About AWSO

For 53 years, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra has been making musical headlines along the waterways of the United States, the Caribbean and Northern Europe. Called “a remarkable cultural phenomenon” by New York Magazine’s music critic Alan Rich, the group continues to perform under the baton of Maestro Robert Austin Boudreau. 

American Wind Symphony Orchestra performing aboard their floating arts center, Point Counterpoint II.
American Wind Symphony Orchestra performing aboard their floating arts center, Point Counterpoint II.

Founded in 1957 by Mr. Boudreau, the American Wind Symphony has become an institution known for bringing its music to the masses via its floating arts center and stage. Mr. Boudreau has commissioned over 400 new musical compositions, which have been premiered during each season’s concert tour. Each summer over the past half century, Maestro Boudreau, has motivated his top notch young musicians to perform at their highest capacity to the delight of concert goers.

In between seasons, Mr. Boudreau and the American Wind Symphony Orchestra along with special guest artists have recorded many of the commissioned works concert goers have heard during annual performance tours. A diverse collection of recorded music is contained in 10 CDs.


Bringing Music to the People

Like those old showboats of old, it reached everyone – a wonderful cross-section of ages and backgrounds. It brought new music, challenging music, as well as old familiar favorites. Like a dose of instant culture, it was both festive and fun. –Louis Kenngott, Music Critic Milwaukee Journal

The orchestra’s audiences bring folding chairs and blankets to the riverside and watch in fascination as the shell of the orchestra’s floating arts center, “Point Counterpoint II”, opens and the music begins. From that point on, there is a shared experience between audience and performers that is remembered for many years to come. The music is unique and exciting, the floating stage is a one-of-a-kind wonder, and the setting is a harmonious blending of river sounds, the lowering sun, and camaraderie with one’s neighbors. Robert Boudreau has truly found a way to make the arts a part of life.


The Floating Arts Center Point Counterpoint II

The arrival of Point Counterpoint II at the riverfront always causes a stir. The silver vessel, 195 feet long and 38 feet wide, was once mistaken for a UFO, as it headed for its harbor on a foggy day. This vessel was designed by the renowned architect Louis I. Kahn, subject of the recently released documentary film, My Architect, which was nominated for an Academy Award. On board the vessel, in addition to the central stage, one can find art galleries and a small theatre.


International Acclaim

European and Scandinavian audiences reacted enthusiastically to the wind orchestra and its outdoor concerts during its multi-year international tour. Liz Allen in the Evening Herald (Dublin, Ireland) wrote,

…a spectacular performance of classics and jazz was given by the American Wind Symphony Orchestra from Pittsburgh – from the stage of a 60m futuristic floating center… ’Fantastic, brilliant, emotional.’ ‘It’s like the start of the Olympics.’ These comments from audience members summed up their reactions to the concert as the orchestra played on.

Josef Frusch in Limburgs Dagblad (Heerlan, Netherlands) said,

Clearly the real wind music lover heard what he came to hear with this virtuoso orchestra, which smoothly changed gears from complex modern harmonies to a big band sound, and then back again to a rhythmic pace which highlighted percussion.

Of a rainy evening concert in Cork, Ireland, Tim Cramer in Evening ECHO wrote,

For over two hours they stood…and clapped, cheered and whistled in appreciation as the famed American Wind Symphony Orchestra put on a performance that took the gloom out of the night and sent everyone home happy.