NEW YORK, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- A symphonic oratorio honoring thousands of Chinese workers who contributed to the completion of the transcontinental railroad in the United States 150 years ago will make its world premiere at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 1.
The oratorio, Men of Iron and the Golden Spike, by Chinese American composer Zhou Long, is set to be performed at the orchestral concert, From the Middle Kingdom to the Wild West, a highlight of the second season of the China Now Music Festival launched by the U.S.-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
"The Chinese railroad workers played a pivotal role in the westward expansion of the U.S. during the 19th century, but their labors were not widely reported and have rarely been acknowledged," said the organizer, adding that Zhou's oratorio is expected to give new voice to their epic story.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in America, a 1,912-mile (3,077 km) continuous rail line linking the eastern U.S. rail network with the Pacific coast.
Historians believed that between 12,000 and 20,000 Chinese workers were recruited to work on the railroad which later played a critical role in creating a prosperous modern America.
The musical piece was commissioned by the U.S.-China Music Institute at Bard College in partnership with the Chinese Railroad Workers of North America Project and the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University, according to the organizer.
Zhou, who won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Music, is well known for his seamless blending of Chinese and Western elements to create singularly expressive compositions. His new concerto for orchestra, Classic of Mountain and Seas, will also have its U.S. premiere on Oct. 1 at Carnegie.
Being held from Sept. 25 to Oct. 6, this year's China Now Music Festival features a series of events on both U.S. east and west coasts to demonstrate the cultural connections between the world's two largest economies.
The festival coincides with the newly-created China Day and Chinese American Heritage Week in New York State, which were announced in June by the state Senate Resolution No. J2103. The resolution recognized Oct. 1, 2019 as China Day and the first week of October 2019 as the Chinese American Heritage Week to strengthen the friendship and bilateral relationship between the State of New York and Chinese Americans.
The Bard College Conservatory of Music is recognized as one of the finest conservatories in the United States. Founded in 2005 by cellist and philosopher Robert Martin, the conservatory welcomed world-renowned Chinese musician Tan Dun as its new dean in the summer of 2019.