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Cape Girardeau, like all Mississippi River towns, has been entertained from time to time by riverboats. Seldom was the entertainment of the quality that will be demonstrated when the American Wind Symphony Orchestra performs on the riverfront Friday night. This performance and the handful of mini-concerts around the community are a real treat for Cape Girardeau, and we welcome this first-rate troupe of musicians to the city.

The American Wind Symphony, whose travels include stops along waterways in the United States as well as in Canada, the Caribbean and Europe, is no stranger to Cape Girardeau. The floating symphony last played in this city in 1988, though in landlubber fashion. Low water prevented the troupe's concert barge from arriving and a performance was given at Capaha Park. The last time the full presentation was made in Cape Girardeau, boat and orchestra, was in 1984.

The distinction between these two stops is significant, because the boat is part of the attraction. At 195-feet long and 38-feet wide, the Point Counterpoint II, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., is a remarkable vessel. Not only does the self-propelled barge contain a hydraulically opened stage and band shell, but it also is a floating arts center carrying a variety of contemporary crafts and sculpture. Directing the vessel and the orchestra is Robert Austin Boudreau, a musician with impeccable credentials and a dreamer without self-limitation.

The public be treated to the free concert on the riverfront at 8 p.m. Friday, and a mini concert will be performed tonight at Southeast Missouri State University and small chamber presentations will be offered at various community locations at noon Friday. The public can also indulge in riverfront rehearsals from 2 to 4 p.m. today and Friday.

The stop here by the American Wind Symphony is a highlight of the summer. We applaud those who have helped plan for the event, especially Dr. Dan Cotner, who has done yeoman's work in rounding up sponsors and housing for the orchestra. We look forward to some beautiful music on the river.