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Interest sought for symphony on a barge

A concert on a barge along the Mississippi riverfront would be one of the highlighted performances if the American Wind Symphony plays in Hastings this year. Other featured performances could include chamber performances and a special patrons' concert.

An informational public meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, in the community room at Hastings City Hall to determine if there is public interest and support to host the American Wind Symphony Orchestra.

Hastings resident Dennis Pellant is one of the organizers of the meeting and a supporter of the orchestra. He remembers when the orchestra was held in Hastings more than 30 years ago.

"When they were here, people in the community housed the musicians," he said. "Tim Moratzka (resident who still lives here) hired four of the musicians and they played in his backyard."

The event was a three-day one, with a major highlight being the concert on the river. There were also musical performances throughout the community.

This year's riverfront concert would be on the converted barge (the orchestra main playing stage) moored by the Hastings American Legion clubrooms.

For 53 years, the American Wind Symphony has been making musical headlines along the waterways of the United States, the Caribbean and northern Europe. The group continues to perform under the leadership of Maestro Robert Austin Boudreau.

Founded in 1957 by Boudreau, the American Wind Symphony has become well known for bringing its music to people on its floating arts center and stage. Boudreau has commissioned more than 400 new musical compositions, which have premiered during each season's concert tour. He is also the skipper for the 195-foot barge.

The orchestra's audiences bring folding chairs and blankets to the river to watch and listen to the orchestra. This would not be the orchestra's only appearance.

Boudreau will be at the Feb. 26 meeting to describe the upcoming concert tour. He was asked to come to Hastings by the Hastings Concert Association, the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and City Hall.

The Feb. 26 meeting is open to all interested people.