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Floating orchestra to visit city

The Bainbridge City Council voted Tuesday night to take the lead in organizing a renowned symphony orchestra’s visit and performance on a Flint River barge next year.

At Mayor Edward Reynolds’ recommendation, the council voted 5-1 to enter into contract with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra to perform a concert in Bainbridge in May 2012.

Founded in 1957 by Robert Austin Boudreau, who still serves as its conductor, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra has a floating arts center and stage which it uses to perform music at a number of riverfront destinations.

Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer cast the lone no vote on moving forward with the contract, a non-agenda item that created some debate among council members.

Palmer said she supported the idea of having the symphony visit Bainbridge but opposed the idea of the city government serving as the “host committee” responsible for sponsoring the event.

According to City Manager Chris Hobby, the contract stipulates that the host committee—in this case, the City of Bainbridge—pay a $7,500 down payment to lock in the concert date. The total cost of the orchestra’s visit, per the contract, would be $25,000.

Mayor Reynolds said private individuals have already pledged $7,000 toward the concert’s cost and more is anticipated.

Palmer cited two concerns: one, that if the full amount is not raised privately, the city government would be burdened with the cost; and two, that she believed there could be additional costs not specified in the contract associated with hosting other public events during the orchestra’s stay.

According to Reynolds, the orchestra’s 40 musicians would be temporarily housed with Bainbridge residents, ideally with families who have young music students.

There is also the issue of getting the orchestra’s 195-feet-long by 38-feet-wide vessel up the Flint River, however, Reynolds said he had been told the orchestra has received initial support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Reynolds said the orchestra also plans to visit Eufaula, Ala., and Columbus, Ga., on the same leg of next year’s tour.

The orchestra’s Web site is www.americanwindsymphonyorchestra.org