Bay Chamber Concerts

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A Bay Chamber Concert

Bay Chamber Concerts is a non-profit organization located in downtown Rockport, Maine. Bay Chamber Concerts plays a principal role in bringing music, particularly classical music, to the Mid Coast area. During the months of July and August Bay Chamber Concerts hosts a Summer Music Festival bringing an assortment of musical groups to the Strand Theatre in Rockland, Maine and the Rockport Opera House in Rockport, Maine. Preceding concerts at the Rockport Opera House Bay Chamber also holds a "Pre-Show Talk" allowing audience members to speak with the performers. In addition, during the winter months, Bay Chamber brings various performers to the Camden, Rockport and Rockland area through their Performing Arts Series.

Bay Chamber founding and history[edit]

Andrew Wolf, pianist, and flutist Thomas Wolf founded Bay Chamber Concerts as a summer chamber music festival in 1961. The teenage brothers with the inspiration and financial assistance of Mrs. Mary Louise Curtis Zimbalist Bok, their grandmother (the violinist Lea Luboshutz) and their uncle (the opera impresario, Boris Goldovsky) established Bay Chamber in an effort to revive a musical tradition begun by the great philanthropist Mary Louise Curtis in 1930.

From 1930 to 1945 Mary Louise Curtis hosted a summer music program at the Curtis Institute of Music. Illustrious musicians from all over the world came to Rockport, Maine to teach and to give concerts in a boat barn. Despite the summer music program's discontinuation in 1945, many musicians continued to come to the Rockport area with their students. As summer residents of Rockport, Maine since early childhood and alumni of the Curtis Institute, Thomas and Andrew Wolf viewed founding Bay Chamber Concerts as a means of continuing Curtis's musical legacy.

The early concerts, under the artistic direction of Thomas Wolf, were held in an Episcopal Church in Camden. At the same time, the Wolf brothers were instrumental in establishing the Fox Island Concerts on Vinalhaven, an island off the mid-coast of Maine. In 1970, Bay Chamber Concerts assisted in the founding of Machias Bay Chamber Concerts in a town 30 miles from the Canada–US border. Under Bay Chamber Concerts' auspices each summer, both locations continue to present numerous concerts.

Andrew Wolf became Bay Chamber Concert's artistic director in 1963. During his tenure, the concerts were moved to the newly renovated Rockport Opera House effectively doubling the seating capacity to 400 and securing a venue with marvelous acoustics. In 1974, Bay Chamber Concerts became a year-round organization, started by Minnie Kent Biggs, presenting a mix-genre musical series in the Rockport Opera House during the fall, winter and spring. Dance was added to this series in 2003, and Bay Chamber Concerts also assists in the production of a lecture series in conjunction with the Camden Public Library.

Following the death of Andrew Wolf in December 1985, Thomas Wolf took over once again as Artistic Director and an endowment was created to underwrite a national music award in Andrew Wolf's memory.

Strand Theatre

In 1993, Bay Chamber Concerts, along with the Town of Rockport and private contributors, raised $1,000,000 to restore the Rockport Opera House, improving the auditorium, adding meeting rooms and its hospitality facilities. The Rockport Opera House remains an important venue for Bay Chamber Concerts. It now also uses the recently renovated (2005) 350-seat Strand Theatre in Rockland, the 500-seat Camden Opera House, and the 800-seat Strom Auditorium in Rockport.

Bay Chamber Concerts annually hosts several chamber music ensembles and specific musicians. These ensembles and musicians include: the Vermeer Quartet, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the First Chair All Stars (an ensemble of First Chair musicians from some of the United States’ top orchestras assembled by Bay Chamber concerts), Muir Quartet, Stephen Prutsman (piano and composer), James Campbell (clarinet), Menahem Pressler (piano), Joseph Silverstein (violin), Roy Malan (violin), Nicole Johnson (cello), Kirsten Johnson (viola), James Dunham (viola), Deborah Dunham (bass), Michael Bahmann (harpsichord), Harold Robinson (bass), Lauren Kitt (clarinet), Lynn Chang (violin), Peter Zazofsky (violin), Harumi Rhodes (violin), Max Levinson (piano), Paul Stewart (piano), and Roberto Diaz (viola).

