Concertmaster’s lawyer dismisses oboist’s complaint as nonsense

Concertmaster’s lawyer dismisses oboist’s complaint as nonsense


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2018

A lawyer for the Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Jonathan Carney has called a harassment charge by principal oboe Katherine Needleman ‘nonsense’.

Neil Ruther told CBS that Carney asked Needleman for a relationship in 2005. He showed up at her hotel room and left after approximately five minutes, bearing no malice.



Carney’s lawyer says Needleman is trying to harm his client. Her complaint has gone to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Needleman has published her version of events on social media:

Today, I finally named my harasser publicly. It is the scariest thing I have ever done.

When I was appointed Principal Oboist of the Baltimore Symphony, it was a dream come true. It is a rare opportunity to get a job playing first oboe in a world-class orchestra, much less in one’s own hometown. My first couple of years were blissful. The past 13 have been anything but, as I have endured constant hostility from the orchestra’s leader and highest-ranking player, concertmaster Jonathan Carney, as retaliation for declining to have sex with him in 2005 and reporting him to management. As described in my Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, Mr. Carney came to my hotel room during an international tour in 2005 and asked to “complete our onstage relationship” by entering into a “sexual relationship.” This was a matter that I found appalling and offensive. Mr. Carney was married to his first wife with three children at the time. Once I rebuffed Mr. Carney, he began treating me very differently, disparaging and embarrassing me in front of my colleagues. I quickly brought to this BSO management’s attention, but the HR director at the time concluded that Mr. Carney had no reason to lie when he denied asking me for sex and making other lewd comments. BSO’s more recent investigations revealed that Mr. Carney lied in the first investigation, but imposed no consequences. Indeed, BSO even suggested I engage in mediation with Mr. Carney. Emboldened by the courage of so many others, and after years of frustrated attempts to have my complaints taken seriously, I have now filed a complaint with the EEOC. Only after retaining counsel this year did the BSO decide to reinvestigate my complaint, but despite corroborating much of what I reported, BSO has responded only by issuing a sexual harassment policy for musicians for the first time in late April 2018 and essentially admonishing Mr. Carney to behave better in the future.

I am privileged because I am a principal player with tenure and can speak out, as difficult as it is. I am afforded certain protections others are not. Sadly, as discussed in my EEOC charge, I believe there are other women I have worked with who have been put in the impossible position of being forced to decide whether to decline Mr. Carney’s advances or acquiesce. Declining means, if you are lucky like I am, daily hostility and efforts to undermine your work and authority, combined with physical intimidation and threats. Acquiescing can mean the difference between getting freelance work or not, getting a temporary move up or not, and getting a much-anticipated promotion or not. Acquiescing also is a tacit agreement never to tell what happened for women who value their families and careers.

I seek nothing from my charge besides the restoration of a safe and professional working environment and a new level of respect and accountability from the management and board of the BSO, an organization that relies upon the generosity of public and private support in order to exist.

It is my hope that the BSO takes note of how other orchestras are handling this pervasive problem in our industry, as it is an organization I have loved and admired since I was a small child, and one which I hope to contribute to artistically and professionally for many years to come.

Katherine Needleman
Principal Oboist
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
September 17, 2018


  • Papagena says:

    I understand where she is coming from and I know exactly the type of behavior she is objecting to. But it is extraordinarily difficult to prove and to quantify. It usually ends up looking trivial when you try to identify it. That’s what’s happening here.

    Many of us just learn to work around it to keep the peace. We shouldn’t have to, and it can be difficult to do one’s job, esp. as a Principal player, but we’ve had to. Anything which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

    I always think of Ginger Rogers’ comment: “We do everything the men do but backwards and in high heels.”

  • ThisIsBS says:

    She’s dug in like a tick, just like all the other incidents with people she doesn’t like. Her claim of not wanting more is bs lip service; she wants to destroy people she hates and will go after money next. The CD review incident, the Peabody student and even her own suspension are perfect examples of how she digs in. Good luck, everyone! Expect more drama from Baltimore before she lets go.

    (Great job destroying all that great tour press too #Aplus)

    • John Nauman says:

      This woman is a total nut job. Jon is one of the finest human beings I know. We were at Juilliard together and I play with him on a regular basis. This is a terrible smear, nothing in her accusations rings true.

      • Goldie says:

        Ah, but how well do you know Jon outside of musical circles? There’s the rub.
        Definitely more to this than any of us can possibly know.

    • Wai kit leung says:

      Dug in she was, no kidding. Getting the reviewer (me) dismissed was not enough for her. She needed to utterly destroy my reputation and kept up the attack, both on and behind the scene. No wonder so many others are frightened and have yet found the courage to speak up.

    • The View from America says:

      Sh*t 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 boatload of it.

      Glad I don’t know her, even though she seems like SUCH a pleasant person — lol

      • Wai kit leung says:

        FYI I was never for or against metoo. But I learned a lot about Katherine Needleman from the way she lynched me and had wanted to forewarn others, sadly no one was interested in listening.

  • Clarice says:

    When Carney knocked on her door at 3:30am, he wasn’t asking for a ‘relationship’! He was demanding SEX! Harassment is harassment is harassment! Stop belittling this woman’s experience!

