Bay Chamber Concerts will launch its 51st Summer Music Festival Friday, July 1 at 8 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House, 6 Central St. The Opening Night concert showcases chamber music masters Shmuel Ashkenasi, violin, and Menahem Pressler, piano, who will perform great duos by Mozart, Schubert and Franck. The kickoff concert is offered in memory of Anne R. and Richard W. Davidson.

Tickets for Opening Night are $50 for adults and $8 for youth younger than 19. This special event includes a champagne reception following the performance at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, just down the street from the opera House. Concertgoers are invited to view the exhibitions at CMCA and visit their new gift shop.

During the season, ticketholders are invited to attend a free pre-concert talk featuring the musicians and Bay Chamber’s artistic director, Thomas Wolf. Thursday night pre-concert talks, held each week as part of the Summer Music Festival series, will give concertgoers the opportunity to learn about the works on the program and to meet the musicians in an informal and intimate setting. This talk will take place at 7 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room of the Rockport Opera House.

The season underwriter for the 2011 Summer Music Festival is Down East Enterprises; the Associate Underwriter is the Samoset Resort; and the Media Sponsor is VillageSoup. For more information or to purchase tickets for Opening Night, visit baychamberconcerts.org or call the Box Office at 236-2823.

Subscriptions are still available for the summer series — choose one of three subscription options and enjoy huge savings. Discounts are available up to 30 percent off tickets for subscribers and groups of eight or more.  Several summer events are free and open to the public.

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