Evanston Symphony to perform Zhou Tian’s “Transcend,” written to commemorate 1869 completion of transcontinental railroad

Posted on: May 10, 2022

“Chinese-American composer Zhou Tian’s father was a composer but didn’t encourage his musically talented son to follow in his career path,” writes Les Jacobson in Sunday’s (5/8) Evanston Roundtable (Evanston, IL). “ ‘He knew it wasn’t easy,’ says Zhou Tian. ‘But when I visited his studio I was struck by the excitement and immediacy of music making.’ ” On May 22, “the Evanston Symphony Orchestra performs Transcend, Zhou’s recent three-movement work. The piece was commissioned in 2019 by the Reno Philharmonic to commemorate the symphony’s 50th year and 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Ultimately, 12 other orchestras nationwide formed a consortium to underwrite and perform the composition, including the ESO. To help with the composition, Zhou embarked on a one-year, cross-country trip to visit sites connected with the railroad’s history…. [At the] Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska … he discovered an obscure fact that turned out to be critical in the composition of the piece … ‘D-O-N-E,’ the one-word morse code sent on May 10, 1869, signifying the railroad’s completion, the rhythmic motif of which forms the basis of the [third] movement…. ‘I’m ecstatic to be performing it,’ said ESO Music Director Lawrence Eckerling.”