    Has the Baltimore Symphony invested in full-time, permanent HR professionals who supports BOTH musicians and staff? I’m not referring to the position of Orchestra Manager and Asst. Mgr. The BSO needs professionals whose SOLE role is to provide support and education to ALL musicians and ALL staff. ALL=part-time tenure, full-time, contractual, management, support staff, concert crew, Board, etc… HR needs to be in-house, full-time. This position should NOT be part-time nor dual-role. The #MeToo movement is just one form of harassment getting attention now. The BSO should take notice and invest in a quality, full-time HR department.

    • Judy says:

      The BSO had both a human resource professional and an outside law firm investigate. Both exonerated Jon.

      • Clarice says:

        The report stated Mr. Carney’s behavior was inappropriate, but not illegal. He wanted sex, she said, “no”. SHE SAID NO!

        Why would Carney even think it was appropriate to go knock on a co-worker’s door at 3am and proposition her?

        As for the HR, I beg to differ. It was stated that BSO musicians recently sensitivity training. Recently. That doesn’t sound like BSO management or Board has its act together.

    • Wai kit leung says:

      I think the BSO needs an additional full-time HR department to handle the workload generated by Katherine Needleman.

      • The View from America says:

        She’s seems like a real piece of work. Ironically, her actions are setting the #metoo movement back.

        I wonder what the rest of the Baltimore Symphony musicians are thinking right about now? And Marin Alsop, too?

        Exceedingly disagreeable people: they’re the proverbial “turd in the punchbowl.” And no one wants anything of that.

        • Wai Kit Leung says:

          I can’t even imagine what the BSO musicians are thinking right now. Can the BSO fold as a result of this? All the legal proceedings are going to cost money, and I can’t imagine the donation level to skyrocket as a result of this publicity.

        • Karl says:

          #metoo deserves a setback. It’s nothing but sexual McCarthyism.

    • Anon Staffer says:

      No, the BSO does not have professional HR staff. Accountants handle admin HR, orchestra personnel director handles the musicians. If something comes up that they’re not trained to deal with you can request to bring in a rep from an outside HR firm, but for staff at least it’s not encouraged at all. If you ask to speak with the outside firm no matter what the complaint is, you might hear about how much it will cost the company and whether it’s really necessary to have an HR professional’s input. The culture that’s been created is to grin and bear it and leave when you can.

      Whether or not Ms. Needleman is telling the truth about what happened and the hostile work environment, the BSO really dug their own grave by cutting one too many corners. It was just a matter of time before someone took advantage of all the deficiencies and loopholes.

      • Clarice says:

        This is what I’ve understood, as well. I’ve also heard that various types of harassment (race, age, sexual, violence) occur within the staff and there is no accountability. Staff has no one to turn to, so they just leave. Those who stay, are either the perpetrators, their enablers, or those hoping to add the prestige of the adding the BSO to their resume. Cutting corners may not be the way to go.

    • Another Musician says:

      Clarice, we do not know each other’s room numbers when we travel on tours. These are confidential. Katherine would have had to have given her room number to Jonathan. Which indicates to me that she wanted him to visit her in her room.

      • Clarice says:

        Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The man is the concertmaster. All he needed to do was ask someone for her room number.

        I believe her.

        The world was completely shocked when we learned about these guys: Mark Halperin, Woody Allen, Charlie Rose, Louis CK, Weinstein brothers, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, etc…and the list goes on and on…

        • Wai Kit Leung says:

          In the comment section of the oboe mob article, a certain “John Laraby” used the same phrase “I believe her” while he was in no position to know whether Katherine Needleman was telling the truth. A background check I conducted revealed that that person didn’t exist.

          That person also sent a letter to the Len Mullenger, owner of MusicWeb, with fake and incriminating information that led to MusicWeb cutting all ties with me.

          Drama queen, if we tally up all your posts posted under different “personas”, you are by far dominating this comment section. Your writing style is as monotonic as your playing, and it gets boring very quickly.

      • MyStringsVibrate says:

        Oh Emily really, this is incredibly low, even for you! On tours in my orchestra, where room numbers are also not given out, it is easy to know someone’s room number. Following them is one way, asking their roommate is another, and there are more. There is absolutely no way you can know and present as fact what you have written here.

      • Anon58 says:

        This is low. As principal flute of the BSO, you are known to have huge personal issues with Ms. Needleman. In my orchestra, room numbers are also kept confidential. That said, musicians share that information freely, especially when groups are arranging to meet for meals, gatherings, etc.. They also share each other’s information freely, not suspecting anyone might knock on someone’s door at 3am. There is absolutely no way you personally could know as fact what you have suggested here. Whether intentionally or not, in effect you have insinuated Ms. Needleman “was asking for it”. Particularly as a woman you should be ashamed.

        • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

          Opening the door, letting them in, and talking for 10 min is strange. She would have to have known it was a booty call. What else would transpire at that time of night?

          I would ignore a knock on my door at 3 AM. If I didn’t want to talk, I would not invite them in, either. So, its not as black and white as you see it.

          I wouldn’t blame any musician for being pissed off at a colleague who was ridiculing their playing. If that accusation was well founded then there would have been lots of witnesses in the orchestra to back it up.

          • Goldie says:

            I would open the door to a colleague. They may be in distress, mental or physical. If I could help them, I would.

        • Another Musician says:

          There are plenty of folks in the BSO who do not get along perfectly with Katherine, not just our Principal Flute. Not sure why it is hard to believe she offered her room number to Jonathan. She herself said in the interview they were friends before that, “he was very supportive the first two years.,.” She must have felt confident enough in what looked like to her to be mutual respect to open her room door and invite him in for 10 minutes, even at that hour in the morning. There’s nothing “low” about the truth. My comment does not insinuate “she asked for it.” You do that by yourselves. By “it” you imply he acted on his desires when all accounts demonstrate it was only a conversation, btw.

