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The Floating Symphony


Hey, buddy, want to buy a barge? The Point Counterpoint II is looking for a new owner. And he or she should prepare to be noticed.

ROBERT BOUDREAU: The SS Point Counterpoint II looks like a figment of Captain Nemo's imagination or a leftover prop from "Star Wars" (laughter).

SIMON: That's Robert Boudreau, current owner of The Point Counterpoint II. Mr. Boudreau is an accomplished trumpet player and conductor who made his barge into a floating concert hall. But his childhood dream was to be a chicken farmer - or should that be chicken rancher? In any case, one day, Robert Boudreau decided his future just wasn't chicken feed.

BOUDREAU: And I made a terrible mistake when I was 9 years old. I picked up a trumpet.

SIMON: He studied at Juilliard on a Fulbright in Paris then got a job as a professor of music at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. It was there in that city nestled between three rivers, he became involved in the effort to bring the city's waterfronts to life with music. He headed for the shipyard and started his orchestra on a salvaged barge. He called it the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. But he began to imagine something a little grander.

Louis Kahn designed the Point Counterpoint II in the 1960s, a sleek silver boat with large portholes and a retractable stage right in the middle of the deck. It's a stage that has unfolded around the world.

BOUDREAU: We can connect from New York City into the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi, up the Mississippi. We were the first U.S. flag vessel to go to the Soviet Union. We went up the Seine river to Paris and up the Thames River for the 800th anniversary of the city of London. We've been to Guantanamo Bay of all places.

SIMON: Robert Boudreau says he now wants to pass the ship to new owners who might have the means and imagination to keep Point Counterpoint II steaming around the world. He still has some dreams for his floating concert hall.

BOUDREAU: My dream now is that we use this vessel to create a platform for our young people, instead of playing with those little gadgets they're playing with now, to create an opportunity for dance, for theater, for music, for all the arts.

SIMON: As far as Maestro Boudreau is concerned...

BOUDREAU: I'm entering my 91st year, I'm just beginning life.

SIMON: Robert Boudreau founder of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra. Music, ahoy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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