Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

American Wind Symphony Returns to City in Fine Style

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

American Wind Symphony Returns to City in Fine Style

Article excerpt

With the majesty of a brig and the conjuring power of Brigadoon, the remarkable barge of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra returned to Pittsburgh Saturday night.

In a concert as surreal as they come, the ensemble's silver boat - - Point Counterpoint II -- docked at Point State Park. With a midsection that opened to reveal a stage complete with acoustic shell, the boat looked like an alien spaceship. But it was a familiar sight to many of the 300-some people who assembled on the Allegheny River side. While it has been 15 years since conductor Robert Boudreau last piloted the boat here, many in attendance had come to its concerts back when they happened frequently here, the city where he founded the group in 1957. Like the villagers in that mythical Scottish village, many acted as if only a day had passed since the Wind Symphony's last visit.

"It was wonderful then, and it's wonderful now," said a woman who sat near me. Another shouted "Too long!" after Mr. Boudreau said, "It's been nearly 20 years since we've been here."

A Juilliard-trained trumpeter, creative conductor and indefatigable entrepreneur, Mr. Boudreau came to Pittsburgh in the 1950s to teach at Duquesne University. But he soon found academia couldn't contain his restless and energetic soul. Something about the Three Rivers pulled at him, as if he had been a riverboat gambler in a previous life. But the idea that he formulated was to use waterways to bring music to towns with little means for large ensemble concerts. Mr. Boudreau grew up on a farm in Bellingham, Mass., and he understood the world on whose road art music travels less.

With the help of H.J. Heinz II and David Lawrence and others, Mr. Boudreau launched his first boat, a motorless barge, in 1957, and then the self-propelled Point Counterpoint II in 1976. Though he has a house in Mars, he is more often on the water.

From the beginning he has staffed the orchestra with young people willing to spend a summer on the rivers and seas (yes, he has taken the boat to other countries, from Cuba to Russia). This tour is no different, accompanied by a youthful group of about 40 international student musicians with plenty of chops to handle the difficulties of playing in the open air. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.