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Balboa Park Organist Carol Williams Steps Down

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Spreckels Organ Society

Carol Williams is pictured in this undated photo.

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available. A transcript has been made available.

Civic Organist Carol Williams announced she's leaving San Diego and giving up her post as the city's official organist.

The musician said her husband, Kerry Bell, accepted a job offer in Virginia, and she'll be moving there with him. Going to the East Coast also puts the British native closer to family.

"It's a unique job and I loved it for 15 plus years," she said. "It's been absolutely great, but musically, I need to move on."

Williams said she will be doing more composing, as well as performing shows and giving master classes around the world.

Williams has served as the San Diego Civic Organist since 2001 and is known for her free Sunday performances at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Often, she plays the world's largest outdoor pipe organ in an evening gown.

She will continue serving as the Spreckels Organ Society's artistic director, helping the organization find a replacement. And making sure the popular Sunday organ concerts continue.

"There's an international search to find somebody," she said. "We're looking for someone with a lot of energy and with an open-mindedness to work with the people of San Diego. The organist is part of the city."

Williams, the first woman to hold the title of civic organist, took the Balboa Park job in 2001. Along with traditional organ concerts, she's also teamed up with punk rock bands and composed tributes to David Bowie. She is planning a return to San Diego in the summer of 2017 to perform a tribute to the organ-centric 1960s band, The Doors.

Williams' last concert will be Sept. 25.

Centennial Spreckels Fanfare, Op.14 by Carol Williams

KPBS producer Michael Lipkin, Evening Edition anchor Ebone Monet and video journalist Guillermo Sevilla contributed to this report.


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