In Sunday’s (1/10) Baltimore Sun, Tim Smith writes, “Shea Scruggs remembers the day he first realized the full potential of the oboe. Freshly arrived at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute, he began his first lesson with Richard Woodhams, principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra, by playing an etude. … Since graduating, Scruggs, 28, has performed with several of the country’s top orchestras. Last April, he joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal oboe, and quickly made his presence felt with elegant solo passages. He often plays first oboe for half of a program, with principal oboist Katherine Needleman playing the other; she’s now on maternity leave, so Scruggs will be in the first chair even more often for a while. This weekend, he moves out in front of the ensemble as soloist in Vivaldi’s Oboe Concerto in D minor. … His hiring doubles the orchestra’s African-American representation. For several years, there has been only one other African-American musician in the BSO (cellist Esther Mellon). ‘I think of myself as a musician first,’ Scruggs says, ‘and I hope what I do as a musician is all people think about. I would hope any opportunities that fall to me are because I deserved them. I think it is possible to get a fair shake in classical music.’ ”

Posted January 11, 2010