Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Clearing the decks in the Christopher O'Riley matter, mostly

By Barry Johnson

We've exchanged several emails with Christopher O'Riley's press agent, and we can now clarify a few things about our most recent post.

1. O'Riley says he did not leave the comment on Arts Dispatch attributed to him. (Which we've indicated in the post.)

2. He says that he has no plans to perform in Detroit at this point.

3. His policy on crossing musicians' picket lines is as follows: "Picket lines are grounded in the issues prompting them. I would need to be conversant with the issues at hand in order to make any kind of decision or position about the protest therein."

When I asked whether or not that meant he would cross the picket line of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians, his agent said that O'Riley would need more information. ("It would appear evident that he does not feel he has sufficient information on this matter or he would have commented thereon," he wrote.)

In which case, my remaining question is, if O'Riley doesn't have enough information to make a judgment about crossing the musicians' picket line, why did he think that he had enough information to characterize their position (incorrectly) way back at the start of all this? A similar circumspection would have served him well.

Nonetheless, we wish:

1. That we'd checked to make sure O'Riley left the original comment in the first place. It didn't take THAT much sleuthing to connect to his press agent. So, we were wrong, and we apologize.

2. That a wily internet troll hadn't decided to make life difficult! Bad, internet troll, bad!

At this point, of course, O'Riley hasn't ruled out playing in Detroit under the auspices of the DSO nor crossing the musicians picket line. So, I'm not going to quite say, "Case closed," on this one. O'Riley is now inextricably bound to Arts Dispatch in this matter.  It would be very interesting if the factual claims of the internet troll turned out to be true.

Finally, we would take down the previous post altogether except that we think it makes two good points: 1) symphony orchestras and other classical music groups around the country have attempted to adapt to their current circumstances, though we may urge them to do more; and 2) for a musician to cross a musicians' union picket line is serious business.  And for now, we'll leave it at that.