MACHIAS, Maine — When a member of the Chamber Concerts of Rockport came to Washington County in 1969 to purchase property, his real estate agent suggested he establish a concert series in Machias.
That musician, Thomas Wolf, embraced the idea and chose the Centre Street Congregational Church as the venue because of its wonderful acoustics.
Tuesday night, nearly 200 people attended the 236th concert, marking the 40th anniversary of the Machias Bay Chamber Concerts.
Flautist Wolf returned for the occasion, and brought soprano Emily Martin and pianist Frederick Moyer with him.
Before the performance, however, a special patron of the arts was recognized for decades of sponsorship to the concerts.
Norma Marin was presented with the Robert M. Guptill Award, an annual presentation to honor an individual or organization for outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Washington County. Guptill was the real estate agent who brought the concerts to Machias in 1969.
“Norma Marin is not only passionate about art, she is passionate about Maine,” Marjorie Ahlin of the concerts’ board of trustees said.
The daughter-in-law of famed painter John Marin, she has been generous with funding and art, Ahlin said. Many of her donations can be found at Colby College in Waterville, the University of Maine at Machias and even the Harrington Health Center, where Marin said it might make the time pass more easily with something beautiful to look at.
Years ago, Marin moved from New York to Addison, where she established her own gallery, Cape Split Place.
“She has made significant contributions to community projects,” Ahlin noted, including funding the exterior renovations of the Centre Street church, purchasing the hotel next to it to allow for expansion of the church, and donating a new Steinway piano for the concerts.
“She has been tireless, enthusiastic and generous,” Ahlin said. Clearly surprised by the award, Marin stepped from the audience Tuesday night to accept it.
Previous recipients of the Guptill Award include Thomas Wolf, Gene Nichols, the church, Machias Savings Bank, Eastport Arts Center, Trond Saeverud and Maurine Jans.