History | July 24, 2017 5:00 am

Yo-Yo Ma Launches Campaign Save Louis Kahn’s Historic Concert Boat

One-of-a-kind craft was launched in 1976 and has sailed the world on numerous musical tours.

In the mid-1960s, conductor Robert Austin Boudreau commissioned architect Louis Kahn to design a unique floating concert hall that would carry an orchestra up and down America's waterways. Yo-Yo Ma recently penned a letter trying to save it.
In the mid-1960s, conductor Robert Austin Boudreau commissioned architect Louis Kahn to design a unique floating concert hall that would carry an orchestra up and down America's waterways. Yo-Yo Ma recently penned a letter trying to save it. (Flickr: Spablab)

In the mid-1960s, conductor Robert Austin Boudreau commissioned architect Louis Kahn to design a unique floating concert hall that would carry an orchestra up and down America’s waterways.

The Point Counterpoint II is a self-propelled barge and floating stage designed by famed architect Louis Kahn built in 1976. Flickr: Joseph

Kahn agreed and the Point Counterpoint II was launched in 1976. The 195-foot ship has traveled around America’s rivers, lakes, and intercoastal waterways, as well as the Caribbean, Baltic and Irish Seas, and many rivers of northern Europe. But now that ship is facing imminent destruction if it cannot find a new home.

Boudreau, now 90, and his wife Kathleen have decided they cannot keep running the barge and they have not been able to find anyone interested in buying it.

Yo-Yo Ma wrote a letter in NY Books that pleads for help from the public in finding a new home for this historic ship. If not, plans are to break it down into scrap in a Louisiana shipyard at the end of the American Wind Orchestra’s 2017 tour.

Hall of Fame Inductee Yo-Yo Ma attends Lincoln Center Hall Of Fame Gala at the Alice Tully Hall on June 6, 2017 in New York City.
Hall of Fame Inductee Yo-Yo Ma attends Lincoln Center Hall Of Fame Gala at the Alice Tully Hall on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lincoln Center)

Kahn designed the barge to reveal a concert stage when it opens. Boudreau and his orchestra have played many concerts on the barge, as have others.

Ma says that the barge is a “powerful, living testament to American creativity and to the elemental role that culture plays in human life.” The musician hopes that at a time when the national conversation is rife with tension, we can find a way to keep that testament alive. His letter says to share any suggestions with Robert and Kathleen at awso@consolidated.net.