      • Yet Another Musician says:

        This is an absolutely disgusting comment and you should be ashamed of yourself, “Another Musician.” Through your comments on various articles over the past couple weeks, you have shown yourself to be condescending, short-sighted, and misogynistic (it’s possible even if you yourself are a woman). The implication that she was “asking” for the sexual advance and the subsequent harassment she has received is truly revolting and only serves to reveal your own loathsome character.

        The fact is that no one has had the personal experience of Katherine Needleman, EXCEPT for Katherine Needleman. And I would implore everyone commenting on this article, especially “Another Musician,” who is apparently a colleague of Katherine’s, to be respectful of someone else’s lived experience, even if you find her objectionable as a person.

  • william osborne says:

    A student has written a letter to the Balitmore Symphony with some allegations that backs up Needleman. Needleman posted it on her Facebook page. A copy is below:

    Dear BSO and Ms. Needleman,

    I recently read the Washington Post article about the sexual harassment allegations against Jonathan Carney, and felt the need to reach out about actions by Mr. Carney towards me.

    In 2014-16, I was an undergraduate student at Towson University in the symphony orchestra. Jonathan Carney came to one of our rehearsals to teach a master class. I remember feeling honored and excited to work with such a well known violinist and hoped Mr. Carney would notice my playing.

    Unfortunately he seemed to notice more than my playing. My good friend was a Teacher’s Assistant for the orchestra conductor, and after class overheard Mr. Carney saying to my conductor, “Who’s the girl with the tits?” When my conductor replied with confusion, Mr. Carney specified where I was sitting- making it clear the statement was about me. When my friend, the TA, told me about this incident, I got incredibly upset. I couldn’t believe Mr. Carney could say something so unprofessional and was speaking to my conductor like it was a boys locker room, instead of about my playing or musical skills.

    Although my interaction with Mr. Carney was on a lesser scale, it is extremely reflective of his character and values. I was incredibly offended and upset – so much so, that after debating for many years about getting a breast reduction surgery, this incident was the final straw for me to think that possibly if I got the surgery, men (especially in superior positions) would take me more seriously.

    The lewd comments made by Mr. Carney have stuck with me since the incident. It makes me angry to hear about this story from such an accomplished woman and musician, and I hope other women come forward too about Mr. Carney and his unprofessional harassment.

    Zoe Kurtz

    • william osborne says:

      I can’t vouch for the veracity of the letter, but it is certain that new standards of behavior and new forms of accountability are evolving in classical music. Abuse in our field has such a long and sordid history that it is all but a tradition. We need higher standards of human dignity. The process of change will be difficult, but it is needed.

      • Wai kit leung says:

        In the CD review saga with Needleman, there were also letters written to the review website owner that lead to my firing. One of the letters, made public, was full of lies, and it turned out the writer of the letter was a made-up identity.

        I am not saying if it is the case here, but it has happened with Katherine Needleman before.

        • william osborne says:

          There are two reported witnesses to what Carney allegedly said about the student, the conductor of the orchestra at Towson, and his TA. This adds credibility to the letter.

          Your resentments toward Needleman (I know neither of you) are so obvious that it could make your own credibility problematic.

          As an aside, I would guess part of the reaction toward your review has a lot to do with the nature of professional organizations for instrumentalists like the Double Reed Society, and their discussion groups. They have a strong orientation around the stars in their field who are treated with a kind of cult-like hero worship. If anyone dares to tarnish one of their idols, they react like a lynch mob. And it takes very little to trigger those mob reactions. (We see it here on SD all the time.) It may well be that Needleman used these tendencies against you (even if prima donnas in the oboe world are extremely rare……….,) but you also have to admit that you put your foot in it, so to speak.

          Commenting from great distance and thus perhaps without all the details, I would recommend just scraping your shoe off and heading on down the sidewalk. Those instrumental society donnybrooks are usually disregarded as quickly as they appear. The real issue is that it’s a disgrace that your publisher didn’t stand behind you. It’s not a matter of whether you were right or wrong, but the ethical standards of upholding freedom of opinion. It seems to me that you should be conducting your jihad more toward your publisher than Needleman.

          But forgive me if I stay out of oboe-world spats….

          • Wai kit leung says:

            If the writer of the letter was a fictional character, it was a fictional character. I had done my background search before stating that fact here publicly. I do not make things up, regardless of my resentment level.

            As someone from another thread has told you, Me. Osborne, please do yourself a favour and stop posting misinformation.

          • william osborne says:

            It is ridiculous to assume that this signed letter which mentions two witnesses, one a well-known faculty member, is fictitious. If the letter were a fake, it would have immediately been exposed. Your vendetta grande is blinding you.

          • Wai Kit Leung says:

            Mr. Osborne, your well-known bias for women’s right is binding you. I said I didn’t know of the veracity of this letter concerning Mr. Carney. I just said for my own saga with Ms. Needleman, a letter written by a person who didn’t exist was sent to the review website (MusicWeb) owner, and the false/made up information on that letter caused MusicWeb to cut ties with me immediately.

            Can you calm down and read carefully before you post? You have confused matters on the NYPO story as well as on this one.

          • william osborne says:

            You made a clear and unjustifiable insinuation that the letter from the student could be a forgery. That is irrational. Better move on to some other attack in your jihad against Needleman.

