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Juno-nominated pianist investigated by VSO for hosting conspiracist party

Last Updated Feb 22, 2021 at 7:56 pm PST

Summary

Juno Award nominated jazz musician John Stetch has been barred from the VSO School of Music while it investigates

A YouTube livestream from Saturday shows more than a dozen people gathered in a West End apartment

Vancouver police say they're investigating an "allegations of an unlawful gathering"

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s School of Music says it has barred an instructor from its facilities while it investigates him for potentially violating COVID-19 restrictions.

The school says it takes the allegation against jazz pianist John Stetch, a seven-time Juno Award nominee, “very seriously” after video emerged appearing to show him hosting an illegal gathering this past weekend.

The School of Music advertises online and in-person lessons from Stetch, a decorated musician who “pushes the edges of his jazz and classical training to fuse melodies from all around the world.”

The school’s website says it has implemented “exhaustive” measures to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus at its downtown offices.

But Stetch’s apparent flouting of public health orders raises questions about whether students were put at risk.

VSO School of Music advertises online and in-person lessons with jazz pianist John Stetch.

Flat Earthers gather maskless in Vancouver apartment

Stetch appears to have hosted more than a dozen people at a West End apartment Saturday evening.

In an 87-minute YouTube livestream posted Saturday to the Flat Earth Focker channel, roughly 14 people are visible sitting maskless in close quarters, with some drinking alcohol and eating vegan chili. The video as since been made private, but NEWS 1130 viewed it on YouTube and obtained a copy.

The stream was filmed by Mak Parhar, a prominent conspiracy theorist who lost a business licence for his Delta yoga studio last March after he spread false claims about the virus. In November, Parhar was arrested for allegedly breaking the Quarantine Act when he refused to self isolate after returning to Canada from a flat earth conference in the U.S.

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Parhar and Stetch both appear to be part of the Flat Earth community, which believes our planet is flat but a conspiracy has spread the idea that it is a globe.

Early in the video, Parhar says he won’t identify the gathering’s host, “so they don’t get in trouble,” but moments later he appears to do just that.

Parhar asks Stetch to show his “flat earth map” hanging on the wall. The map Stetch shows matches a picture of a poster Stetch shared to the Flat Earth Vancouver Facebook group in November.

Stetch also shows Parhar a framed photo of his band, John Stetch and Vulneraville.

Conspiracy theorist Mak Parhar filmed a 87-minute YouTube livestream Saturday evening.

Conspiracists laugh about killing B.C.’s health officer

Later in the video, Parhar asks Stetch if he has anything to say to B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Yeah, she can go [beep] herself,” Stetch says, making a beeping sound to censor himself.

About an hour into the video, a guest jokingly suggests a fellow flat earther supports Adolf Hitler.

“Hitler was a good guy, maybe,” Parhar responds.

“Of course he was,” another guest, identified as “Chris,” says.

Parhar then asks “Chris” what he has to say to Henry.

“She needs to be hanging from the nooses,” he responds.

“Yes!” Parhar says, laughing.

“You might get in trouble for that, the way they’re going right now,” Stetch says while playing the piano nearby.

Parhar responds: “She can suck it, anyways. Some lead between the eyes would be good for her. I’m just saying it’s a good idea.”

Police investigating ‘unlawful gathering’ in West End

When Parhar steps out onto the condo’s patio, St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver’s West End is visible nearby.

The Vancouver Police Department is “investigating allegations of an unlawful gathering in a building near St. Paul’s hospital,” Sgt. Steve Addison told NEWS 1130. He said the gathering in question happened on Saturday, but provided no additional details.

In an email, Stetch did not deny that he had hosted the gathering. He accused CityNews and NEWS 1130 of slander and threatened to sue.

“I wish to no longer be contacted by any reporter or agent from any news organization,” he said.

John Stetch has shared conspiracy theory content on Facebook.

On Facebook, Stetch has shown support for the “Flat Earth” conspiracy theory.

He has also spread false claims about the coronavirus pandemic.

“The false positive tests are through the roof and people are starting to wake up to Bill’s microsoft prick,” he said in November, in seeming to reference Bill Gates, a common target of conspiracists.

When reached Monday, Parhar said he would get back to CityNews, but had not responded by deadline.