A beloved Malibu music venue is returning

Photo by Matt Dine.

While many white-collar workers were able to pivot to remote employment during the long coronavirus pandemic, musicians weren’t as lucky. With venues shut down for months on end and musicians isolated, it was nearly impossible for orchestras to do what they love to do: perform. That hasn’t stopped the artists of the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture (MAHMA). They are now presenting concerts online to share the gift of music not only with Malibu audiences but with the world.

“Montgomery Arts House Presents…” is now a YouTube channel with concert offerings presented by the popular Malibu music venue.

“When the pandemic hit, like most musicians, we were stymied,” said conductor/violist Scott Hosfeld. Hosfeld also serves as president of the non-profit Malibu Friends of Music, the presenting organization of MAHMA. The conductor and his family of performers cleverly adapted concerts for the digital age and internet platform, finally settling on YouTube. “During lockdown, the switch to filmed concerts let us keep connecting within our very disconnected world,” said Maria Newman, MAHMA composer in residence and wife of Hosfeld. The postings have thousands of views in just two months of the channel’s launch. Premier broadcasts are scheduled at various times “to connect with people all over the world in different time zones: London, Hawaii, California, and New York,” Newman explained. “Our music feels familiar while still having a modern edge,” she said. “I think it speaks to all ages. We’ve got an audience from kids to mature, wonderful people excited about what we do.”

MAHMA features a classic repertoire and, as Newman explained, a “crossover between classical and film music” that is very familiar to the violinist. Newman is a member of the famous Newman musical dynasty. Her father, nine-time Academy Award winner Alfred Newman, composed, arranged, and conducted film orchestras for three decades. He also composed the iconic 20th Century Fox fanfare.

Maria’s uncle, Emil Newman, is also a celebrated film and TV composer. Another uncle, Lionel Newman, won an Oscar for Best Score of a Musical Picture for “Hello Dolly.” Maria’s brother Thomas Newman is a prominent composer for TV and film with 15 Academy Award nominations and six Grammy Awards. Her other brother David Newman has scored more than 100 films. Their cousin is celebrated singer/songwriter Randy Newman, with two Academy Awards, three Emmys, and seven Grammys. The extended Newman family is the most nominated in the Motion Picture Academy with a collective 95 nominations in various music categories.

“I’m proud to be a part of this creative family. They’ve given me the inspiration to live out your dream.” Maria has composed more than 150 works. She was commissioned by the Mary Pickford Foundation, among others, to score the accompaniment to the silent screen star’s legacy of work along with bringing musical life to other vintage silents. “She has a big library of work,” said Hosfeld.

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Photo by Juan Tallo

The couple are in-demand studio musicians, composers, and arrangers, lending their artistry to the film world; however, their main focus is MAHMA which opened its door 20 years ago. The stunning venue and home they share with their five children was designed by architect Eric Lloyd Wright, Malibu resident, and grandson of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The river rock structure was built acoustically specific for the performance of music. Before the pandemic, the Malibu venue was presenting roughly 40 concerts a year.

In-person concerts are planned to resume this spring, possibly as soon as April or May. The property has an indoor/outdoor performance space equipped with heaters in case it gets chilly. Twinkling lights strung across greenery make for a lovely evening musical experience. “We feel very safe having concerts in that space,” Newman asserted. Every month MAHMA will present two or three of the same concerts on multiple dates so different audiences can attend.

In the meantime, the YouTube performances are available and will continue once in-person performances resume. As Hosfeld said, “It’s a clever way of being able to preserve things permanently.”

“Our YouTube platform emulates MAHMA’s grounded, welcoming, friendly, warm environment for our audiences in an intimate setting. Relax and rely on us to take you on a musical journey. Now audiences can do this around the globe from the comfort of their own homes. They don’t have to be in Malibu, but we’re still representing Malibu,” Newman commented.

Some of the posted videos include a collaboration with photographer Juan Tallo to enhance the experience. “You’ll hear the live music and see his incredible artwork,” Newman explained. “The music inspires the photography, and the photography inspires the music.”

For more information, visit malibufriendsofmusic.org 

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Photo by Juan Tallo