          • Nat says:

            William, I always assumed that part of the motivation for the over-the-top reaction to the negative review wasn’t hero worship, it was that the review came across as snarky and insulting towards American oboists in general. In most fields (not just music), if you’re going to publish flippant dismissals of an entire community, you’d better have a towering reputation to match if you want to avoid professional consequences. I intensely dislike online lynch mobs but my own reaction to reading it was “who is this guy and how did he get paid to write this?” (Disclaimer: not an oboist, not on Facebook, don’t know any of these people, but I like American oboe playing.)

            In any case I agree this vendetta isn’t making anyone look better.

          • william osborne says:

            Yes, when it comes to schools of playing, them’s fightin’ words.

          • Wai kit leung says:

            @William Osborne: I made a claim that the letter in my case with Katherine Needleman was forged. Is it not important for others who follow this case to know? How often does one get a forged letter that results in immediate termination?

            @Nat: only Katherine Needleman and her herd would claim that I was dismissing an entire community of oboists. You are exposing your true identity here.

        • Judy says:

          I have been a subscriber to the BSO for over 25 years. Baltimore is a very small town. We all laughingly call it Smaltimore. I encourage you to share your story in a letter to the Editor at the Baltimore Sun. Our community needs the full story, not just a smear campaign.

          • Wai kit leung says:

            Hello Judy, this is not a smear campaign by any means. I had contacted the Sun more than a year ago regarding this forged letter and other irregularities in my saga with Ms. Needleman. They didn’t respond to me. Can you help?

    • Judy says:

      I have known Jon for almost 20 years. He doesn’t talk like that, period.

      • william osborne says:

        Then by all means put your full, real name on your post and stand behind it just like this student has.

        • Judy says:

          I did. And my emaill.

          • william osborne says:

            I do not see your full, real name here, nor does anyone else, but we all see the student’s.

          • Judy says:

            If you see my email them you see my full name. Both are required, right? I don’t want to get into a fight over something so dumb. Two amazing musicians are clearly at odds, or at least one is with the other. It is very sad for my city, Baltimore, and our Orchestra.

          • Bill says:

            You put in your email, which may well disclose your full name, but the site does not reveal it to the other readers.

    • Another Musician says:

      This is interesting. It leaves me to conclude the student would have known none of this if the TA had not told her about it. Perhaps it is the TA who has a weak character? Basically the student heard a rumor.

    • Another Musician says:

      Sounds like Zoe wouldn’t have known what Mr. Carney said if the TA had not told her. She evidently has no firsthand knowledge of the remark. How are we supposed to believe it happened as described? Does the TA have a problem with Carney?

  • Anne says:

    I think it is simply inappropriate in the work place for one colleague to ask another for sex.

    • Karl says:

      I wonder if sex outside of marriage will be banned soon. It actually is a class 4 misdemeanor in some states.

      • Anne says:

        That has nothing to do with it. Where I work, you would be terminated for asking a co-worker for sex — especially considering the circumstances – showing up at 3am at your hotel door. That is predatory behavior and I am sure she was freaked out by it. I know I would be. This is not a dating situation and has nothing to do about marriage. If he wants to cheat on his wife that is between the two of them.

  • SIDDHARTHA says:

    The entire #MeToo movement is not the long-overdue justice finally reaching the mainstream society. It is a part of a globalist plot to annihilate the very fabric of our society that is no longer convenient. People believe that at last they are given the platforms to fight for their rights and equality in the workplace and at home, while in fact by engaging in the movement they are self-destroying their own civilization.

    If any forthcoming interaction between the genders is potentially a life destroying threat in the subsequent future, it will be abandoned. The written consent affidavits proposed in Sweden are not a solution. Who would want to socialize, or God forbid flirt, with a pile of release forms to sign before you even greet each other? What will result from this is the artificial population and IVF families that will be a perfect material for eternal milking by the engineers of this new order. Time to wake up?!

  • Wai kit leung says:

    I read that many American orchestras have been struggling financially. Has this saga strained the BSO’s finances? I suppose the service of the independent law firm didn’t come cheap …

  • William Ford says:

    Could he start an action against her for creating a hostile work environment for him, including her false claims about him (as determined by the earlier investigation)? Let the games begin…

  • Wai kit leung says:

    “Today, I finally named my harasser publicly. It is the scariest thing I have ever done”

    She certainly has done tons of scary stuff over the years. I doubt if this one is the scariest though.

    • anon says:

      Wai, Back when this started for you, all you had to say was “Today, I finally named my harasser publicly. It is the scariest thing I have ever done. Her name is Katherine Needleman.”

      And then walked away.

  • Papagena says:

    Message to Mr. Lebrecht:

    Why are you continuing to allow Wai Kit Leung dominate your reader comments? You have redacted and stopped publishing comments from certain other very credible readers, why are you giving him a free rein here?

    I also “have no dog in this race” as someone else aptly put it, but he has harped on this issue with Needleman ad nauseum, he has made snide underhanded comments, he has attacked a distinguished former Principal Oboe who commented on the subject, he has belittled valued contributor William Osborne and he responds to nearly every single comment here, attacking colleagues and making this whole situation about himself. He has become an official troll on this site.

    Now he is starting in with insinuating comments about how the Baltimore Symphony may be in financial peril because of this situation, underlying what he made clear in his original review of Needleman: he is defensive and jealous and full of hatred for most things American.

