Mission & History

Our mission is to enrich the lives of people in our community through high-quality concert programs, music education and community engagement.

Bay Chamber Concerts is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization.

We achieve our mission by:

  1. Continuing our 50+ year tradition of presenting chamber music in the State of Maine.
  2. Introducing audiences to excellence in the performing arts by delivering a diversity of events at a variety of venues.
  3. Offering varied and participatory music education for all ages and abilities regardless of financial need through our music school.
  4. Expanding Community Engagement programs and collaborating with other organizations.
  5. Providing a sound organizational structure, prudent financial management, and an endowment sufficient to accomplish our goals.

With a two-pronged approach to promoting excellence in the performing arts—through education and live music programming—Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School connects a wide range of audiences and ages to some of the most vibrant music and musicians in the world.

Through diverse and dynamic events and first-class instruction, Bay Chamber takes the lead in making classical and new music accessible in Maine.

 

A HISTORY OF BAY CHAMBER CONCERTS

During the 1930’s, the great philanthropist Mary Louise Curtis Bok chose Rockport, Maine as the summer home of her world-class music conservatory, the Philadelphia-based Curtis Institute of Music.  Illustrious musicians from all over the world came to the area to teach and give concerts in July and August in this historic fishing and boat-building village.  Performances were held in a converted boat barn in Rockport, giving the mid-coast the distinction of hosting one of the earliest of American summer music festivals.

The Curtis summer colony was discontinued in 1945, but many musicians continued to summer in Rockport and Camden.  In an effort to restore the great musical tradition of the earlier years two teen-aged musicians, Thomas and Andrew Wolf, established a chamber music organization in 1960, calling it Bay Chamber Concerts. Mary Curtis Bok Zimbalist, the Curtis Institute’s founder, was the original patron and honorary President of the organization.  She was joined by the Wolf’s grandmother, violinist Lea Luboshutz, their uncle, opera impresario Boris Goldovsky and many other musicians who had been part of the Curtis summer colony.

Thomas and Andrew Wolf, Co-founders of Bay Chamber

Other Important Events in the History of Bay Chamber Concerts

 

1961

  • First concert given in Camden Episcopal Church parish house (July13)
  • Establishment of Fox Island Concerts on Vinalhaven Island as ancillary series.
  • First music prize given by Bay Chamber Concerts to a Maine musician for excellence in musicianship. Today eight prizes are given each year with many musicians going on to illustrious careers.

1970

  • Establishment of Machias Bay Chamber Concerts in a town 30 minutes from the Canadian border. Several concerts continue to be presented there under Bay Chamber Concerts’ auspices each summer.

1972

  • Andrew Wolf and Bay Chamber Concerts receive Governor’s Arts Award for distinguished service to the State of Maine.

1973

  • Initial restoration of the Rockport Opera House, built in 1891, which becomes Bay Chamber Concerts’ new home and has been called one of the architectural and acoustical gems of New England.

1974

  • Establishment of Bay Chamber Concerts Winter Series, offering the community year-round concerts and educational residencies throughout the year.

1985

  • Andrew Wolf, long-time Artistic Director, dies at the age of 42. A national chamber music award is established in his memory. Jeffrey Kahane is the first recipient of the prize in 1987 (which consists of a $15,000 cash award and several concerts).

1986

  • Thomas Wolf assumes the position of Artistic Director. Later, the position includes the title of Executive Director.

1987

  • Patron Elsie Bixler gives Bay Chamber Concerts a new Steinway D concert grand piano. Over subsequent years, additional grand pianos are given to Bay Chamber Concerts by many generous patrons.
  • Bay Chamber Concerts adds a second weekly concert to its summer series.

1990

  • Bay Chamber Concerts is awarded several major grants to develop a national model music education project - the Next Generation program. The initiative brings young people from around the state for a summer chamber music camp and becomes regular part of organization.

1991

  • BCC launches classical music radio show with host Thomas Wolf, featuring concert broadcasts and educational commentary.
  • Second renovation of the Rockport Opera House with complete restoration of auditorium and addition of air conditioning. Bay Chamber Concerts contributes a major portion of the cost.

1993

  • Bay Chamber Concerts inaugurates jazz and world music programs throughout the year.

1994

  • Completion of Bay Chamber Concerts capital campaign and establishment of operating endowment.

1999

  • Annual student prize winner concerts initiated by Bay Chamber Concerts.

2000

  • Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills Regional High School introduced as additional venue for large-scale events.

2004

  • Dance performances added to Bay Chamber Concerts offerings

2005

  • Renovated Strand Theatre in Rockland becomes another exciting venue for Bay Chamber Concerts.

2006

  • Odeon Youth Orchestra merges with Bay Chamber Concerts adding educational offerings to the offerings.

2010

  • Bay Chamber Concerts celebrates its 50th Summer Music Festival season and establishes its new home in the Shepherd Block in Rockport Village with the founding of its Music School.

2012

  • Appointment of Artistic Director, Manuel Bagorro, upon the retirement of founder Thomas Wolf

2013

  • Manuel Bagorro establishes the Screen Door Summer Music Festival as part of Bay Chamber’s summer program. Over 30 performances, free and ticketed are offered over a 5-day period in mid-August

2015

  • Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School builds its Community Engagement Program, offering concerts in alternative settings such as Maine State Prison, assisted living facilities and outdoor concerts in parks, on harbors and at Lake Megunticook

2018

  • Bay Chamber’s offerings grow to include more than 60 performances per year and a music school with over 500 participants annually.