix de Perfectionnement” from the French National Regional Conservatory in Versailles and was invited to perform for the Versailles Le Mois Moliere Festival. A graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Houlihan is currently a graduate student at The Juilliard School in New York.

Always an audience favorite, Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton returns to the Spreckels Organ on Monday, August 8 joined by Jason Ginter, timpanist and percussionist. Plimpton is nationally lauded pipe organist who serves as resident organist at the First United Methodist Church. Widely respected as an exciting recitalist, he has performed in major venues throughout the United States, including five regional conventions and two national conventions of the American Guild of Organists. His foreign concerts have taken him to Israel and Jordan, several European counties, and Taiwan. He is also in demand as an ensemble player and accompanist. He has performed with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the San Diego Master Chorale, the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra, and the San Diego Symphony.

Jason Ginter is former Principal Timpanist of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra the Peoria Symphony and the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Forth Worth Symphony Orchestras, is a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and winner of the 2008 Carnegie Mellon Concerto Competition. He owns JGpercussion, a company specializing in high quality percussion products. He presently serves on the music faculty of the University of San Diego.

David Arcus, Chapel Organist at Duke University, joins us on Monday, August 15. Arcus studied at Oberlin Conservatory and received his graduate degrees at the Yale University School of Music. An active recitalist, he has performed all over Europe and in the United States in such venues as the Washington National Cathedral, London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Paris’s St. Sulpice. Arcus is also a composer and won the 2000 Holtkamp-American Guild of Organists Competition in Organ Composition for his entry “Song of Ruth and Naomi.”

Beloved silent movie master Dennis James returns on Monday August 22 for the Spreckels Organ Silent Movie Night. This year he will perform live accompaniment to the 1924 Paramount Films classic Peter Pan, directed by Herbert Brenon. For more than thirty years, Dennis James has played a pivotal role in the international revival of silent films presented with live music. Starting as a pianist for university screenings, James now tours worldwide under the auspices of his Silent Film Concerts production company presenting professional silent film screenings with piano, theatre organ, chamber ensemble and full symphony orchestra accompaniments. Performing for films with orchestras since 1971 throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe, James is renowned for providing the most comprehensive selection of authentic silent films with live music presentations available today.

A Best of Hollywood Night performed by Civic Organist Carol Williams and friends will close the 2011 Summer International Organ Festival with a festive grand finale on Monday, August 29.

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 December 31, 1914. The Spreckels Organ is the largest outdoor pipe organ in America and is sponsored by the City of San Diego, The Department of Parks and Recreation and the non-profit Spreckels Organ Society who assure that this civic treasure entertains music lovers throughout the year. Afternoon organ concerts by Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego Civic Organist, and guest artists are performed every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. free of charge.

The not-for-profit Spreckels Organ Society was founded in 1988. With over 1,900 members world-wide, and governed by an all-volunteer Board of Trustees, the Society presents more than 100 free concerts a year and attracts over 100,000 people annually. For more information about the Spreckels Organ Society including a listing of upcoming concerts, visit or the Spreckels Organ Society Facebook fan page.