The mission of the Topeka Symphony Society is to encourage and cultivate appreciation and support for fine music in northeast Kansas by presenting performances of high quality and by providing educational and performance opportunities for youth.
The Topeka Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1946 by Dr. Everett Fetter, Chairman of the Department of Music at Washburn University. It originated under the name of the Topeka Civic Symphony, and in 1980, officially became the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. Under the direction of Dr. John Strickler, the Symphony has come to host a full seven-concert series, including classical, pops, holiday, and educational concerts. These developments have helped the Symphony to become an integral part of the Topeka community.
The Orchestra has a history of excellent conductors. Dr. Fetter, known to be an outstanding musician, made contributions to the Symphony which have remained a legacy. When he retired in 1976, Jack Herriman became Conductor, leading the Symphony through twelve successful seasons. In 1989, after a year-long, nationwide search of more than ninety applicants, Dr. John Strickler was named the Topeka Symphony's first full time Music Director, Conductor, and Manager.
Since Dr. Strickler assumed leadership of the Symphony, the organization has grown tremendously. The Symphony has achieved a high level of excellence and distinction, prompting the press to call performances "inspired" and "superb." The Symphony has commissioned two works and has performed five world premieres as well as several U.S. premieres. Seasons are highlighted by world-renowned class artists such as Dave Brubeck, Andre Watts, Itzhak Perlman, Frederica von Stade and the Canadian Brass. Guest artists regularly present in-school demonstrations and master classes to help music students improve their skills.
Community support has grown and the Topeka Symphony has earned a reputation as one of Topeka's greatest cultural assets. Today TSO is administered by three full- time staff members. The Topeka Symphony continuously expands and intensifies its role through the efforts of the musicians, the Board of Directors, the staff, Dr. Strickler, and volunteers.