The American Wind Symphony Orchestra is quite the spectacle to behold. Started in 1957 by Music Director Robert Boudreau, the AWSO is a troupe of approximately 45 musicians, soloists and artists that perform and present their art on the Point Counterpoint II vessel, which can be classified as a floating arts center. The artists that make up the orchestra can hail from all reaches of the world and are most often times from many places other than the United States.

What really make the AWSO unique is not its floating arts center, which is unique in and of itself, rather, it is the fact that all of the musicians and artists that come along for the ride are housed by local resident musicians. Generally, a high school student studying an instrument would be suggested to house an AWSO musician of the same instrument in an effort to offer some one-on-one training to the aspiring young musician, as well as an exchange of culture and friendship.

The City of Ottawa is generously hosting the AWSO for the residents of Ottawa and surrounding areas from June 21 through June 23 on the Illinois River at Allen Park. Each day the orchestra will provide entertainment or interaction with the community. On the 22nd there will be impromptu concerts around the area at yet-to-be-determined locations. This will be followed by the main event held on the 23rd at Allen Park where the entire orchestra will play on the Point Counterpoint II for the crowds sitting on their blankets and in their lawn chairs on the rolling hills of the park.

Admission to the event will be free for all who wish to attend, as the Robert M. Eschbach Endowment Fund, The City of Ottawa and The Edmund Thornton Foundation will underwrite a portion of the event. Other donations are also being solicited to completely cover the cost of this wonderful affair.

In addition to the multiple concerts and community interactions, there will also be a VIP Patrons Event held on the Point Counterpoint II Thursday, June 22. The VIP event will be a lavish wine and cheese event where patrons can meet members of the orchestra, Robert Boudreau, and other artists that are occupying the ship. There will also be a pop-up art gallery aboard for patrons to view. Patrons can enjoy this preview evening for a donation of $150 per couple. Should the demand exceed the evening’s capacity, there will be another VIP Patrons Event added Wednesday, June 21.

The City of Ottawa and participating parties have also secured the talented storyteller and poet Bill Myers to perform some of his work on the vessel before or after the orchestra’s concert.

There is still a need for housing for some of the musicians and artists performing at this event, so you or someone you know is a budding musician and is interested in hosting a very talented musician from Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Canada and the United States. The exchange of musical and cultural knowledge is invaluable and a truly is a unique and rewarding experience.

This year will be the last year the AWSO sets sail on the Point Counterpoint II; the ship and Mr. Boudreau are retiring. Do not miss this incredible opportunity to see a world-renowned act that you will never be able to see again. We are so very lucky to have the city of Ottawa and all of the other backing donors providing the community with such superb entertainment and culture.

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Pamela Beckett
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