Donor Spotlight: Bruce Raymer

Apollo's Fire Family Concert - 2023

Bruce Raymer recently moved from his lifelong home of Lincoln, Nebraska to be closer to family in Medina, and was delighted to find that Apollo’s Fire was based in Northeast Ohio. Bruce is a retired teacher, counselor, and administrator for the Lincoln Public Schools, and most recently retired YMCA Director, and is a baroque music enthusiast. His first introduction to Apollo’s Fire was hearing recordings on Nebraska Public Radio.

When Bruce moved to Ohio last summer, he found Apollo’s Fire concerts in Cleveland while listening to Ideastream. He attended his first performance of Apollo’s Fire live at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Cleveland Heights last fall and was hooked! Fire & Joy was particularly memorable for him. Bruce said of the program, “Bach and Vivaldi are two of my favorite composers and the new connections made between them at the concert were a revelation!”

Following a year of attending Apollo’s Fire concerts in Ohio, Bruce has made an incredible and generous challenge to our donor community – he is matching up to $10,000 in new and increased donations between now and the end of the fiscal year on July 31. His motivation is to both ensure that Apollo’s Fire continues to grow in Northeast Ohio, and to support increased outreach to nontraditional audiences, particularly young people.

Thanks to gifts from Bruce and others, the Apollo’s Fire Community Access Initiative is a strong pillar of the organization. During the 2023-2024 Season, over 9,000 students, young adults, families, and seniors were introduced to Apollo’s Fire through free and discounted ticket programs, and community performances.

Bruce said it best – “This absolute world-class gem of an ensemble should be known by all!”

Musician Feature: Emi Tanabe

emi tanabe

Violinist Emi Tanabe is a familiar and much-loved face in Apollo’s Fire baroque and crossover programs. Born in Japan but now based in Chicago, Emi performs regularly with a multitude of ensembles, including Celtic, jazz, and rock groups. Her fluency in many styles has made her an in-demand artist, noted for her “brilliant improvisations” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer).

We recently sat down with Emi to learn a little more about her. Enjoy these 5 responses to 5 questions!

Question: How long have you been playing the violin? How long have you been playing with Apollo’s Fire and what initially drew you to this group?

Emi: I have been playing the violin for 40 years and I have been with Apollo’s Fire for 20 years. I studied Baroque violin with Apollo’s Fire’s former concertmaster, Cynthia Roberts. She recommended me to Jeannette to play with one of the Apollo’s Fire projects when she needed an extra violin – and that’s when it started!

Question: What has been one of your most memorable Apollo’s Fire performances, and why does it stand out to you?

Emi: That would be our performance at Carnegie Hall in 2022, because it had been my dream to perform there since I was a little girl. Also, at that particular performance, I felt that we, the musicians, became one with the audience, the space, and the sounds we created.

I often feel blessed to play with Apollo’s Fire since we have such amazing teamwork. At this concert, I felt that even more strongly – we created something magical.

Question: What challenges do you face when interpreting and performing Baroque music, and how do you overcome them?

Emi: Before I started to play with a Baroque ensemble, I focused on the individual notes of a melody, and since I’m a violinist, I mostly play melodies. But with a Baroque ensemble, so much importance is put on the phrasings and vertical aspects of the music, like the chords and the depth of the music. That really changed my view of music and my concept of intonation. It’s still a challenge, but I enjoy broadening my horizons in music so much.

Question: When you’re not playing music, what are some of your favorite ways to spend your time?

Emi: I am a hot yoga addict! I also love swimming, exploring great food, going to Jazz Jam session (I know; it’s still music!) to play and meet people with various musical backgrounds.

Question: Looking ahead, are there any upcoming projects or performances with Apollo’s Fire that you are particularly excited about?

Emi: It is hard to say which ones I  am particularly excited about, but I am excited about the variety of different music for the next season: instrumental and choral, and from Bach to Purcell to Irish fiddling and middle eastern music. For every project, I have to have a different mind set. It can be challenging, but I love the challenge!

GALLERY: Family Concerts & School Workshops 2023-2024

Thanks to you, Apollo’s Fire musicians have touched the lives of over 3,000 students this year in northeast Ohio & Chicago. We’ve been constantly inspired by meeting so many enthusiastic young musicians and music-lovers. Thank you for making this work possible!

“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)