Celebrating Wolf's 50 years

Jun 10, 2012
Tom Wolf

Rockport — Bay Chamber Concerts will present a very special performance Saturday, June 23 at the Rockport Opera House in celebration of Thomas Wolf’s 50-year legacy as its founder and artistic director. The event, aptly titled Music Among Friends, will begin 8 p.m.

The Music Among Friends evening will feature Wolf himself alongside some of his longtime colleagues, each of whom are world-class musicians in his or her own right. Wolf co-founded Bay Chamber Concerts with his brother Andrew when they were teenagers in 1961; this concert will mark Tom Wolf’s retirement after 52 years leading the organization.

"This concert will serve as my ‘party’ without speeches and no long dinner. It will simply be a concert with superb musicians — all good friends — and with music that has been important in my life," Wolf said.

The concert is being held at the Rockport Opera House, with its remarkable history and even more remarkable acoustics, he added, saying "It is the venue that has been my musical home since it was brought back to life in 1974.”

The gala program will feature Arensky’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35; Handel’s Trio Sonata in G minor, Op. 2, No. 8; and Shumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44.

In addition to the music, the program will include a special screening of the short film “Musical Gifts.” Directed by D’Arcy Marsh, the film tells the story of the 50-year history of Bay Chamber Concerts. Wolf said it is meaningful to him because it includes cameos by some of his cherished relatives who are no longer alive but were important to the history of music in Rockport.

The world-class lineup of performers include Curtis Institute of Music director and violist Roberto Diaz; former Boston Symphony concertmaster Joseph Silverstein; Muir Quartet cellist Michael Reynolds; and Vermeer Quartet members Shmuel Ashkenasi, violin, and cellist Marc Johnson, along with pianist Gloria Chien.  The concert will be followed by a champagne and dessert reception with the musicians at the nearby Center for Maine Contemporary Art.

During the 1930s, the great philanthropist Mary Louise Curtis Bok chose Rockport 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 the historic fishing and boat-building village.  Performances were held in a converted boat barn in Rockport, giving the Midcoast the distinction of hosting one of the earliest of American summer music festivals.

The Curtis summer colony was discontinued in 1945, but many musicians remained summer residents of Rockport and Camden. In an effort to restore the great musical tradition of the earlier years, two teen 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.

In 2010, Bay Chamber Concerts celebrated its 50th Summer Music Festival season. That same year, the organization established a new home in the Shepherd Block in Rockport village  The renovation by Leucadia Corporation provided state-of-the-art headquarters for Bay Chamber’s recently founded Music School, complete with studios, classrooms and a recital hall. Today, Bay Chamber offers more than 40 lives performances each year, several of them free, and has more than 300 students enrolled in the music school. Wolf’s legacy is certain to continue well into the future.

Tickets to “Music Among Friends” are $50 and include the champagne reception. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Bay Chamber Concerts at 236-2823, toll-free at (888) 707-2770; or visit baychamberconcerts.org.

Courier Publications' A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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