American Orchestras – Sound Tracks
When it opened in 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad linked the United States as never before. To mark the 150th anniversary of the massive infrastructure project, thirteen orchestras along the route have joined forces to commission Zhou Tian’s Transcend, which evokes the railroad’s
construction, the natural landscape, the plight of migrant railroad builders, and the opening of the West. Orchestras are not only performing the score, they are examining their own communities’ histories and connections.
The Reno Philharmonic was looking for a way to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019 with a commission, when the orchestra realized it coincided with another major anniversary: the sesquicentennial of the completion of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. “We just got
more and more excited when we realized how seminal the Transcontinental Railroad was to our community,” recalls Tim Young, president and CEO of the Reno Philharmonic. “I think many people here don’t realize that Reno only exists because of the Transcontinental Railroad. Charles
Crocker [one of the four founders of the Central Pacific Railroad] stood outside what became the city and pulled the name out of a hat. The name was Jesse Lee Reno. And Crocker said, ‘Okay, this town is going to be named Reno.’ The next day the lots went on sale, and that’s how the town began in 1868.”