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Concert on the Bluffs to embody, celebrate American spirit

New York City Ballet’s Indiana Woodward, who grew up in Malibu, will return for this year’s Concert on the Bluffs on Aug. 20. 22nd Century Media File Photos
Malibu’s Maria Newman performs a violin solo during last year’s Concert on the Bluffs.
Lauren Coughlin, Editor
9:04 am PDT August 17, 2017

The Cultural Arts Commission’s second annual Concert on the Bluffs is sure to be a grand affair.

With less than a week to go until showtime on Sunday, Aug. 20, the Surfside caught up with Artistic Director Catherine Malcolm Brickman, who shared a peek behind the scenes.

Malcolm Brickman said the overall theme of this year’s concert is to “celebrate the American melting pot.” The centerpiece of that celebration is the performance of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which Malcolm Brickman said is “probably the most well-known piece of American classical music ever written [and] certainly the most popular.”

“That really celebrates the great cultural diversity that exists in this country,” Malcolm Brickman said.

And while the song can be appreciated by anyone, anywhere, it gains significance with the realization that Gershwin had ties to a Malibu prodigy. Malcolm Brickman explained that renowned American film music conductor Alfred Newman, who eventually lived in Malibu, was a childhood friend to Gershwin. Gershwin is said to be the one who convinced Newman to move from New York to the LA area, where Newman would find great success.

Newman arranged and conducted pieces by Gershwin, among others.

The musicians will also perform Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango.” Piazzolla, Malcolm Brickman said, was a fan of Gershwin and was reportedly inspired by “Rhapsody in Blue” in particular.

“Everything in the concert, all of the pieces, are connected, whether it’s historical [or] thematic,” Malcolm Brickman said.

Today, the late Newman’s legacy lives on in part through his daughter, Maria Newman, who is a Malibu resident and artistic director at Malibu’s Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture, as well as an award-winning composer, violinist, violist, pianist, conductor and teacher. She is one of the many talented musicians who will take the stage at Concert on the Bluffs. 

Malcolm Brickman said Maria Newman will play a violin solo of a piece composed by her father. 

“That’s kind of special,” Malcolm Brickman said. “I can’t imagine anyone playing that piece as well and with as much heart as she will.”

The creative talent will be rounded out by New York City Ballet soloists Indiana Woodward, who was raised in Malibu, Emilie Gerrity and Joseph Gordon, as well as NYC Ballet corps de ballet members Ashley Hod and Preston Chamblee.

The show begins at 5 p.m., but the gates will open at 3 p.m. The event coordinators recommend early arrival. 

Parking will be available offsite at Pepperdine University (24255 PCH, roughly 500 spaces) and HRL Laboratories (3011 Malibu Canyon Road, about 130 spaces). There will be shuttles from each location. 

At Bluffs Park, only handicapped parking will be available. 

Tickets, which are expected to be available at the gate, are $35 for adults, $15 for seniors (62 and up) and students (6 and up), and free for children under the age of 5. Tickets may also be purchased ahead of time online (, at the Bluffs Park Community Center or in the Malibu City Hall.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or chair and pack a picnic. 

Food trucks from D’Amores, Cousins Maine Lobster, Acai Dream Bowl, Farm & Flame, and Palazzolo will also be on the premises. 

“It really takes a village to create this concert because it’s actually a very, very expensive endeavor,” Malcolm Brickman said.

To that end, the Malibu Cultural Arts Commission has more than a couple dozen sponsors to thank, including The Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, Malibu Village, Malibu Lumber Yard, Malibu Country Mart, Vintage Grocers, Caffe Luxxe, KBUU 97.5 Radio Malibu, Sidewinder Films, 27 Mile Films and the Malibu Surfside News.

The proceeds made at the event will go toward the City’s arts and education and public arts programming. 

Last year’s event raised $16,000, Malcolm Brickman said, which allowed the creation of the Malibu Poet Laureate program and funding of the visiting artists program, among other programs.

This year, the commission aims to donate more than $20,000 to the City’s arts fund. 

“What’s nice about this concert is it really bring our community together,” Malcolm Brickman said. “It’s very rare to have musicians of this caliber ... play in our local park, and certainly to have New York City [Ballet] dancers and dancers of this caliber dance in our local park is very unusual.”

Concert on the Bluffs details

What: New York City Ballet dancers and the Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra, as well as several soloists, will perform at the Malibu Cultural Arts Commission’s second annual Concert on the Bluffs.

When: 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20

Where: Malibu Bluffs Park, 24250 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu (parking at Pepperdine and HRL Laboratories)

The performers

Ricardo Means Ybarra:  Malibu Poet Laureate

Indiana Woodward: New York City Ballet soloist

Emilie Gerrity: NYC Ballet soloist

Joseph Gordon: NYC Ballet soloist

Ashley Hod:  NYC Ballet Corps de Ballet member

Preston Chamblee: NYC Ballet Corps de Ballet member

Malibu Coast Chamber Orchestra (including players from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Opera and Hollywood Bowl orchestras) 

Maria Newman: Violin soloist

Alap Kaplan: Trombone soloist

Nicholas Goluses: Guitar soloist

Mariano Dugatkin: Bandoneon soloist

The event coordinators

Catherine Malcolm Brickman: Artistic Director

Suzanne Keith Zimmer: Executive Producer

Scott Hosfeld: Musical Director/Conductor

Amanda Kofsky: Producer/Choreographer

Tom Sorce: Audio Designer

Rob Kerwath: Production Manager

Natalie Rubenstein: Associate Producer

Liliana Casabal: Costume Designer

Melissa Barak: Choreographer

Tim Foster: Wardrobe (NYC Ballet)