This weekend, Becky and I went to Topeka, Kansas to take care of some personal business and made a mini-vacation out of it. If you haven’t been to Topeka, you’re missing out! We had never been there before, but we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. In fact, I’ve decided that Kansas gets a bum rap.
We had an appointment in downtown Topeka, which was a little desolate, but on the whole very respectable for a state capital. The statehouse is a big building–unfortunately, no time to go in, but it looked interesting.
Our next stop was an hour up the road in Manhattan, Kansas, the Little Apple. To get there, we drove through the Flint Hills region in the late afternoon. If you think Kansas is flat and boring, you haven’t seen this terrain–unlike anything back in Ohio. It rolls and heaves, and there is even a scenic overlook on the road into Manhattan. After our appointment, we wandered around town, which is home to Kansas State University. If Craig Weston ever leaves his job teaching composition at Kansas State, I will be putting in my application. Having spent both grad school and undergrad at big, public universities, K-State felt like home. A used bookstore complete with cat where I picked up a couple of scores (Purcell and Britten) for a song. The pep band was strolling around the commercial district getting everyone (except us) ready for the game tomorrow. We left before the drinking got going, since that’s not really our thing, and since we had left Guymon at six a.m.
A nice night at the Country Inn and Suites in Topeka on Wanamaker Road. I recommend it to anyone who can afford to not stay at the Motel 6. Saturday was our first “fun” day, and Topeka showed off for us. The city is clean, easy to get around and generally very friendly. The Zoo, in Gage Park, was great–we were charged by the black leopard and you can get really close to most of the animals. Lunch was at Glory Days Pizza, touted as the best in town, and for a couple of Donatos-deprived Columbusites, much appreciated. The cheese was baked on over the toppings, and the sauce was excellent. Becky is a pepperoni purist, which works for me.
Then in the evening came the highlight of the trip, for me. We happened to be in town on a weekend when the Topeka Symphony Orchestra performed at its home at Washburn University. The campus there is beautiful, and the hall wonderful. The orchestra was fantastic–we talked to a cellist, and apparently, they get about six rehearsals for every concert. We saw Beethoven, a Mozart horn concerto and Brahms’ second symphony. Not a flawless performance, but a stirring one, all the same. There were some sour moments in intonation, but the energy was right. I wouldn’t complain about being able to subscribe to their season.
The concertmistress and the principal cello are married, both on faculty at Washburn and are a duo together–the Elaris Duo. I picked up their CD after concert and WOW! A great CD all around–such fantastic tone and blend. The highlight of the disc for me is the Kodaly. I asked them if they had ever done the Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello, and they said they are considering it for their next recording. A couple of dream performers to add to my list! It makes a composer want to tackle that medium.