The score for ‘Winds Over the Glades’ goes like this

PAHOKEE — When Robert Boudreau arranged with the encouragement of local officials and investors to bring his historic “floating arts center” to the marina here this summer, the intent of everyone involved was to give the old vessel a new life as a centerpiece of Glades culture.

The Point Counterpoint II, which is the ship’s formal name, has been a waterborne concert hall, theater and art museum for over four decades, bringing live instrumentalists to perform for audiences throughout the United States and the Caribbean, across the Atlantic to the River Thames in Great Britain, the Seine in France and the Rhine in Germany. It’s also visited North Sea and Baltic Sea ports in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Baltic nations, the Gulf of Finland, as well as St. Petersburg, Russia.

Robert Boudreau, maestro of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra and captain of the Point Counterpoint II concert vessel, listens as school board member Marcia Andrews speaks with district officials during the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce meeting Aug. 21. Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker

But its main legacy, aside from American pride (it was constructed for the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976), is an educational one. For much of its existence, it’s been a floating conservatory also, which goes to the point of why Mr. Boudreau — Robert, as he insists on being called — brought the ship to the Glades.

His idea for a Winds Over the Glades Scholars Program, an educational consortium of sorts, will be based on the format he used — actually, invented — for the Winds on the Mon Scholars Program in Pennsylvania, where he lives.

The American Wind Symphony Orchestra, which Robert founded in 1957, established Winds on the Mon (“Mon” is short for Monongahela, the name of the river where the PCII was based) in 1994 as a five-year pilot project. It met with great success, involving hundreds of students across eight school districts, about 35 percent of whom eventually were offered either full or partial college music scholarships, packages often worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Winds Over the Glades, he says, will seek to replicate the Pennsylvania program’s successes in a five-year program beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. A local committee now being formed under the leadership of Pahokee Chamber of Commerce Director Regina Bohlen and Mr. Boudreau will, if it follows his blueprint:

• Focus on instruction for instruments most sought after by college scholarship programs, which are bassoon, French horn, harp and trombone. Other instruments to be included are clarinet, flute, piano, timpani, trombone, trumpet, tuba and all percussion instruments.

• Seek to hire a dozen young professional musicians to visit schools and provide private, small-group instruction to participants, inspiring them to practice diligently, learn at an accelerated rate and achieve unusual proficiency on their instrument, thus making them prime candidates for scholarships to universities that are starved for musicians to fill their bands and orchestras.

• Partner with up to six school districts in the region, envisioned to take in all the counties around Lake Okeechobee: Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee, St. Lucie and Martin, for starters, and seek financing from them to cover beginning costs. The biggest will be new instruments, estimated to run around $400,000. The other major expense will be salaries and living expenses for the teachers, estimated at $180,000.

• Promote its musicians’ involvement in chamber music groups, exhibitions with their fellow instrumentalists from other school districts and, eventually, public performances from the stage of the Point Counterpoint II.

Robert envisions getting various regional stakeholders to coalesce around the idea and make this program possible. His breakdown of the potential funding scheme shows it will depend on a very wide “village” of band and orchestral music supporters to make Winds Over the Glades a reality, needing six school districts, six foundations, six corporations and six municipalities to step up and contribute $25,000 each per semester, or $50,000 per year.

But already, the Pahokee group has several enthusiastic backers, of whom the most key person may turn out to be the Palm Beach County School Board member representing District 6, which covers the western end of the county including the Glades — Marcia Andrews.

She listened intently as Robert and Kathleen Boudreau gave a brief presentation, showed a historic video about the PCII and talked about the scholarship program idea in an informal roundtable discussion at the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 21.

Ms. Andrews soon got on the phone with Assistant Schools Superintendent Keith Oswald, describing what they were envisioning and asking to set up some meetings for the Boudreaus’ next visit, expected sometime in mid- to late September, with Superintendent Donald Fennoy and some of the district’s arts program leaders.

The hope is that they can get the word out, do some fundraising and plan to have the first music teachers and students recruited and ready to build on the Winds Over the Glades blueprints by the dawn of 2019.

 

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