… making a piece reach out and touch the audience requires more than just notes – it takes mature musicality, which is just what de Waart believes the two new principal players in the orchestra’s wind section bring to the table.

The two new faces belong to principal oboe Katherine Young Steele and principal flute Sonora Slocum.

Adding a new principal to any section in the orchestra produces both immediate changes in the orchestra’s sound as well as change in that section’s ensemble sensibilities that will develop over time.

Part of de Waart’s job is to build his vision for the orchestra through each player he hires during his tenure. Remembering that de Waart began his professional musical life as an oboist, it seemed only fair to ask if hearing oboe auditions is more difficult for him than hearing auditions on other instruments.

“No. It’s probably harder on the ones auditioning who probably feel I might have a strong feeling about sound or something,” he said.

De Waart heard Young Steele audition for the principal oboe in the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and remembers being impressed then.

“She was one of two or three we considered for that job,” he recalled.


Gee, he conducted San Francisco Opera? That I didn’t know. And when would that audition have been? Or did they call him in for the audition a few years back? (Just wondering out loud here.)

Update: Looking him up online I have read that he did a Ring Cycle here in 1980, but that’s all I’ve found.


  1. They must mean San Francisco Symphony and that was 3 decades ago.

  2. I wondered about that, Beth, but he did conduct opera for a Ring Cycle so I thought maybe it was when SFOpera was between conductors and they asked him to sit in . But 1980? I didn’t even know they had opera auditions in 1980. Maybe that’s when Bill Bennet won the SFSymphony chair. That would make sense.