Along with these recurring musicians and ensembles Bay Chamber Concerts has also recently presented the following performance groups and/or performers: Midori (Summer ’07), Marvin Hamlisch (Fall ’06), Sean Curran Company (Winter ’06), Cherish the Ladies (Winter ’06), Ragamala Music and Dance Theater (Winter ’07), The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (Winter ’07), Kit Armstrong (Spring ’07), Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Spring ’07), Wynton Marsalis (Fall ’05), Dave Bruebeck and Sons (Fall ’04), and Judy Collins (Fall ’03). Past performers at Bay Chamber Concerts included: Hidetaro Suzuki (violin), Takaoki Sugitani (violin), Jay Humeston (cello), David Kadarauch (cello), and Zeyda Ruga Suzuki (piano).

Education programs and awards[edit]

Since its inception, Bay Chamber Concerts has been committed to providing educational opportunities to students of all ages. For more than forty years, Bay Chamber Concerts has awarded annual prizes to young Maine musicians. Education programs are also provided for school children throughout the year. Bay Chamber Concerts offers educational activities for adults. In addition, to deepen the Mid Coast's musical experience, Bay Chamber has also offered various residencies with visiting artists including master classes, question and answer sessions, and dance workshops.

Young Stars of Maine

The Young Stars of Maine awards six prizes created to recognize, encourage, and reward young Maine music students who are serious in their study and performance of music. The six prizes are as follows: the A.H. Chatfield, Jr. Piano Prize, the Jean and Harvey Picker Senior Prize (instrumental or vocal), the Elsie Bixler Junior Prize (instrumental), the Ezra Rachlin Fun with Music (instrumental or vocal), the Nathan E. Corning Jazz Prize (instrumental or vocal), and the Summer Music Woodwind Prize. Auditions are held for prospective prize winners. The Young Stars Prizes are awarded at a special concert, given by the audition winners at the Rockport Opera House. The concert opens Bay Chamber Concerts’ Summer Music Festival.

Rockport Opera House

The Andrew Wolf Chamber Award

At the time of his death at the age of 42 on December 22, 1985, Andrew Wolf was widely recognized as one of the nation's leading chamber music pianists. Perhaps best known through his concerts with Isaac Stern, he collaborated with many artists including the cellists, Leonard Rose and Leslie Parnas, as well as the Vermeer Quartet. Born into a musical family, he studied first with his grandmother, the violinist Lea Luboshutz. But it was under Rudolf Serkin and Miercyslaw Horszowski at the Curtis Institute of Music that he began to develop his unique pianistic style that Le Nouveau Journal in Paris described as "stunning and dramatic." When he made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Inquirer described him as "a young poet of the piano." In the next two decades he established a specialty as a chamber music pianist and was described by the Washington Star "as a pianist in a class quite by himself." Devoting himself to chamber music, Andrew Wolf helped establish the Bay Chamber Concerts series in Rockport, Maine and was its Artistic Director for 23 years. He also served as Director of the All Newton Music School in Massachusetts from 1977 to 1985.

In early 1986, many of Andrew Wolf's friends and colleagues established a specially endowed prize that would encourage other chamber music pianists. Because Andrew Wolf was philosophically opposed to musical competitions—which could damage the careers of those who did not win—the procedure for selecting the recipient of the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award does not involve any public competition. Rather, it involves a process of confidential nominations and a review of nominees through tapes and public performances. Only the names of award recipients are announced to the public. The award recipient must be a pianist under the age of forty who is an American citizen or permanent resident of the United States and has made a serious commitment and contribution to the chamber music field.

