2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad across the U.S. From 1862-1869 some 20,000 Chinese laborers built the rail line, enduring terrible, extreme weather and brutal working conditions. In commemoration, the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University and the US-China Music Institute of the Bard College Conservatory of Music collaborated on a Symphonic Oratorio with the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University to shed light on the laborers that made the railroad possible.
The piece entails a mixed chorus, full orchestra and Chinese traditional instruments. The production originated with the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University and Jindong Cai in 2012. Music is by Pulitzer prize-winning composer Zhou Long, with lyrics by Su Wei. Artists include Bard College’s The Orchestra Now, the Silicon Valley chorale and soloists.