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Bruno Mars, Rufus Wainwright Perform for Silverlake Conservatory of Music Benefit

Bruno Mars Silverlake Conservatory of Music
Gary Leonard

Guests and benefactors of the Silverlake Conservatory of Music packed the backyard of Ron Burkle’s palatial BevHills estate Nov. 1 for a private dinner and art auction hosted by Red Hot Chili Peppers bandmates Flea and Anthony Kiedis. Now in its 13th year, the conservatory hopes to move into a larger space that will accommodate double enrollment, which currently stands at 700 students, 200 of whom attend for free.

“I started the school 13 years ago because I wanted to fill a cultural hole in the community that the public school system was unable to fill because of lack of funding. Kids deserve to have an arts education. I believe in it with all my heart and as it grows it become deeper and more beautiful,” Flea said.

Top-notch contemporary art was nestled into a large white tent laden with chandeliers adjacent to the home. With pieces from heavy hitters like William Eggleston, Ed Ruscha, Raymond Pettibon, Shepard Fairey, Richard Prince and Inez and Vinoodh, there was enough for guests to start their collection or fill in the gaps of a burgeoning home gallery. The standout piece was a spin painting from YBA artist Damien Hirst with a starting bid at $425,000.

After guests including Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and musician/producer Danger Mouse settled in for a $2,500-per-head dinner of homestyle ribs and halibut, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the crowd, telling patrons that he recently moved his piano from his home to his office at City Hall.

“This is a city where creativity lives. It is a great city but sometimes you have to find a way to get away from it and for me I sit down and play the piano,” he said.

Addressing the lack of arts education in Los Angeles public schools, the mayor showed his support for the conservatory and increasing music education at LAUSD.

“Music helps your soul, it helps your brain develop and it makes you a better problem solver,” Garcetti said. “Music should not be defined by the zip code you are born in. We have the next Neil Young walking our streets and we need to make sure she knows how to read music.”

Afterwards Rufus Wainwright stepped up to a grand piano under the yard’s mood-lit trees to play Shakespearean sonnets he’d set to music and a few of his hit songs including “Hallelujah.”

“I actually dropped out of music school. But I think it’s important to have a music school to drop out of,” Wainwright jokingly told the crowd.

Next guests turned to a large stage at the back of the yard and reset themselves for a more energetic set from singer Bruno Mars and his band after the peaceful crooning of Wainwright.

Guests packed into the front of the stage for a private performance from the Super Bowl headlining performer, who rolled through a impressive litany of covers ranging from Jamaican Dub song “Pass the Dutchie” to old school R&B hit “This Is How We Do It.”

Mars gave the crowd his signature sound at the end of his set with songs “Just the Way You Are” and “Locked Out of Heaven,” at which point Flea could be seen standing on a chair to get a better look over the crowd and fist pumping along to the music.

This is how we do it indeed.