    Norman, why are you allowing him to continue? I for one, have tried to publish several anonymous comments simply defending myself (no, I am not Needleman) and my point of view and you didn’t print them. Yet you allow Wai Kit Leung to run rampant thru your reader comments.

    He has said his piece. Do not feed the troll. Readers, please not respond to him any more. Norman, pease shut him down NOW. You’ve done that to much less offensive posters here already. It’s only fair that you treat him equally.

    • The View from America says:

      You expect us to believe that your posts haven’t been published by SD?

      Like this one?


      • Papagena says:

        To Wm. Ford and View from America:

        Yes I was censored. I was using the name “Anon” and wrote how much I liked Alex Klein’s comment. 2 people thought I was Needleman and another thought I was Klein’s PR rep. I tried to respond that I’m not and Norman wouldn’t print my post. I guess it’s more scintillating than the truth. He selective posted my comments and suddenly they didn’t go thru at all.

        It’s happened several times on this topic. I was using the name “Anon” and had to change it to Papagena and now my posts are going thru. So yes, I have been censored quite a bit on the Needleman threads. I was not offensive or particularly conflictive. Being long winded perhaps was my worst offense.

        In light of this, yes, I am irritated that Wai Kit Leung is running rampant thru these comments when I have been censored myself and for far less.

        It will be interesting to see if this post goes thru.

        • The View from America says:

          A suggestion: Instead of creating a “range” of different “personas” under which to comment, pick one name and stick with it. That way, readers can recognize all of your comments as coming from the same source instead of an attempt to appear as a crowd of different commenters.

          Also, unless you are sending comments in via different e-mail addresses, the SD moderator can see that you are the same person, regardless of whether you’re posting as “Papagena” or “Anon” or “Frustrated” or “Disaster Zone” or whatever. The notion that you can sneak around using different names and “fool the would-be censor” is simply incorrect.

          • Nat says:

            It’s also very common for forums like this to report the commenter’s IP address to the moderator, which makes it immediately obvious when someone is playing at sock puppets.

          • Papagena says:

            But I don’t want to be identifiable. And I had chosen my name: Anon. That’s what I used until it apparently was blocked. What you’re saying works well when readers want to identify writers as being the same, but I don’t want to be identified when I’m writing. I basically want no identity, no continuity with anything else I’ve said, nothing. Most of the time, I just want the freedom to comment anonymously. It makes no difference to me if the SD moderator knows by my email or IP address who I am. That isn’t made public.

            It’s not “sock puppeting”, its protecting one’s identity in a digital age.

          • The View from America says:

            “It makes no difference to me if the SD moderator knows by my email or IP address who I am. That isn’t made public.”

            Time to put two and two together: If you’re complaining about being blocked, it better make a difference to you if the SD moderator knows your email or IP address. ‘Cause that would be the person blocking you.

    • William Ford says:

      Did someone die and make you censor? I have enjoyed all of the discussion.

      • Papagena says:

        Mr. Ford. Look, if I am being censored for trying to explain to readers that they have mistaken me for Katherine Needleman and several other points which are not offensive at all, then those same rules should apply to Leung. You don’t censure some people and not others.

    • Doug says:

      It’s “William Osborne” (if that’s her real name) who is dominating this thread. They’re tied at 10 comments each but Osborne’s word count is about four times higher. But I know, I know, it’s all about feelz for you leftists.

      • The View from America says:

        With respect, I don’t think this is a “right-left” issue. But it is a “right-wrong” issue.

        … And regardless of Mr. Carney’s own personal failings, Ms. Needlemen is most definitely “wrong” — on so many levels.

      • jaypee says:

        Doug, do you get paid per comment or do you have a monthly rate for writing such moronic comments?
        How do you manage to be constantly and systematically stupid in every post you send?
        Did you lose a bet or don’t you have any sense of decency at all?
        I know you’re a trumpanzee, so why am I asking…

    • Nat says:

      Unless there’s a legal issue involved I’m sure Mr. Lebrecht has more interesting and productive things to do with his time than moderating the comments here. Personally I would prefer to let the individual in question rant away and make a fool of himself; he’s already lost any sympathy I might have once had for him. (Again, a disclaimer: don’t know these people, don’t care, but I don’t like being accused of sock puppeting either.)

      • The View from America says:

        “Unless there’s a legal issue involved I’m sure Mr. Lebrecht has more interesting and productive things to do with his time than moderating the comments here …”

        I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that he moderates EVERY comment on this site. SD is pretty much his entire gig these days.

    • Trouble Marker says:

      In 2016, Katherine Needleman wrote: “ … So not only does he insult me, which I find rather amusing in this case, but in his quite amazing review, he insults an entire nation or perhaps continent of oboe players as well.…”

      In 2018, a fictional character wrote: “Now he is starting in with insinuating comments about how the Baltimore Symphony may be in financial peril because of this situation, underlying what he made clear in his original review of Needleman: he is defensive and jealous and full of hatred for most things American.”

      Do I see a pattern here?

      • Papagena says:

        Yes. The pattern is in Wai Kit Leung’s snarky comments which insinuate a genuine defensiveness and desire to undermine certain things American. I am not an oboist and for the umpteenth time I am not Katherine Needleman, nor do I have “any dogs in this race”. I am an interested observer reading all the comments here and trying to make sense out of them.

        I did not like Wai Kit Leung’s supposedly innocent queries about the Baltimore Symphony. They were not innocent. They were just as menacing as his underhanded comment about Needleman’s audition. He is trying to undermine Needleman from a different direction.

