Support Your Local Outdoor Pipe Organ!

The Pipe Organ was invented in the 3rd Century BC.  Pipe organs are powerful, marvelous musical instruments.  Most of them are harnessed in service to the Almighty (in churches), which makes a municipal pipe organ all the more special, as it’s free to play secular music from the greatest composers of all time.  I’m convinced a live pipe organ experience should be on everyone’s bucket list…

To view FULLSCREEN, click anywhere on the comic twice.

Special Thanks to Dale Sorenson, Associate Organ Curator, who allowed me access to some of the inner workings of the organ and made himself readily available to answer my many pesky questions! Dale, you’re a good sport! I’d also like to thank Honorary Trustee Hal Doerr for his helpful explanations and models of how the pipes work, and Spreckels Organ Society Executive Administrator Ross Porter for his time and helpfulness as well.  It’s a nice group of people at the organ–it’s a real labor of love, how everyone contributes whole-heartedly for each Sunday performance.


8 responses

  1. Geoff, What a wonderful mini educational “comic” You sure had an up close and personal introduction to these gigantic, melodius wonders. On NPR, Michael Barone hosts organ concerts, and I think that site also shows pictures of organs across the country. Our former organist at First Scots left to go to The First Congregational Church in LA. From one console, he controls other consoles located in alcoves surrounding the sanctuary. Take a look. You might also be interested in some the European organs in the grand cathedrals.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    • Yes, in my research for this comic, I came across a number of impressive organs. This site gives you 360 degree interactive viewing of the Massey Memorial Organ in Chautauqua, New York: The largest pipe organ in the world is the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall Pipe Organ. It has over 33,000 pipes. The biggest pipes are 64 feet long! Sadly, it’s barely functional and needs a major restoration. The Wanamaker Organ in Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia is almost as big with over 28,000 pipes. It’s the world’s largest operational musical instrument and gets played a couple times a day.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm

  2. Barb

    FASCINATING!!!!!! How neat that you put the research into this to share with us!!!! Thanks, Geoff!

    September 5, 2012 at 2:50 am

    • I’m really glad you liked it! It took me nearly four weeks, going back to the organ each Sunday, to get all the information and photos I needed to put this together. There was so much more I wanted to write, but didn’t want to make it too text-heavy. Maybe I’ll do another Spreckels Organ comic sometime. BTW, I’m glad you subscribed!

      September 6, 2012 at 5:27 am

  3. Geoff, What a terrific article complete with photos. It would give anyone a good idea of what goes into a pipe organ, and specifically the Spreckels Organ in the park. I do hope it encourages people to come and hear the instrument on any Sunday afternoon. It’s quite an experience!

    Many thanks,

    Ronald De Fields, President
    The Spreckels Organ Society

    September 5, 2012 at 10:32 am

    • Hi Ron–Thanks the nice feedback! I had ALL kinds of fun making this comic. I share your hope that it will inspire others to come check out the Spreckels Organ for themselves. There seems to be a steady cultural shift toward a re-valuing of old things: Old School is cool, Vintage is hip, and Retro is all the rage these days, not to mention whole new (neo) markets devoted to “Lo-Fi” technology. I’m optimistic the SOS will get a “bounce” from this trend, especially with the younger generation. I plan on inviting my 17- and 20-year-olds to come attend next Sunday’s performance. If I see you, I will introduce myself!

      September 6, 2012 at 5:21 am

  4. I attended a Spreckels organ concert over ten years ago and this is a nice reminder. I hope to hear it live again someday but it’s long way from me here in the UK.

    September 7, 2012 at 11:31 pm

  5. Mary

    Geoff, I really enjoyed the photos of your trip with Jake to the Goat Canyon Tressel…and this write up on the Spreckles Organ in Balboa Park is terrific too. I go to the concerts when I can and really enjoy them.

    March 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm

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