Pat Shingleton: "A Windy Organ..."
Ampurdan is located in the extreme northeastern section of Spain. In this area, intense winds blow from the Pyrenees. High pressure forces down slope air through the mountain passes as the air warms by compression. Similar to California's Santa Ana winds, that fuel wildfires these seasonal blasts have wind gusts that reach speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. Surrealist artist Salvador Dali had an unusual fascination with these winds, believing they could be utilized for an unusual purpose. Residents of this area believed that the winds were so strong they could drive a man insane and referred to it as the "tramontane." Years ago, the Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society reported that prior to his death 27 years ago, Dali believed he could utilize this wind to power a pipe organ, which would be heard by residents throughout the area. In 2006, three Spanish entrepreneurs constructed a giant wind-powered organ originally designed by Dali. With $1.2 million, engineers at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona built two prototypes. A "wind accumulator" collects the mountain wind in a giant funnel that is pushed into a pressure regulator that blows through 500 pipes of the organ. The accumulator factors the winds unpredictability and lets the organ play itself on windy days and lets the organist play it on calmer days. The organ was built near Dali's birthplace of Figueras. The first performance was in for September, 2004 with German composer Wolfgang Seifen writing the scores and performing on this wind-driven instrument.