Baltimore Symphony’s two #Metoo inquiries came to nothing

Baltimore Symphony’s two #Metoo inquiries came to nothing


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2018

From today’s Baltimore Sun:

The starting point of the case is one night in October 2005, when the BSO was on tour in Barcelona. Carney came to Needleman’s hotel room at 3:30 a.m. She let him in. He was interested in sex. Needleman declined. Both sides agree that nothing sexual or physical happened, and that the incident lasted no more than 10 minutes.

When Needleman first raised the matter of the hotel room visit to management in 2006 and an internal inquiry was launched, Carney denied asking for sex with Needleman, according to a recently concluded report. Carney later reversed himself.

“He admits he was lying the first time he was asked about the 2005 incident,” Needleman said. “Doesn’t that tell you something?”

Early this year, the BSO retained attorney Melissa McGuire, chair of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association, to conduct an investigation. She interviewed 19 witnesses over several months in preparing a response to Needleman’s charges.

It was after the 2005 rebuff, Needleman asserts in her filing, that the troubles for her began and have lasted for 13 years. Her filing catalogs a lewd comment made by Carney about her “pesones,” occasions when he blocked her way in stairways, and other ways the much taller violinist physically intimidated the oboist.

Carney disputes the claims….

Read on here.  (Blocked in EU)


  • boringfileclerk says:

    The firm hired to investigate the claim found no proof of wrongdoing, proving they’re sexist and she must be right!

  • Melisande says:

    A really nasty situation, but then we remember that the complainant is Katherine Needleman.

    We first remember this from her Wikipedia page:
    In 2016, Needleman released a CD of duets for oboe and piano. Upon its receiving a review that contained some criticism of Needleman’s playing,[2] Needleman was caught harassing the reviewer, an oboe specialist. She broadcast the reviewer’s private information over Facebook pages and incited friends and colleagues to send threats and abuse.[3] The influential British journalist Norman Lebrecht describes Needleman’s organisation of an ‘online hate mob’ as ‘reprehensible conduct’, saying she should ‘learn to cope with bad reviews’.[4] The founder of BIS Records, Robert von Bahr, explained that he ‘couldn’t find any trace of Needleman trying to hold back her minions/lynch mob at any stage’, and that not speaking out against about the abuse, at the time or subsequently, ‘speaks volumes’.[5]

    Then we remember that she was fired from Peabody for ‘getting into an altercation with a student’, as well as general ‘routine abuse’ towards multiple other students.

    Now we see this. What is her main allegation? After turning Carney down for sex, he ‘stopped listening to me while we were tuning’, ‘made faces during rehearsals’ and ‘occasionally blocked my way in staircases’. Really: read it for yourself.

    The BSO investigated the allegations against Carney twice, in 2006 and again this year with the help of outside law firms. Needleman’s claims were dismissed both times. Nineteen of Needleman’s colleagues were interviewed for the investigations and did not back her story. Still not content, Needleman now claims that both investigations are ‘biased’ and has taken her story to the media.

    In the reviewer incident, Needleman was caught creating fake accounts to make posts attacking the reviewer. This week, similar posts have been found giving unanimous praise to Needleman’s story, including on this website. Comparing the language of the two, the evidence quite strongly suggests they were also written by her.

    #MeToo is a huge problem: we must all condemn any abuse. Given Needleman’s past behaviour towards others, though, it is difficult to believe her story, not only because it has already been fully dismissed by two different in-depth investigations. In fact, the only abuse seen so far is the abuse committed by Needleman towards others.

    • The View from America says:

      Cr*p like this doesn’t do the very legitimate #MeToo movement any favors whatsoever.

      The best strategy is not to give those on the other side ammunition, but Ms. Needleman appears to have delivered them an entire boat load of it.

      And speaking of cr*p, exceedingly disagreeable people are like the proverbial “turd in the punchbowl” … and Ms. Needleman is certainly the poster child for that.

      One can’t help but feel empathy for the rest of the BSO musicians; instead of being able to focus on making great music, they’re caught up in this sh*t-storm of drama. Brilliant!

    • william osborne says:

      I looked up the wiki article about Needleman. It does not contain any of the above cited material. And it has not been revised since 2012.

      Orchestras are known for the intense disputes that can evolve in them. The Seattle Symphony had an spell of this a while back. There were reports of vandalism, damage to instruments, and even a razor blade planted in a mailbox. If I remember right, there was even an incident where a cup of coffee was perched in a locker so that it would spill on the owner when they opened it.

      There were a couple trombonists in the Chicago Symphony who were said not to have spoken to each other in decades. The stories of orchestra members fighting are endless.

      This Baltimore situation seems pretty hopeless, but I still think, as I mentioned in another thread, that it might be solvable through internal mediation. Success would be largely determined by the skills of the mediator, so care would need to be taken in finding one. It could save people a lot of heartache and expense, and perhaps relieve some of the disharmony in the orchestra.

      • william osborne says:

        And of course, these disputes become far worse when sex, sexual abuse, and gender discrimination are involved. All reasons why orchestra members should keep their behavior professional and unbiased.

