NEWS-_CellistCellist celebrates 40 years with the Pops

In 1973, Toni Rapier found herself playing cello for the Boston Pops in the culmination of a whirlwind journey that sent her traveling across the country. This summer, she celebrates 40 years with the Pops and looks forward to many more.


Her journey began in fourth grade, when she started playing the violin. After playing for a year, she decided to transition to cello, a decision she said made a huge difference in her life.

“At that point in my life my biggest decision was whether to save up for a cello or a horse,” Rapier said, smiling as she reflected on her choice. “Fortunately I made the right decision.”

After playing for the Rochester Philharmonic in college, Rapier met her husband, Wayne, an oboist, at Eastman School of Music in Rochester they together they traveled to Kansas City, where they played in the Kansas City Philharmonic. In the meantime, she traveled to California, where she played in a string quartet at the University of Southern California. Their travels next took them to Baltimore, where Rapier took some time off from playing to raise two children. In between having children, she played in many philharmonic and symphony orchestras, including the Baltimore Symphony, while Wayne went on to teach.

“In the first 14 years of married life I think we moved 14 times,” she said. “It was exciting, though, to get to play with all those different groups.”

The Rapiers landed in Duxbury in 1970, when Wayne became the assistant first oboist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. When Wayne mentioned to the conductor that his wife was an accomplished cellist, she was hired without being heard.

“I was lucky,” she said. “I had so much fun playing with the Pops.”

Rapier said one of the most exciting parts about playing with the pops is getting to travel around the country to perform in other venues. Although the Pops don’t travel internationally, Rapier has tagged along to Japan and throughout Europe with her husband and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rapier celebrated her 40th year with the Pops this past Fourth of July, when performers were presented with gifts for their hard work and dedication to the Pops.

Rapier, who prefers to play more classical pieces, currently plays with the Plymouth Philharmonic with her daughter, who also plays cello.

“I think she could hear me playing when I was pregnant with her in Kansas City,” Rapier said. “Every now and then you could hear her banging against the cello.”

She said she keeps busy with the Pops and the Plymouth Philharmonic, as well as teaching. Looking back, she said she has had a very enjoyable life with the cello. 

"It's a busy life, but it's a good life," she said.