Let­ters from

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - Yo-Yo Ma Cam­bridge, Mas­sachusetts

To the Ed­i­tors:

I read Martin Filler’s sweep­ing sur­vey of Louis Kahn’s life and work [“A Mys­tic Mon­u­men­tal­ity,” NYR, June 22] with great in­ter­est. Louis Kahn has been on my mind lately—not for the strik­ing creations that tes­tify to his decades as “Amer­ica’s master builder,” so many of which I know and love, but for his brief ten­ure as a ship­wright. In the mid-1960s, con­duc­tor Robert Austin Boudreau—Kahn’s friend and mine—com­mis­sioned Kahn to de­sign a unique float­ing con­cert hall, one that would carry an or­ches­tra up and down Amer­ica’s wa­ter­ways in a grand cel­e­bra­tion of the Bi­cen­ten­nial. Launched in 1976, the 195-foot Point Coun­ter­point II has trav­eled Amer­ica’s rivers, lakes, and in­ter­coastal wa­ter­ways; the Caribbean, Baltic, and Ir­ish Seas; and the rivers of north­ern Europe. An­chor­ing in large cities and small towns, in busy ship­ping lanes and at pub­lic parks, the barge opens like a clamshell to re­veal a glit­ter­ing con­cert stage. Au­di­ences on shore de­light in the mu­sic, much of it spe­cially com­posed for Mae­stro Boudreau and his Amer­i­can Wind Sym­phony Or­ches­tra.

While Point Coun­ter­point II might lack the so­lid­ity and re­pose that Martin Filler so elo­quently at­tributes to Kahn’s build­ings, it is no less mon­u­men­tal: it sails as a pow­er­ful, liv­ing tes­ta­ment to Amer­i­can cre­ativ­ity and to the ele­men­tal role that cul­ture plays in hu­man life.

Af­ter five decades, Robert Boudreau (who just turned ninety) and his wife, Kath­leen, have de­cided that they can­not keep run­ning the barge. De­spite their best ef­forts, they have not yet found a new guardian for it. Lack­ing an al­ter­na­tive, in late July, at the con­clu­sion of the or­ches­tra’s 2017 tour, this re­mark­able, mo­bile cul­tural in­sti­tu­tion will be bro­ken down to scrap in a Louisiana ship­yard.

At a time when our na­tional con­ver­sa­tion is so of­ten fo­cused on divi­sion, we can ill af­ford to con­demn to the scrap heap such a vi­brant am­bas­sador for our na­tional unity, so I humbly ask that your read­ers join Robert and me in find­ing a new home for Point Coun­ter­point II. Please share any sug­ges­tions with Robert and Kath­leen at awso@con­sol­i­dated.net.

Point Coun­ter­point II, de­signed by Louis Kahn and launched in 1976; un­dated pho­to­graph

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