        He throws the stone and hides his hand. He underestimates the general readership of this site tremendously to think that we can’t see thru that. A review, under the guise of honesty, apparently expressed doubts of the American school of oboe playing. Again I am not an oboist, this is what I have read. Now he expresses his “concern” for the financial situation of American orchestras and the Baltimore Symphony in particular as a result of Needleman’s actions.

        I came to this situation with an open mind, trying to see all sides. But from his very comments, this Wai Kit Leung has proven himself beyond a doubt to me, to be a person of poor character, in my opinion.

        • Wai kit leung says:

          You have made far-fetched assertions about me being against all things American. I had written much more favourable reviews on other American oboists’ playing, and Ms. Needleman’s record company did put my review up on their official website. These should say something, don’t you think?

          You also admitted that you posted under different personas so that people could not detect continuity in your posts, and got censored for that. As least people know who I am and I stand behind my statements under one real name, not under a plethora of different personas, which distorts the impression of a mass of people are giving the same opinion. I will leave it to the general readership to judge your character.

          The reason for me to come forward is that after I went public with the incident two years ago, cyber crimes were committed against me (criminal offences in my jurisdiction). I wasn’t given a chance for a follow-up. Now that another potential victim (Mr. Carney)’s reputation is on the line, I need to reveal these findings.

        • Wai kit leung says:

          FYI if you claim my review was anti American or against the American school of oboe playing, you should claim the same for American Record Guide’s review on the same album, written by an American player. Please go check the facts before you defame me again (under this name or another).

          • Papagena says:

            You are extracting what you want to from my posts and not reading them correctly.

            I was posting under the name “Anon”, and when I tried to reply to readers who had mistaken me for Needleman, my posts stopped going through. I changed my name to Papagena to see if my posts would be published. There are a lot of people using the name “Anon” and I suspect there was a glitch. My posts are now going thru, and that is the end of it. I understand that you are fearful that people are posting under multiple names, but that is not the case here.

            I am not an oboist, I am not involved in the oboe community and I have little interest in reading oboe reviews. The concept that you are not a fan of the US oboe school came from posts that I’ve read. It’s a valid opinion and I do not question your right to feel this way. The comments about the Baltimore Symphony I read for myself here and I did not like them. I felt they were underhanded and just another way to undermine Needleman. I saw a possible connection between your dislike of the US oboe school and your negative suggestions about a major US orchestra.

            I do not side with either you or Needleman either the review or the current BSO situation. What I can tell you as an impartial observer is that you have seriously derailed your own credibility by your behavior and comments here. Several very reputable professionals and other random observers have tried to tell you this already. You are just not getting it. You want the last word. You want to be vindicated. You want to be right. This is not the way to do it.

            You need to just walk away. Do you want to be forever remembered as the oboe internet troll who hounded Slipped DIsc readers to the point where you alienated them all? No. You have a lot to offer as an oboe expert who writes well. Do that. Go on with your life. Write oboe reviews, scholarly articles, whatever you are best at. Forget about this. Let people remember your name for something more worthwhile and meaningful than being an internet victim.

          • Wai kit leung says:


            There is only one very reputable professional musician I am having a debate with here, and he is my former teacher.

            I am here to share facts that may very well be relevant to the current investigation. Once I have had the chance to share all of it, you won’t see me posting (or trolling) on this matter. The potential victim (Mr. Carney)’s reputation is more important than mine at this point. If Mr. Carney is indeed innocent of the charges and he can be exonerated by having a troll (me) here, I will be glad to go down as a troll.

            For you to publically denounce me as anti all things American hurts your credibility more than mine. Me pointing out the BSO must be hurting due to this = me disliking the BSO? That’s as far fetched as it can get.

            Katherine Needleman has made sure I will never write reviews again.

          • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

            Why were you asked to review her CD? Needleman has been guest principal with the orchestras of NY, Chicago, and Boston. Those opportunities are proof of her standing in the oboe community. By your online bio, you are a student with no professional experience at that level.

            You are not her peer as an oboist and were put in a no-win situation by the organization that hired you to review her CD. You did the best job that you could.

            Its like a high school band horn player getting hired to play principal horn for the New York Phil on Tchaik 5 for a night. It can’t possibly end well but I would not blame the kid.

          • Papagena says:

            Wai Kit: you seem have difficulty with reading comprehension. I’m assuming that English perhaps is not your 1st language. Perhaps it’s for this reason.

            Just to clarify: I said that I did not like your comments about the BSO. I did not say that you did not like the BSO. That’s a pretty glaring misinterpretation for someone who aspires to trade in words.

            I also said that several reputable professionals as well as other random observers had suggested here that you should walk away. I said nothing about who you are debating with.

            I am not accusing you of being anti-American, I am making a possible connection between your dislike of the US oboe school and your negative suggestions about a major US orchestra. That a possible personal interpretation on my part and I am entitled to speculate.

            These are really obvious mis-reads on your part. Before you go into attack mode, you should make sure you are reading correctly.

            Lastly Jonathan Carney does not need your help, Wai Kit. He is a highly regarded Concertmaster of a major US orchestra. He has an excellent lawyer handling this and friends in very high places. To think that he would need you to be trolling Slipped DIsc comments on his behalf is not only absurd, it’s insulting.

            Your story is out there. Everyone knows about it. If Mr. Carney needs your help, I’m sure his lawyer will contact you. You have made your point over and over again here among the same Slipped Disc readers. There is nothing more for you to say.

