Bay Chamber Concerts will turns 50 this summer and artistic director and co-founder Thomas Wolf has announced the organization’s 50th Anniversary season.

“It is a milestone for us and so many distinguished musicians from all over the world want to be part of it,” he said.

The season will open July 1 at 8 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House, 6 Central St. Altogether, there will be 25 summer events. Tickets and subscriptions are available by calling the box office at 236-2823 or visiting the Web site, baychamberconcerts.org.

Wolf said he is thrilled that opening night will feature violinist Shmuel Ashkenasi and pianist Peter Serkin.

“Shmuel played in the very first season. He then went on to take a major prize at one of the most prestigious of International Competitions (the Tchaikovsky in Moscow). Peter Serkin played in the second season and has also gone on to an illustrious career,” said Wolf.

After the July 1 concert, Ashkenasi will appear with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

“Like the rest of us, he was a teenager back in our earliest days. I remember he arrived with a torn suit coat that my mother had to sew up backstage before he went on,” said Wolf.

There will be programs starting at 8 p.m. every Thursday night in July and August at the Rockport Opera House. At 7 p.m., free pre-concert talks featuring the musicians and Thomas Wolf will be held in the downstairs meeting room. On Wednesday nights, an 8 p.m. Rockland series at the Strand Theatre will be preceded by free 7 p.m. music and art talks at the Farnsworth Art Museum. Two special concerts will occur at the Farnsworth’s Wyeth Center on Aug. 11; the first concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the second at 8:45 p.m. After all concerts, there will be a free post-concert reception with the artists and complimentary refreshments.

Wolf recalled how Bay Chamber Concerts got started when his late brother, Andy, and he wanted to revive the concerts that had been going on in Rockport since 1930, when Mary Curtis Bok established the summer school of her famous Philadelphia-based Curtis Institute of Music in Rockport. The Wolf brothers’ grandmother, Lea Luboshutz, was a violin professor at the school and had one of the teaching houses on Rockport Harbor.

“Andy and I gave our first concerts in that house. He was 13 and I was 11. Many illustrious musicians were in the audience. It was a heady experience and we caught the performing bug. We and some of our musician friends wanted to move on to a real concert hall,” he said.

Among those who will return to Rockport this summer are such luminaries as the international violin star Midori and pianist Menahem Pressler, now in his eighth decade of performing. The series will be anchored by Bay Chamber Concerts’ resident ensemble, the St. Lawrence String Quartet. There will be ample opportunity to hear young and emerging talent including the annual concert of students from the Curtis Institute of Music appearing with their distinguished director, violist Roberto Diaz.

“And we will present young people from Bay Chamber Concerts’ own music school, which is in the process of moving into the newly renovated Shepherd Block in Rockport Village. It is a return to our roots, to what Bay Chamber Concerts is all about — young musicians and seasoned stars performing together as part of a vibrant musical community,” said Wolf.

In addition to the classical music concerts, the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble will appear on Wednesday, July 14; and the music and film evening (a Buster Keaton classic with original live music) will return Wednesday, Aug. 18. Bay Chamber will be offering three free concerts as part this season, including a special 50th anniversary outdoor concert at the Camden Harbor Park. Emil Stuccio and The Classics return to Camden to perform with The Chiclettes in Bay Chamber’s July 3rd Doo-Wop Bash. These popular singing groups will provide a concert to kick-off Independence Day Weekend that will include evening fireworks in Camden.

“To be part of Bay Chamber Concerts is to be part of an extended family. The audience feels it and the musicians feel it … It has been going on for decades and hopefully will continue for at least another 50 years,” said Wolf.

A variety of subscriptions are available for the 2010 Summer Music Festival, with package options ranging from just five to all 18 series concerts. Subscribers receive a discount on their tickets, as well as other benefits including complimentary ticket exchange privileges and advance notice of coming events. Packages include a Passport (full series), Wednesday Nights, Thursday Nights and the flexible Explore Pass where one can compile his or her own selections.

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

Bay Chamber Concerts is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization. Down East Magazine is the underwriter for the Summer Music Festival and the media sponsor is VillageSoup.com. 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.