What to do when your mom invites the mayor to your solo performance?

Apollo Homb won the Southeast Minnesota Youth Orchestra concerto competition and an opportunity to perform solo.

Mayor Norton SEMYO.JPG
From left, Sophia Chen, Apollo Homb's mom, with her daughter Artemis Chen, 2, on her lap, sit next to Rochester Mayor Kim Norton at the Southeast Minnesota Youth Orchestra's spring concert at Lourdes High School May 15, 2022. Apollo Homb, 11, was one of the youngest ever winners of the SEMYO concerto competition in February.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Apollo Homb was about to perform a Mozart concerto solo in front of hundreds of people assembled at the Lourdes High School auditorium when he saw his mom, Sophia Chen, sitting in the front row.

Next to Rochester Mayor Kim Norton — whom Sophia personally invited to the performance.

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For some people, that kind of encouragement would backfire spectacularly. For Homb, it was another clutch performance.

In February, the Kellogg Elementary School sixth-grader was one of the youngest ever winners of the Southeast Minnesota Youth Orchestra’s concerto competition. The honor earned him the solo recognition at the SEMYO spring concert May 15, 2022.

“I was very nervous,” Homb said. “The large crowd kind of threw me off a bit.”


It didn’t show, Norton said.

“I thought Apollo’s performance was wonderful,” she said. “I was very impressed that an 11-year-old could perform so well under pressure and in front of a crowd.”

The day before playing the concerto competition, Apollo had a skiing accident, chipping a tooth and bruising his face. Again, the circumstances didn’t affect his performance.

Apollo has been playing violin since age 4.

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Apollo Homb, 11, performs solo at the Southeast Minnesota Youth Orchestra's spring concert at Lourdes High School May 15, 2022.

He joined the SEMYO chamber strings at age 7 shortly after moving to Rochester from Kentucky.

For Apollo, practicing the piece is only part of the preparation. Anticipating the emotion it evokes, playing with feeling to go with that is part of his preparation, he said.

“If I’m doing a solo, I try to imagine what the crowd is thinking and focus a lot on the music, and play it like I usually would,” he said.

Although he earned a moment in the spotlight solo, Apollo said the recognition was a team effort. He mentioned his violin teachers by name — James Buchan, DeAnn Spencer and Timothy Durbin — and SEMYO conductors for helping prepare him for the competition.


Apollo said he plans to continue playing music. While performing solo was fun, he said his favorite performances are outreach concerts the group puts on for schools that don’t have orchestras.

Each school year, SEMYO musicians perform in four regional schools to share classical music.

“I personally felt glad I was giving and sharing music with them,” Apollo said. “They’re very curious about the instruments.”

Apollo Homb.

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or
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