            You have stated your case, both here and in the press. You have beaten us over the head with your perspective to the point where you have alienated any possible allies. You personally attack anyone who disagrees with you. You accuse people here of posting under multiple names. You think everyone is out to get you. You completely misread and misunderstand what I, for one, have posted and get into a tizzy over it. You insult regular commenters who post under their own name. You say really nasty things to people here. How can we possibly be on your side? I feel badly for you.

            No one else wants to deal with you here. Notice that people just stop responding to you, as I will shortly do. Others just feel sorry for you and question why you even reviewed that cd, as the last poster, “Enquiring MInds” did. I’ve tried to explain to you humanely what you’re doing wrong, as have others. You are on a destruction course with yourself and you won’t listen. Mr. Carney does not need your help. You need to help yourself.

            You win the Internet Victim Award on Slipped Disc, Wai Kit. Now I am walking away. Over and out.

      • Mel says:

        It is clear that Needleman and her cronies were/are smearing Wai Kit Leung by claiming that he is anti-American. The gang is known for their histronics. They should try something different next time, as their tactic is very one-dimensional.

  • Frontdesk says:

    This behaviour on tour, is rife. Always has been. Always will. In all worldwide orchestras. Women shouldn’t have to put up with it, but we do. A few sharp words is sufficient. And room numbers are only given out if asked. Just saying….

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I am sure it has been very common in the past, but things are slowly changing. Poor behaviour in the workplace is increasingly being addressed by management in a way it wasn’t in the past.

  • Peter Jancovic says:

    Why do people go on about sexual misconduct here? He did cross the line but got a ‘No’ and left the room without any further nonsense.
    She is not doing this right now saying he molested her. She is actually saying he started being real mean to her afterwards and as a result of her saying no has created a work environment she just can’t take anymore.
    He gives her mean looks, he wouldn’t move away for her in a stairwell, makes comments about her tuning note! The horror!
    Nonsense. Funny though, that this ‘gentle’ woman who’s made countless students cry because of her mean and abusive, sharp-tongued ‘teaching’ technique (was even fired because of it), this woman who went after the one less-than-glowing critic of her cd as if he stole and murdered her firstborn child, is now acting as if this has been such an awful time for her gentle self and she just can not take another look from this man who when denied just left her room!

    Btw, this happens in Orchestras all the time. Passive aggressive is the name of the game for centuries! Donald Peck and Ray Still didn’t talk to each other for decades and yet sat next to each other and played beautifully. I have a colleague (I am the principal she is 3rd chair in my section) who intentionally messes with me any time she has a chance by slightly playing out of tune, pushing a vibrato that overpowers my piano in a solo, taps her foot even after politely asked to stop it as it distracts me, when asked if she could please not use as much perfume (we are wind players) I think she intentionally uses even more, constantly plays my solos as I walk on stage for rehearsals up until the moment I actually sit down next to her, has done her best to garner support and talks about me not being deserving of my Principal chair…I have taken it all as part of the game. She’s been in the Orchestra 20+ more years than I, she’s been warned many times by our management but I’ve asked they not go as far as firing because I can deal with it and it’s clear she’s not going to change her ways in her 60’s so why make her unemployed too, on top up of already being a bitter old woman. So, that’s my story and I only put it up here to show what other professional musicians deal with and consider to be part of the Orchestra life. I am in no way unique or the worst case of this. So, just like Peck and Still, I go up on stage and enjoy music, get paid well and I go live my life.

    Also, let me just say, touring musicians, think of it what you will, but they have affairs on tours almost as if it is demanded in their contracts. Not news. Think of it what you will but know that it doesn’t matter what society thinks of it. It’s been this way since ever. Think, ancient Greece, flute player travels from Athens to Thessaloniki and hooks up with the lute player while his wife goes up on Olympus to pay her respect to Zeus! So in this day and age, it’s laughable to pretend it isn’t happening or that it’s shocking.
    Believe me, there is no group of traveling musicians that are not hooking up on tour. It’s like NBA athletes on away games. Sometimes even married couples in the same Orchestra will cheat on each other with other Orchestra members while on the same tour! I’ve witnessed that. Again, personally, I’ve always taken it as part of the game. Not judging, loving my life and wife and supporting my colleagues in whatever way they choose to enjoy their lives. All I care about is playing beautiful concerts and sharing good moments with all of them. The rest is their own business.

    Ok, so, while for the private room meeting between Needleman and the concertmaster there are no witnesses, their interactions at work are almost fully witnessed by all. 19 witnesses did not agree with her. 2 separate investigations by the Orchestra did not agree with her stand.
    Why do you keep screaming #metoo? She is not a victim and yet is wearing the #metoo movement badge. This woman is known for being an extremely difficult, temperamental trouble maker. Many have spoken up about her abuse and mean behavior.

    I believe after Peabody and the cd review fiasco she has earned distrust.
    Again, she was not molested and is not saying she was. She is only vaguely attaching herself to the #metoo movement but is actually saying, ‘the concertmaster is real mean to me and it’s because I didn’t wanna have sex with him’. There are ways to prove that and she hasn’t been able to. Stop labeling anyone who doesn’t agree with her as if they are all saying ‘whatever, rape is fine, harassment is fine, she deserved it, men are awesome!’

    I for one hope I never meet this woman. She sounds like an awful person who’ll say and do anything to get her way.

