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. She has appeared with the BSO as soloist in works of Bach, Beethoven, Lukas Foss, Martinu, Mozart, Puts, Rouse, Strauss, Vaughan Williams, and Vivaldi. Mx. Needleman has also been soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Symphony in C, Symphony of Westchester, Richmond Symphony, 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, Chicago, San Diego and New Zealand.
Mx. Needleman has premiered numerous numerous works by composers such as Che Buford, Viet Cuong, Ben Hausmann, Dani Howard, Chiayu Hsu, David Ludwig, Alyssa Morris, Alejandra Odgers, Luis Prado, Kevin Puts, and Laura Elise Schwendinger. She conducted and soloed in the American premiere of Brenno Blauth’s Concertino. She recorded Christopher Rouse’s Oboe Concerto with the Albany Symphony and David Alan Miller (release TBA), and gave the West Coast Premiere of the work with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival. Her recording of Kevin Puts’ second oboe concerto, Moonlight, with the Baltimore Symphony and Marin Alsop was released by Naxos in February, 2023. Mx. Needleman gave the American premiere and second through fourth performances ever of Ruth Gipps’ Oboe Concerto with the Richmond Symphony and Valentina Peleggi 80 years after its London premiere.
A lifelong improviser and arranger, Mx. Needleman returned to composing during the COVID-19 lockdown. Her works have been published by Presser, and she has received commissions from the International Double Reed Society and Schubert Club. Mx. Needleman’s other lockdown activities included 11 live-streamed weekly recitals of oboe solo literature from her living room, including multiple world premieres to an audience of 80,000 and growing.
Mx. Needleman has recorded with Mico Nonet, an improvisational ambient chamber music ensemble involving colleagues from the Berlin Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Richmond Symphony and 1970’s synthesizers. Her 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 participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, she has also appeared on two tours with “Musicians from Marlboro.”
A Baltimore native, Mx. Needleman attended high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts but left early to attend the Curtis Institute of Music, where she is now a member of the oboe faculty. She has released a solo album with pianist Jennifer Lim on the GENUIN label.