      • william osborne says:

        Double checking, I see at the bottom of the wiki article that it was last edited two days ago. It seems the battlegrounds have spread to both wiki and Slippedisc.

        • william osborne says:

          The wiki article was updated on September 18 and listed Slippedisc as the reference source for the edits. The edits were deleted by a wiki administrator the next day because they made undue use of a primary source and that it did not substantiate the claims made.

          So who is going even to wiki to denounce Needleman? The ugliness of orchestras……….

      • Another Musician says:

        I’m sorry to burst your bubble, William, but Ms. Needleman has already participated in mediation with Mr. Carney, although in other disputes she has refused to participate. Mediation usually doesn’t prove helpful in cases where the true cause of the problem is due leadership styles and unenforced policies. In fact, if I am not misremembering, Paul Meecham was president in Seattle during the worst of their problems just as he was president in Baltimore when this saga began.

        • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

          “…has already participated in mediation with Mr. Carney, although in other disputes she has refused to participate.”

          So she has had other problems?

          • Wai kit leung says:

            Is that surprising?

            Multiple people in the oboe community have told me about her behaviour, but they were too scared and didn’t want to be identified.

  • William Ford says:

    2, 4, 6 ,8- who do we appreciate? Borderline, borderline, borderline. So goes the old psychiatric cheer.

    • Alex Davies says:

      I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. In fact, I have no idea what it means twice over! First, why would cheerleaders say, “Borderline, borderline, borderline”? Is this something to do with American sports that I don’t know about? Secondly, what does BPD have to do with it? Are you trying to suggest that Katherine Needleman has BPD? It’s hard to see what else you mean. I’d be careful what you write on here. I’m sure Norman doesn’t want Ms Needleman suing for defamatory libel.

  • Doug says:

    A man asking a woman for sex? HOLY GAIA! What is the world coming to?

  • Sue says:

    This sexual McCarthyism has a long way to play. The Left will continue looking under beds, in cupboards, in offices and orchestras until they find more culprits. They’re looking more and more like the Mary Whitehouse wowers of Britain in that era. Funny!! All their accusations about moralizing and the right turned out to have been their own projections.

    “Are you now or have you ever been…..”?

  • MacroV says:

    It astounds me that nobody seems to be willing to concede that 1) Yes, Katherine Needleman, fine oboist that she is, seems to have a reputation as a difficult person; and 2) Notwithstanding that reputation, Jonathan Carney could also be someone who hit on the young principal oboist in a hotel on tour at 3:00 am (which he acknowledged doing and which strikes me as wildly inappropriate) and, rebuffed, engaged in some measure of retaliation.

    BTW, isn’t/wasn’t Carney married? IIRC about a decade ago he turned down the Seattle CM job because he didn’t want to uproot his family.

    • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

      She let him in the room at 3:00 AM. At that hour, what did she expect; a discussion of tuning the orchestra at 442 vs 441?

      • MacroV says:

        Opening a door to a colleague who knocks on your door is not an invitation to sex. This is another version of “she asked for it.”

        • Bill says:

          I think it is neither here nor there – who’s to say that someone who would get pissed off at gently being rejected (as seems to be the case here) wouldn’t react the same way if she simply hadn’t opened the door? That the meeting took place and ended a few minutes later without any physical altercation is not in dispute by either party. She’s a tenured member of the orchestra, not playing in his section, so he has no appreciable power over her. Where’s the bright line he crossed? People who work together and go on the road together have been hooking up since time immemorial, and it isn’t always the guy who is knocking on the door. It’s not like she was a brand-new member of the violin section, still under probation, where there might well be substantial belief that one had to go along or start looking for a new job. Hard to believe that everyone who gets an unwanted pass turns around and files a complaint with HR. Someone who isn’t mad at you before you file the complaint probably will be after you do!

          But let’s step back a bit and pretend the booty call didn’t happen. If Carney had developed some other reason for disliking Needleman enough to act in the juvenile manner alleged, would there be an investigation involving an outside law firm? Doubtful.

          I think King Solomon, upon hearing this case, would probably render a verdict of “both of you, grow up!”

          I don’t know either one of these two personally. I think Needleman may be a friend of a friend, but I’m not going to verify that. Neither one comes off well here, in my eyes, and I say that as someone who is generally willing to listen sympathetically to women who allege they’ve been mistreated.

  • CGDA says:

    How many people has this oboist had problems with?

  • Malcolm Kottler says:

    Baltimore Sun article:

    ” ‘Unprofessional and distasteful’: Details of Baltimore Symphony’s sexual harassment investigation test its image”

  • Lachera says:

    At 3:30AM players should be sleeping – you want them to be fresh tomorrow for another hard day of concert touring. If a player goes knocking on doors at that time, I wonder how talented must be his playing before we have a look to availability of other players that may be as good and do not mess around. – The same way, a principal player that has time to indulge in a Facebook war with a critic is probably a player that has too much free time to spend.