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. As soloist, she has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, the Richmond Symphony, the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, the Haddonfield Symphony, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia, in addition to her frequent appearances with the Baltimore Symphony. She has performed as guest principal oboist with the New York Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New Zealand, and San Diego. Devoted to the music of our time, Ms. Needleman has premiered numerous works and has commissioned works by Luis Prado, Chia-Yu Hsu and David Ludwig, including his Pleaides which she recorded on the GENUIN label with pianist Jennifer Lim in their album, Duos for Oboe and Piano. She gave the American premiere of Ruth Gipps’ Oboe Concerto with the Richmond Symphony and Valentina Peleggi, conducted and played the American premiere of Brenno Blauth’s Concertino with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and gave the West Coast premiere of Christopher Rouse’s Oboe Concerto at the Cabrillo Festival with Marin Alsop conducting. She gave the premiere of Kevin Puts’ oboe concerto, Moonlight, at the Baltimore Symphony’s New Music Festival with Marin Alsop.
Ms. Needleman’s 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, the Newport Music Festival, and throughout Greenland with Trio La Milpa as part of the first American chamber music ensemble to appear there. A participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, she has also appeared on two tours with “Musicians from Marlboro.” In the 2019-2020 season before it was truncated by COVID-19, Ms. Needleman presented a recital for oboe and piano with pianist Hanchien Lee of music by women composers in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Tampa, New York City, Washington D.C., Oberlin, and Pittsburgh. She concurrently presented a recital of music for oboe alone in Baltimore, Northfield MN, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Iowa City, Madison WI, Eau Claire WI, and Greensboro VT. A third recital project that involved suppressed music of “degenerate” composers started and ended in March, 2020. In late March, 2020, she began her Lockdown Oboe Solo Concerts during COVID-19 quarantine which covered Telemann’s Twelve Fantasias and a broad survey of repertoire for oboe solo from the past 100 years. She broadcast eleven weekly performances including numerous premieres to an audience of 75,000 and growing from her living room, except for one performance which began on a raft in floating on a cold lake near the Canadian border and ended with her swimming into shore. Ms. Needleman co-founded and curates Coffee, Patisserie, and Classical Music, a morning classical music series at An Die Musik, one of Baltimore’s most intimate venues.
A lifelong improviser, she has recorded the Marmalade Balloon, an album of improvised, ambient chamber music with distinguished classical music colleagues as well as synthesizers from the 1960s and 1970s. She started writing music down on paper during the COVID-19 pandemic and won the International Double Reed Society’s Inaugural Commissioning Competition with her sonata for oboe and piano. They commissioned her to write a work for English horn and piano which received its premiere in July, 2021, with Alison Teale of the BBC Symphony. A Baltimore native, Ms. Needleman attended high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts but left early to attend the Curtis Institute of Music. She served on the faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University for fifteen years and is currently on faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music.