Bay Chamber Concerts turns 50 this summer as Midcoast Maine’s premiere presenter of the performing arts. Several special events, including Pop the Cork 2010, Natalie’s World Red Carpet and Sneak Peek!, have been planned to celebrate the special occasion and to benefit Bay Chamber Concerts and its community music school.

In addition, Farmers Fare, the Farnsworth Art Museum, Center for Maine Contemporary Art and Bay Chamber Concerts are planning ongoing summer collaborations as part of the anniversary season.

“We are fortunate to have many generous partners to share in our celebration this summer,” said managing director Monica Kelly.

Pop the Cork 2010

On Thursday, June 17, the third annual Pop the Cork multi-venue event will benefit Bay Chamber Concerts while celebrating food, wine, music and art. Attendees will enjoy live music by Grammy-nominated Oleta Adams along with performances by Secret Service and local sensations Grupo Esperanza and Line of Force. They also can savor food and wine pairings featuring Spanish tapas and a raw oyster bar created by Lani Temple of Megunticook Market in Camden and be dazzled by performance art by Madgirl World’s Meredith Alex. There are sure to be plenty of extra surprises including the unveiling of Cellardoor Winery’s latest Artist Series Release.

Parking will be available at Rockport Elementary School with trolley service to the events. Advance ticket purchase is required.  Tickets are $75, and all proceeds will benefit Bay Chamber Concerts. To purchase tickets, call 763-4478 or visit brownpapertickets.com for the full schedule.

Natalie’s World Red Carpet Event

On Sunday, June 20, Natalie’s Restaurant in Camden is celebrating Bay Chambers Concerts’ 50th anniversary with Natalie’s World Red Carpet Event. Between 5 and 8 p.m., Natalie’s will offer complimentary wines, hors d’oeuvres, live music and tons of fun. Various companies will be showcasing wines and champagnes, including Cellardoor Winery, Central Distributors, Pine State Wines, Wicked Wines and Easterly Wines. Christine O’Lary, voted one of the top 50 funniest lesbian comedians, will be performing a standup comedy routine to promote the launch of ticket sales for her “Christine” one-woman show in November.  Cocktail attire is requested, and all are invited to attend; RSVP to dine@camdenharbourinn.com.

Sneak Peek!

On Saturday, July 31, Bay Chamber Concerts is presenting Sneak Peek!, a special benefit concert for its community music school as well as the official unveiling of Bay Chamber’s new facilities in Rockport village. The concert will be one-of-a-kind, with Bay Chamber’s Young Stars Prize-winning quartet Calliope, performing Mozart’s flute quartet with artistic director Thomas Wolf in his final public performance. The Calliope Quartet — Josie and Sophie Davis, violins; Nathan Hillman, viola; and Nora Willauer, cello — will be joined by Bay Chamber’s resident string quartet, the St. Lawrence — Geoff Nuttall and Scott St. John, violins; Leslie Robertson, viola; and Christopher Costanza, cello — for the incomparable Mendelssohn Octet. Proceeds from Sneak Peek! will benefit Bay Chamber’s scholarship program; tickets are $125 and can be ordered by calling 236-2823 or visiting baychamberconcerts.org.

Farmer’s Fare Thursdays

This summer, Farmer’s Fare will host a weekly special event for Bay Chamber patrons at their Café and Market at 3 Cross St. at Route 90 in Rockport. Bay Chamber concertgoers will be treated to parking, a light meal and a free round-trip shuttle service to the pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. or concert at 8 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House. Local foods by local producers will be featured including light fare, cheese, wine and charcuterie. The event will be ongoing Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m., July 1 through Aug. 26.

Music and Art Talks

Bay Chamber Concerts will present pre-concert talks Wednesday and Thursdays starting at 7 p.m. New this year will be that Wednesday nights will feature pre-concert Music and Art talks with Wolf; Michael Komanecky, chief curator of the Farnsworth Art Museum; and guests in the galleries of the downtown Rockland museum. Pre-concert talks on Thursday nights will feature the musicians and Wolf in the downstairs meeting room at the Rockport Opera House.

Founded in 1961 by brothers Andrew and Thomas Wolf, Bay Chamber is dedicated to sustaining classical music as an art form. In concerts and in the classroom, Bay Chamber feels a responsibility to pass along this rich musical heritage to people of all ages and abilities while at the same time acknowledging the importance and encouraging the exploration of all musical languages.

A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, for 50 years, Bay Chamber has awarded annual prizes to young Maine Musicians. Bay Chamber Community Music School offers private instruction, orchestral opportunities and other music education to local musicians and community members of all ages and abilities.

Bay Chamber Concerts presents music year-round through two performance series: the Summer Music Festival during the months of July and August, featuring classical, jazz and film events in the historic Rockport Opera House and Strand Theatre in Rockland; and the Performing Arts Series from October through May, showcasing a variety of classical, jazz and world music, as well as dance events in venues throughout Midcoast Maine.

Tickets to most of the events in the Summer Music Festival are $30/$40 for adults, $8 for youth younger than 19. Discounts are available up to 30 percent off tickets for subscribers and groups of eight or more. Several events are free and open to the public.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Bay Chamber Concerts at 236-2823, toll-free at 888-707-2770 or online at baychamberconcerts.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.