In February 2020, Malibu Friends of Music—a nonprofit arts organization run by longtime residents Maria Newman and Scott Hosfeld—was just wrapping up the Valentine’s Day concert series “Champagne and Chocolate.” Little did they know at the time, the concert was to be the last in-person soiree for the nonprofit before social distancing began in March.
Since 2002, Newman and Hosfeld have hosted monthly gatherings featuring live classical music by local performers and artists from around the world at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture (MAHMA), a private residence and concert space in Zuma Canyon. Their work spreading “friendship, music and conversation” through their donation-based classic concerts earned them Malibu Dolphin Awards in 2008.
By mid-March 2020, with the virus threat looming, Maria and Scott’s five children, ages 23-12, were all under one roof again, meaning MAHMA’s “in-house” musicians were available to keep the concert series going through their own musical arrangements.
“My husband’s a musician, I’m a musician, our two older daughters who are glorious musicians happened to be here, and we’re all in this pod because of COVID,” Newman explained. “We had this availability to us to be able to make these live airings during COVID.” So Newman, Hosfeld and their children put together a March concert and streamed it online using their cell phones.
“We didn’t have any guest artists during that time, we just had our resident artists—tongue and cheek, but we do happen to live here,” Newman laughed. “We did it low tech, on our phones, but we had a wonderful response.” Since then, the MAHMA concerts have continued to stream every month throughout the past year, and now include artwork, photography and collaborations with musicians who share their work from across the globe.
“We thought, how interesting would it be for people who came to MAHMA over the years, our guest artists, who might live in Rochester, NY, or Bloomington, Ind., or Oslo—anywhere—if they were able to provide us with a live performance … we could steam it here,” Newman described.
Now, in addition to their “in-house” musicians, guest artists are featured each month, along with a variety of visual art including paintings by local artist Carla Marlenée Bates and photographer Juan Tallo.
Now that the world is looking forward to the end of social distancing, Newman said the virtual concert series may be here to stay—coupled with the intimate concerts of years past. It may even be a source of healing after all of the suffering in the past 12 months.
“This is the kind of thing that music can help—music and friendship, music and conversation, having a difference of opinion and discussing it,” Newman said.
“I think it’s something we’d like to continue even after we go back to in-person concerts, as an additional program from Montgomery Arts House, because even though we’ll have the great gift of being together in person—when people are vaccinated and want to be together again in person—we’ll still have a way to reach people all over the world, and that’s something we never thought we’d do,” she continued, adding, “It’s a huge honor to be part of the community here in Malibu, and it’s an honor to bring our community to the world with these live streams, and make people aware music is happening, music is alive, there is a place to go.”
The next concert in the series, “Concerts Dressed in Vibrant Green,” is available to stream live online on March 16 and 17 at youtube.com/user/scotthosfeld and on Facebook at facebook.com/Maria-Newman-45557018863. Past concerts can also be found at those locations online.