    • The View from America says:


      The faster people can see through the Needleman charade, the very legitimate #MeToo movement can regain its footing.

      … and the faster the fine musicians of the BSO can escape from this sh*t-storm of drama and begin concentrating on making great music again. Just like you do.

    • Papagena says:

      I don’t think she’s an awful person but maybe a bit unrealistic to think that the passive aggressive behavior which you’ve described so well, which we all experience to some extent, can be controlled legally.

      I posted exactly the same comment that you did. You learn to work around this behavior. You become a stronger musician, you prepare more carefully and you become more self aware. You learn how to deflect it and to play thru it.

      Maybe she can do something about it, who knows. It’s a new era, this “me too” generation. Perhaps change is possible. But my experience is that when you start making complaints about situations like this, tread very carefully. You can end up looking bad. In my world (not the US) you run a risk of being called on the carpet for defamation.

      The “Battered Broad” reference looks pretty silly. That’s what we call it, men and women alike. Along with “Afternoon on the Farm”, “Taco Bell” Canon and plenty more. It might not be politically correct, but as an example of discrimination, it’s a little far-fetched. It’s not convincing and sounds petty.

      Wishing Ms. Needleman satisfaction with this. She has my empathy for having to endure this uncomfortable situation as a Principal player and play well despite it. But there are legions of us who are faced with the same thing and don’t publicly call out the offender like this. She wants to be in control of this situation and I just don’t think that’s possible.

    • Bruce says:

      +1,000 also

  • Bruce says:

    An interesting (I thought) article about what we mean when we say “I believe so-and-so,” and where such statements come from/ what kind of thinking they lead to. It’s based on the current US Supreme Court Kavanaugh/ Blasey Ford kerfuffle, but it’s easy to transfer the ideas to this situation.

    • Wai kit leung says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Bruce. I will share this on my Facebook page. The fact that one such article needed to be written truly shocked me. I thought it was common sense that one could not believe or not believe what one doesn’t know. Oh well.

  • CGDA says:

    Can anyone who flaunts their professional and legal battles in the media be credible?

    • Wai kit leung says:

      Anyone who created dozens of fake online personas to spread lies and libels against a music critic, and to forge a letter under a fake name to get the critic fired, is not credible.

  • Wai Kit leung says:

    @Enquiring mind

    Most reviewers don’t even play oboe. I was reviewing her actual CD, not her resumé. For the hundreds of oboists (including many principal oboes in major US orchestras) who hurled abuses and insults at me over the review, none could actually point out what was factual wrong about it. It really doesn’t take a top professional to tell if someone lacks an inner pulse and has trouble maintaining a steady tempo.

    Ms. Needleman got her Baltimore position without getting through the 1st round of her audition. That fact was not made public, though it is an open secret in part of the oboe community. Other guest principal opportunities came as a result of her standing with the BSO.

    • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

      You were out of your league and that fact came around to bite you in the ass. Accept it and don’t keep making the same mistake (see my previous comment for a description of your mistake) over and over.

    • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

      You were out of your league and that fact alone came around to bite you in the a$$. Don’t make the same mistake (see my previous comment for what that mistake was) again.

      • Bill says:

        His employer assigned him a CD to review, and he did so. If you don’t like someone’s reviews, or don’t think they are qualified to comment, don’t read them. And as the performer, or friend or colleague of a performer, or even a critic, you don’t get to dictate what someone else’s reaction to a performance (or review) should be, As he points out, the label saw fit to quote his review on their website, so it is difficult to interpret it as an all-out attack.

        Frankly, you don’t have to be a world-class oboist to be able to form an opinion on whether there seems to you to be a steady rhythmic pulse in a performance. I think performances that might be described as metronomic are often pretty boring, but that’s not to say any arbitrary bending of tempo and rhythm will be convincing, either, especially if the listener has a different view about a passage. I listened to the Schumann op. 94/2 clip available for sampling and immedately heard a rubato that is not to my particular taste – and apparently not to the taste of Heinz Holliger or Albrecht Mayer, either, judging from their recordings. I trust they are oboists of sufficient qualification to make that choice?

        Bottom line: if you’re a performer, performing for an audience not just composed of your closest friends and like-minded colleagues, it is pretty much a sure thing that some will not shower your performances with the praise you think they merit. If coping with this is a problem, maybe you should be doing something else, no matter how talented you might be.

        • William E Ford says:


        • The View from America says:


        • Enquiring mind wants to know says:

          Bottom line, a “reviewer” who criticizes the “rhythm and pulse” of a veteran performer is clueless as to what music criticism is. Maybe to a beginner student, its tapping your foot with the expectation that the soloist should be with you. lol

          I once heard one excellent wind player say about another’s performance (both play the same instrument), “I wouldn’t play it like that but he’s playing it the way he wants”.

          That would be the attitude of the top level players you cite to another performer at the same level.

          • Wai kit leung says:

            A real top level player does not publish a studio recording with wrong notes (wrong reading, not slips) in one of the most performed pieces (Poulenc’s Oboe Sonata) in the canon.

            Have you actually heard the recording?

  • Wai kit leung says:

    I have personally witnessed another high-profile US player asking for a music critic (one who is infinitely more reputable than me) to be fired, after an even milder review than mine. Perhaps it is expected that music critics are just yes-men/yes-women?

  • Alex Konig says:

    To summarise: Man propositions self-absorbed neurotic woman and regrets it.

    The independent hearing found nothing. Except it did find something. A nutter.