This year, the Topeka Symphony will perform the music of America. Our playlist includes music that represents regions of the country, from the Grand Canyon to the Mississippi, from the great National Parks to Central Park, from our highways to the streets of our cities. We’ll play Gershwin’s jazzy showstoppers, Dvořák’s celebration of the new world, and we’ll break out a brand new Bluegrass concerto for violin that will bring down the house.
In selecting music for this season, I wanted the history and landscape of America to take center stage. I wanted to create the sense that if you could travel not just across the country’s highways, but across its history, these are the songs and sounds that would make up the background soundtrack. You would hear a little folk music, you would hear jazz, you would hear bluegrass, you would hear Hollywood scores, and you would hear songs. I wanted to listen to America.
Join us for our most thrilling season yet, as we listen to America, and find the new and rediscover the old. It’s going to be an amazing ride.


Kyle Wiley Pickett
Music Director and Conductor



All concerts are at White Concert Hall, Washburn University, Topeka, KS unless otherwise noted.

New York Night
October 5, 2019 - 7:30pm

We kick off our season in glittering Big Apple style with music celebrating both the glamour and grit of New York City. We’ll go straight to Manhattan with Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy On the Town and the spectacular Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. We’ll also be joined by pianist Alexander Tutunov performing the show-stopping Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, who defined an era of New York’s best songs and shows. This dazzling concert of New York’s greatest hits will be an Opening Night you won’t want to miss!


Bernstein — Three Dance Episodes from On the Town
Bernstein — West Side Story Symphonic Dances
Gershwin — Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin — I Got Rhythm Variations
With Alexander Tutunov, Piano

From the New World
November 2, 2019 - 7:30pm

While living in New York, Czech composer Antonin Dvořák became interested in Native American music and African-American spirituals. His Symphony No. 9—From the New World, is a thrilling and poignant synthesis of American folk and indigenous melodies woven into the traditional Western symphonic structure and is one of the most popular masterworks in the orchestral repertoire. We will introduce our audience to Joan Tower’s Grammy Award-winning composition Made in America, which weaves America the Beautiful into an intriguing and haunting tone poem. And we’re thrilled to feature the TSO’s own principal oboe, Alyssa Morris, performing her own composition—Dreamscape, a concerto for oboe and orchestra.


Joan Tower — Made in America
Alyssa Morris — Dreamscape — Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra
With Alyssa Morris, Oboe
Dvořák — Symphony No. 9 — From the New World

Capitol Federal® Holiday Concert—
POPS: An American Christmas
December 11, 2019 - 7:30pm

The holiday season is a time for nostalgia and revisiting the memories and music of our childhoods. We remember decorating our homes, gathering with friends and family, eating our favorite holiday foods, and snowball fights. Our American Christmas concert will feature holiday songs you’ve loved your whole life, and we will give you a chance to share them with your family and loved ones at the symphony. Our holiday concert is always one of our biggest hits all season and this year will be no exception! Don’t delay—get your tickets early so you won’t miss the wonderful music and special snowy surprise this year!


Favorite holiday classics

A Little Night Music: Mozart in America
January 11, 2020 - 7:30pm

Mozart’s music has been used to sell cars, Nikes, pancakes, instant coffee, iPods, cable service—even dog food. It has appeared in such wide-ranging films as Batman, Alien, The Shawshank Redemption, Elvira Madigan, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and There’s Something About Mary, among countless others. Mozart has proved his enduring power not only in the concert hall but in how many times his music has been used in popular culture. This concert will feature Mozart’s pieces that have taken on a new life in American popular culture and are familiar to everyone, even those who have never set foot in a concert hall or bought a classical recording. We’re very excited to feature rising star Marika Bournaki as our soloist for Mozart’s most beloved piano concerto.


Mozart — Overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio
Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 21 — Elvira Madigan
With Marika Bournaki, Piano
Mozart — Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music)
Mozart — Symphony No. 40

American Pictures
February 22, 2020 - 7:30pm

We look to the great American landscape as our inspiration for this concert which will feature not only great music, but also beautiful and inspirational photography. Aaron Copland’s Outdoor Overture will get us out into the fresh air. Then we will move to the majestic mountains, trees, rivers, and coastlines in Dave Brubeck’s Ansel Adams: America, featuring a spectacular slideshow of the great photographer’s works. And we bring rising superstar violinist Tessa Lark to Topeka to perform Sky, a bluegrass-inspired concerto that will absolutely bring down the house. We will also feature local Topeka composer Robert Johnson’s Celebration Overture. Do not miss this amazing chance to see—and hear—America the Beautiful!


Copland — An Outdoor Overture
Dave Brubeck — Ansel Adams America
Robert L. Johnson — Celebration Overture
Michael Torke — Sky — Concerto for Violin
With Tessa Lark, Violin

The Great American Road Trip
April 4, 2020 - 7:30pm

Buckle up! We’re packin’ up and hittin’ the road as we take in the sights on our Great American Road Trip! We’ll kick things off with Michael Daugherty’s Route 66, which the composer describes as "a high-octane nostalgic musical romp from Illinois to California along America’s first intercontinental highway, as seen through my rear view mirror." Next we head to the Grand Tetons and the Snake River in Jennifer Higdon’s All Things Majestic. Finally we take a trip down the Mississippi from the headwaters all the way to New Orleans in Ferde Grofé’s Mississippi Suite. This concert will feature our Young Artist Competition Winner as soloist.


Michael Daugherty — Route 66
Jennifer Higdon — All Things Majestic
Ferde Grofé — Mississippi Suite
Young Artist Competition Winner

POPS: Star Wars
May 2, 2020 - 7:30pm

You’ve seen the Star Wars movies—now hear the music performed live! We close our season of America’s hits with the music of our favorite American film composer John Williams. Just in time for the final installment of the Star Wars saga, we present an all-Star Wars concert with music from all the movies and a celebration of the cultural significance of this story of destiny, fate, and the Force. Come in costume if you’d like, bring the whole family, and don’t miss our Star Wars party! It is your destiny!


John Williams—Music from the Star Wars saga