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Classical 101

Saving Point Counterpoint II: The Uncertain Future of the Floating Concert Hall

Louis Kahn Estonia Foundation Facebook page
Point Counterpoint II, a 195-foot-long barge, was designed for orchestra concerts along the shore.

Anyone want to buy a floating concert venue that looks like a spaceship?

As recently reported in the Chicago Tribune, cellist Yo-Yo Ma is on a mission to save an unusual music-related architectural anomaly: Louis Kahn's floating concert hall, Point Counterpoint II.

Ma made the plea in The New York Review of Books, responding to a review of "A Mystic Monumentality," about the American architect Kahn.

Point Counterpoint II seems to me, in spirit, like a cross between a Mark Twain-era riverboat and something from Star Trek. It's a futuristic-looking 195-foot-long barge that was designed to carry an orchestra up and down the nation's waterways, stopping to give concerts to audiences on the shore along the way.

It was built in 1976 as part of the celebrations of the United States Bicentennial.

Take a guided tour:


The boat was designed for the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, a group founded and directed by Robert Boudreau. He and his wife have owned and operated Point Counterpoint II since the '70s, and it sounds like they are ready to quit. Boudreau, who's 90, wants to sell it for $2 million.

As noted in the Tribune article, Point Counterpoint II still has a somewhat uncertain future. Chicago missed out on the chance to acquire it, and now it's looking like it could dock in upstate New York, along the Hudson River in Kingston.

It would look pretty cool, though, on the shore of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus near COSI, wouldn't it? Hamburg, Germany, may have its shiny new concert hall that sits on the Elbe River, but if there was enough interest, maybe we could have our own more modest, but futuristic Point Counterpoint II — to boldly go where no band has gone before.