I found this Washington Post story through a recent post on Alex Ross’ blog The Rest is Noise. According to the Post, federal and state cutbacks prompted Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea’s organization of the Silverlake Conservatory:
Flea (born Michael Balzary) launched Silverlake in 2001, in part because of such cutbacks. He says the music program at Los Angeles’s Fairfax High School was his salvation in the late 1970s. “I was a troubled kid. I was on the street. I was doing drugs. I was breaking into people’s houses. I was bad news,” he recalled in an interview.
“Having music in school was the one thing that I really believed in. [It] gave me a focus, a structure and consistency.” He took full advantage of a menu of offerings including orchestra, jazz and marching band, choir and musical productions.
After sitting by chance beside Fairfax’s music teacher at a Knicks game in New York several years ago, the rocker decided to revisit his alma mater — and found its music program decimated by budget cuts: “Everything was gone. I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “When I went, you could pick any instrument. You want to play in an orchestra? No problem. When I went back, it was a volunteer teacher, a couple of acoustic guitars. It was this shell of this thing that was still alive while I was there.”
Flea says he put up “a few hundred thousand dollars” to open the Silverlake Conservatory with high school friend-turned-music teacher Keith Barry, who is the school’s dean.
Read the complete story here.
What a great project for Flea to be involved with!
Here’s a shot of Lyric Opera of Chicago member and Northeastern Illinois University bass teacher (and recent Contrabass Conversations guest) Greg Sarchet with Flea from last year. As you can see, Flea is keeping up his spotless track record of never wearing a shirt in public:
- Greg Sarchet interview
- L.A. – Colburn School
- Advice for aspiring music performance majors
- Franz Simandl photo from Greg
- Stupid in America – the state of public schools