Katherine Needleman joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as principal oboist in 2003, the same year she won first prize at the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet-Fox Competition. Since then, Needleman has been described as the “BSO’s sterling principal oboist” and a “boon for the orchestra.” The Washington Post has cited her “deliciously plaintive tone,” the Baltimore Sun notes her “startling agility, endless breaths…and prism of sonic colors” and her “unequalled dose of sentiment” was praised in Barcelona’s La Vanguardia.
She has appeared with the BSO as soloist in works of Bach, Beethoven, Lukas Foss, Martinu, Mozart, Strauss, Vaughan Williams, and Vivaldi. Needleman has also been soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, the Haddonfield Symphony, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia. She has performed as guest principal oboist with the New York Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Atlanta, San Diego and New Zealand. Prior to her appointment in Baltimore, she was principal oboist of the Richmond Symphony and before that, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
Needleman is a founding member of the oboe trio Trio La Milpa, the first American chamber ensemble to perform in Greenland; the woodwind quintet Astral Winds; and Mico Nonet, an improvisational ambient chamber music ensemble involving colleagues from the Berlin Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Richmond Symphony and 1970’s synthesizers. Needleman’s other chamber music engagements have taken her to Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall and the Metropolitan Museum in New York; Jordan Hall and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston as well as the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C. She has appeared at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, Italy’s Spoleto Festival, the Alpenglow Festival and the Newport Music Festival. A frequent participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, she has also appeared on two tours with “Musicians from Marlboro.”
Devoted to the music of our time, Needleman has premiered numerous works and has commissioned works by Luis Prado, Chia-Yu Hsu and David Ludwig. She holds the distinction of having given the American premiere of Brenno Blauth’s Concertino.
Astral Artistic Services, a Philadelphia non-profit organization, has provided Needleman with invaluable career assistance, including the presentation of a recital where the Philadelphia Inquirerclaimed she “defied at the million different turns her instrument’s reputation as a bear…she is as nimble and virtuosic as they come, and her tone fools you into thinking that a sweet oboe sound is an easily found commodity.”
A Baltimore native, Needleman attended high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts but left early to attend the Curtis Institute of Music, where she received a bachelor of music degree as a student of Richard Woodhams. She is a member of the faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University and the Young Artist Summer Program at the Curtis Institute. She has previously appeared on the faculty at the Aspen Music Festival .
Her recording with pianist Jennifer Lim on the GENUIN label will be released in January, 2016.