Press Release: Omaha Symphony opens 99th season with an Omaha co-commission premiere and a tribute to the New World


Program includes

  • Rossini’s Overture to William Tell
  • David Dzubay’s Ra! (Omaha premiere)
  • Zhou Tian’s Transcend (Omaha Symphony Co-Commission and Omaha premiere)
  • Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9

OMAHA, Neb., Sept. 13, 2019- The Omaha Symphony will kick off its 99th season with music celebrating the American spirit in Dvořák’s New World, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20 and 21, 7:30 p.m., at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

Led by Music Director Thomas Wilkins, the program includes Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, subtitled “New World,” as well as Grammy-nominated composer Zhou Tian’s Transcend, co-commissioned by the Omaha Symphony and 13 other orchestras and dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Rossini’s William Tell Overture and David Dzubay’s Ra! round out the concert program.

Czech-born composer Antonin Dvořák spent three years in the United States between 1892 and 1895, dividing his time between New York and a small community of Czech immigrants in Iowa. Out of this time period, he composed his ninth symphony, “From the New World,” inspired by the American music Dvořák heard, including Negro and Native American melodies and spirituals, as well as the American prairie’s wide-open spaces. This celebration of Americana proved to be Dvořák’s most popular symphony, and it is frequently performed today. The theme from the New World’s Largo was adapted into the spiritual-like song “Goin’ Home,” by Dvořák’s pupil, William Arms Fisher, and has subsequently been mistaken for a traditional Negro spiritual. The song was performed at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s funeral in 1945.

Co-commissioned by 13 U.S. orchestras, including the Omaha Symphony, the Reno Philharmonic, and the Utah Symphony, Zhou Tian’s Transcend celebrates the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Zhou, a native of China, pays homage to the thousands of workers, many of them migrants from China, who labored to complete the railroad that opened up the western United States for settlement. Transcend unfolds in three movements, with the first, “Pulse,” evoking the stillness of the American desert and plains, at length bringing barrages of percussion to imitate the “man-versus-nature” of human striving and industry. The middle movement, “Promise,” pays tribute to the Chinese workers with soft melodies that evoke Chinese folk music, and the final movement, “D-O-N-E,” features the rhythm of the Morse Code for the word “done,” which was the telegraph sent round the world to announce the driving of the Golden Spike. Zhou said he was inspired to write the movement after hearing the story at Omaha’s Durham Museum while he researched the composition’s roots.

Transcend premiered with the Reno Philharmonic in April 2019, and will make its Omaha debut on this program.

Tickets to Dvořák’s New World start at $19. They can be purchased by visiting or by calling Ticket Omaha at 402.345.0606. Student Rush tickets are available one hour prior to the concert. Any student with a valid student ID may purchase up to two Student Rush tickets for $10 each.

The Omaha Symphony MasterWorks series is sponsored by Omaha Steaks.

Artists, dates, time, prices and availability are subject to change.

The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to MasterWorks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 40,000 people each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402-345-0606 or


Media Contact:

Stephanie Ludwig

Public Relations Manager

Office 402.661.8587

Cell 405.350.4071