Yuri Temirkanov's schedule will keep him out of town for the next six months, but his imprint as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will be much in evidence well before he's back on the podium in November. Just before his final concerts of the 2002-2003 season two weeks ago, he and an audition committee within the orchestra agreed on a choice for the important position of principal oboe.
Katherine Needleman, currently principal oboist of the Richmond (Va.) Symphony, will join the BSO in September. She succeeds longtime principal oboist Joseph Turner, who remains in the orchestra as associate principal.
"I'm very excited," says Needleman, who did two guest stints with the BSO this season, including a program led by Temirkanov last month. "It's a great orchestra and he's a great conductor, very expressive and very efficient."
Needleman grew up in Baltimore and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts before continuing her music education at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where she earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1999. She made her BSO debut as a student in 1995, performing part of a Mozart concerto.
"We're delighted that she's joining us," says BSO vice president and general manager Karen Swanson. "And it's wonderful that she came out of our past - a former member of the Baltimore community and a soloist with the orchestra."
Needleman is the latest in a series of high-profile appointments made since Termirkanov's tenure began in 2000. Previous hires - including concertmaster, principal cello and principal trumpet - have had a highly positive influence on the overall caliber and character of the ensemble's playing. The new oboist is expected to do the same.
Needleman has served as principal oboe of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and guest principal oboe with the Boston Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and San Diego Symphony. She has also performed as a substitute player with the Philadelphia Orchestra and National Symphony in Washington. Chamber-music credits include appearances at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont (and an East Coast tour with the Music from Marlboro ensemble), the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Spoleto Festival in Italy and the Pacific Music Festival in Japan.
In other BSO news, Susanna Self Huppert, principal flute of the Charlotte Symphony, has been given a one-year contract as acting assistant principal flute. And Brian M. Prechtl, a member of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Philharmonic, will join the BSO's percussion section.