Malibu Coast Music Festival returns to in-person concerts

Martha, left, and Isabella Thatcher will perform with their mother, composer/violinst Maria Newman, in the upcoming Malibu Coast Music Festival. Photo by Juan Tallo.

If Malibu had its own Hollywood Bowl, it would be the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture (MAHMA), nestled in the foothills overlooking Zuma Beach. The artists in residence are excited about performing in public once again after a two-year pandemic hiatus. The venue is welcoming guests in person for the upcoming Malibu Coast Music Festival 2022.

“We’re so delighted to be back amongst friends in person,” said composer/violinist Maria Newman. “We’re bringing in the most wonderful guest artists from all across the United States and some European artists.” 

The festival opens Aug. 19 and runs for various dates through Sept. 4. Later in the fall MAHMA will start its seasonal concert series.

Newman and her fellow musicians will be performing a wide variety of music, including classical, tango, jazz, South American, and premiering some of her own new works. 

The first week of the festival features time-honored classics from Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Debussy, and classics in the making. 

“Wonderful gems of the standard classical repertoire we think our audiences will be excited to experience here live and in person with us,” Newman explained. 

The music of Newman’s father, legendary composer Alfred Newman, will also be on the program. “A staple of ours,” the composer in residence said. Alfred was a nine-time Academy Award-winning composer/conductor. Maria’s two uncles, two brothers and first cousin Randy Newman have scored hundreds of films among them. They are the most celebrated musical family in Hollywood history with a collective 95 nominations from the Motion Picture Academy, Emmys and Grammys, including many trophies. Alfred Newman is also celebrated for writing the iconic 20th Century Fox fanfare that evokes Hollywood movie premieres complete with searchlights to illuminate the skies. 

In the family tradition, Maria Newman has composed more than 150 works. Her daughters, vocal artists Martha and Isabella Thatcher, will join their family, including Newman’s husband, conductor/violist Scott Hosfeld. Hosfeld also serves as president of the nonprofit Malibu Friends of Music, the presenting organization of MAHMA. 

The conductor and his family of musicians started a YouTube channel “Montgomery Arts House Presents…” to bring music to audiences around the globe when the pandemic could not bring audiences to them. The family couldn’t be more pleased to be performing before an audience again. 

“You’re able to share a breath and energy with them,” said Martha Thatcher. “Coming back to in-person performances, we’re going to bring all the things we’ve learned from our streaming series and add that little bit of extra spice to our performances.” 

“Having an audience breathes new life into each piece, so it feels brand new every time,” added Isabella Thatcher, who will sing as well.

All of the concerts will be held outdoors in the stunning venue’s garden space with a limited number of tickets sold. “We want to keep these concerts as special and as intimate as we can,” said Newman. 

The festival concerts will not be filmed for the YouTube channel, however, while the festival is going on, “we artists will gather in our indoor environment to record live some of the pieces offered” in the festival. Those performances will eventually be posted “bit by bit” after the festival is completed.

Hearing live music under umbrellas and stars in the stunning MAHMA in the Gardens venue is a treat. 

“What’s exciting about our indoor/outdoor festival space is that it was specifically constructed for the performance of classical music by our incredible architect Eric Lloyd Wright (grandson of the “Father of American Architecture,” Frank Lloyd Wright),” Martha Thatcher explained. “It works like a miniature band shell. It acoustically sends the sound out into our garden so it’s a very rich sound.” 

While the Malibu weather should be perfect during late August into September it can get a bit chilly at night “especially with the sea breeze because we’re so close to the ocean, but nothing a jacket won’t fix,” Martha Thatcher added. 

As the Newman family dynasty adds another generation of artists, Maria Newman commented on collaborating with her immediate family.

“To work with my daughters and my husband together, the four of us created this ensemble during the COVID isolation period,” she said. “We call it ‘Voices and Violas Chamber Music Ensemble.’ We’ll be playing some pieces as hosts of the festival. To be playing with these women (her daughters) is one of the most joyous experiences of my life and I speak for Scott as well.”

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