The first Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award was presented to pianist Jeffrey Kahane in the summer of 1987. Other recipients include: Lydia Artymiw, 1989; Christopher O'Riley, 1991; Wu Han, 1993; Anne-Marie McDermott, 1995; Jeremy Denk, 1999; Jonathan Biss 2001; Natalie Zhu, 2003; and Max Levinson, 2005.

Next Generation

Since 1990, Bay Chamber Concerts has sponsored Next Generation, a two session music camp held each August. The camp brings up to eighty young Maine musicians, between the ages of ten and twenty to Rockport, Maine to study and perform chamber music. Next Generation is coached by internationally known musicians and music teachers. Recent coaches have included violinist Joseph Silverstein, long-time concertmaster of the Boston Symphony; pianist Gary Graffman of the Curtis Institute; and clarinetist Loren Kitt of the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as members of the resident Vermeer Quartet. Bay Chamber Concerts founded Next Generation in an effort to serve the next generation of young musicians. Over the years the program has evolved into its present form: five days of ensemble practice, culminating in a public concert on stage at the historic and acoustically superb Rockport Opera House. Artistic Directors of the program since its inception are Kathie and Marc Johnson. Kathie is an award-winning piano and chamber music teacher from Chicago, and Marc is the cellist of the Vermeer Quartet. While participating in the program, students develop their musical skills under the tutelage of internationally known musicians. They also practice ear training, sight singing and Eurhythmics. The program is open to piano, string, brass, woodwind and voice students.

Odeon Youth Orchestra

Mission and History Odeon Youth Orchestra was founded in 2000 as a community youth string orchestra and in 2006 merged with Bay Chamber Concerts. The mission of the Odeon Youth Orchestra is to offer young string musicians the opportunity to play in a variety of ensemble settings, helping them develop the musical skills necessary for ensemble play and providing them with opportunities to perform orchestral and other string works in concerts that are open to the public. The Odeon Youth Orchestra is open to all youth, public, private and home schooled. All levels of ability are accepted in the orchestra, since beginning, intermediate and advanced ensemble opportunities are offered. Auditions are held to place players in the appropriate ensemble. Two twelve-week sessions are offered each year, one each in the fall and spring, culminating in concerts open to the public. Odeon's Conductor Augusto Salazar is the conductor of the Odeon Youth Orchestra. He is a native of Bolivia and lives in Kittery, Maine. Salazar is also the conductor and founder of the Bow Street Youth Ensemble of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as the conductor and founder of the Seacoast Community Chamber Orchestra, also of Portsmouth. He has been teaching string students privately since 1980, and performs as a violist with the Andrea Trio throughout New England. The Vivaldi Project The Vivaldi Project is a string instrument loan program of the Odeon Youth Orchestra. The Project was established in 2004 to enhance the musical education experiences of children affiliated with Odeon and the Ashwood Waldorf School by providing access to quality string instruments and master classes. Members of the Odeon Youth Orchestra and/or students of the Ashwood School are eligible for this program.

Fall Foliage and Chamber Music Weekend

In October, the height of the autumn color season in beautiful Mid Coast Maine, Bay Chamber Concerts coordinates the "Fall Foliage and Chamber Music Weekend." Fall Foliage is a chamber music workshop for forty-five adult amateur strings players, pianists and pre-formed wind ensembles. Together, these music enthusiasts study chamber music from Bay Chamber's repertoire, are coached by some of the country's finest chamber musicians, and are given the opportunity to host a private performance in the historic Rockport Opera House.

The Artistic Director since the inception of the program in 2001 is Michael Reynolds, cellist of the Muir Quartet. Coaching faculty for the 2006 Fall Foliage Weekend included Mike Reynolds and fellow Muir quartet member Peter Zazofsky, violin; violist Maria Lambros of the Mendelssohn Quartet and the Peabody Conservatory; pianist Cary Lewis, a member of the Lanier Trio and recently retired from the faculty of Georgia State University in Atlanta; and Rhonda Rider, cello faculty and Coordinator of Chamber Music at The Boston Conservatory and founding member of the Lydian Quartet.

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