The American oboist, Wayne Rapier, was offered at age 16 a scholarship to Eastman after being voted "best musician of the year" at the National Music Camp at Interlochen. He obtained his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. He studied with Earnest Harrison and Robert Sprenkle. He also studied privately in Philadelphia with the legendary principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Marcel Tabuteau.
At 19 Wayne Rapier began his orchestral career as principal oboist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, later was associate first oboe with the Philadelphia Orchestra, He toured Europe as a soloist with the Philadelphia String Quartet and Woodwind Quintet, and performed concerti with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, and Kansas City Orchestra, and at the Santa Fe Opera.
Wayne Rapier was oboist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1970 through 1995 (25 years) and a member of the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) faculty from 1972 until shortly after his Boston Symphony Orchestra retirement. He also taught at Longy School of Music, and several other schools. He was also a member of the U.S. Marine Band and Orchestra, the Kansas City, Baltimore, and Robin Hood Dell orchestras. He was also a commercial pilot and certified flight instrument instructor. In the early 1980’s, while on the NEC faculty, Rapier founded the Boston Aria Group with soprano Carole Bogard and fellow faculty members Ray DeVoll, tenor; D'Anna Fortunato, mezzo-soprano; Fenwick Smith, flute; as well as his wife, cellist Toni Rapier, and organist James David Christie '77 M.M., '78 A.D..
After his retirement from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Wayne Rapier continued to perform, but concentrated his energies on the record company he had founded, Boston Records, which he ran out of his home in Duxbury. Its catalogue grew to more than 80 CD’s of solo and chamber-music performances by major orchestral players of the past and the present, including such Boston Symphony Orchestra colleagues (players and their teachers) as clarinetist Harold Wright, bassoonist Sherman Walt, oboist Alfred Genovese, bassist Edwin Barker, flutist Jacques Zoon and harpist Ann Hobson Pilot. On Boston Records there are three very beautiful records by Rapier himself; he knew the soul of his instrument.
Wayne Rapier died on October 17, 2005 in Dana-Faber Cancer Institute. He was 75 and died after a battle with cancer. In addition to his wife and daughter, he left two sons, Christopher of Mentor, Ohio, and David of Mansfield; and four grandchildren.
Wayne Rapier was a congenial fellow, a Southern gentleman who never lost his Texas accent and generous style of going about his business. His longtime Boston Symphony Orchestra colleague, former principal oboist Ralph Gomberg, said: ''Wayne was very talented, a solid musician who worked very hard. He understood the difficulty of maintaining a good sound on the oboe, but he could do it, and he played with spirit and sensitivity. He loved music, the Boston Symphony, and his many friends in the orchestra." One of Rapier's postretirement engagements was to play the Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Oboe with the Plymouth Philharmonic; his daughter, Bonnie Rapier Harlow (b 1975) of Plympton, is a longtime member of the orchestra in the cello section, and his wife, Toni, a member of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, also frequently plays in Plymouth. Music director Steven Karidoyanes said: ''The way he played that piece was luscious. In the dancing sections, he was sprightly and light on his feet, and when it needed to be long and plaintive, it was just that. He humanized the part. He knew this meant not playing with the most gorgeous tones all the time. He was always asking what the music was trying to say, and his response was always 'Let's get at it.' That was a great lesson."