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San Diego’s Civic Organist Makes His Official Spreckels Debut

Spanish organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez appears in this undated photo.

Credit: Spreckels Organ Society

Above: Spanish organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez appears in this undated photo.

San Diego's New Civic Organist Makes His Spreckels Debut


Raúl Prieto Ramírez, civic organist, City of San Diego


Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego’s new civic organist, wasn’t always a believer in the city’s Spreckels organ, the largest outdoor pipe organ.

“I always thought this instrument was never going to work,” he said.

Before Ramírez played here for the first time four years ago, he was skeptical the organ’s sound would carry in the open air. But after that guest performance, he changed his tune.

“The instrument is so flexible. I like to do arrangements of rock music and things like that for fun and in most organs it doesn’t work, so I just do it at home,” he said. “And in this organ, everything I have been doing for fun works so consistently, so it’s just like a dream.”

Ramírez was tapped to be the city’s new organist in December. He played his inaugural show in the position in early January. He said the Spreckels organ is a mix between a classic organ and a more modern theater organ with lots of percussion, giving it that wide range. For his first show, he played a mix of Camille Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre,” Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Ramírez will play most Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. He joins KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday with more about his career and his new role.

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