The Maestro Foundation was established in 1984 by three music-loving businessmen: V. Shannon Clyne, Qamar Lodhie and Aaron Mendelsohn. They came together to help one promising young musician in pursuit of his career. Leonard Altman, The Maestro Foundation’s first Artistic Director soon joined the effort. He was pivotal in launching the organization and concert series on its successful trajectory. Since then, Maestro’s mission has expanded steadily to help many young musicians in need of support.
In 1989, Chairman Aaron Mendelsohn began presenting concerts in his residence designed specifically for chamber music. With the goal of raising funds to support gifted musicians, the Maestro Chamber Music Society has since evolved into one of the pre-eminent series of its kind. Many of these private concerts have been broadcast on Classical K-USC and National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” heard on more than 100 stations nationwide.
The Maestro Foundation has established distinct programs, awarded scholarships, and provided assistance for local music programs in support of classical musicians. In 2000, the Instrument Lending Program began acquiring professional quality bows and instruments to help young musicians pursue their career goals. The Instrument Endowment Fund was created to facilitate these acquisitions.
In 2003, music teachers Peter Park and John Redfield started an elementary string orchestra in the Santa Monica-Malibu public school district funded by Maestro. The Elemental Strings Program was created to encourage students to continue their studies in music through middle school, high school and beyond. By 2010, Elemental Strings experienced significant growth, became a proud partner of the school district, and acquired its own non-profit 501(c)(3) status. Now under the careful guidance of Dr. Josephine Liu Moerschel, Executive and Artistic Director, programming has expanded from the original elementary string orchestra program to include a middle school full orchestra program, band, choir, and guitar ensembles. This diversification led to a name change in 2016. Elemental Music has served over 1,000 students since its inception and continues to be a treasured and vital part of the community.
In 2004, the Maestro Foundation launched the Maestro Chamber Music Academy (MCMA), a program providing unique chamber music mentoring to promising young musicians. Musical traditions passed from one generation to the next as participants studied and performed chamber music alongside prominent professionals. MCMA mentors included violinists Arnold Steinhardt and Ani Kavafian, pianists Ralf Gothóni and Ricardo Castro, the Ysaÿe Quartet and many others.
For over 31 years, the Maestro Foundation has dedicated its resources to nurturing young musicians and audiences. We pride ourselves on the achievements and efficiency of programming and the effective use of funds. This is the result of a passionate Board of Directors, dedicated staff and the relentless pursuit of excellence.