It’s premiere weekend for the Omaha Symphony.

In the season’s first MasterWorks concert, the orchestra will perform two works never done in Omaha, book-ended by two popular and enduring pieces, Antonin Dvorák’s “New World” and Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.”

One of the new works, Zhou Tian’s “Transcend,” was co-commissioned by the Omaha Symphony with 12 other groups, including the Reno (Nevada) Philharmonic and the Utah Symphony, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. It pays homage to the thousands of workers who completed the railroad, making it possible to travel across the developing country. Many of those workers were immigrants from Zhou’s Chinese homeland.

Movements in “Transcend” evoke the calm of the American desert, melodies that are reminiscent of Chinese folk music and, finally, the rhythm of the Morse Code for the word “done,” which was telegraphed around the world to announce the driving of the Golden Spike.

Zhou was inspired to write the last movement after he researched the railroad’s completion at the Durham Museum. The piece premiered in Reno earlier this year.

The other piece making its Omaha debut is David Dzubay’s “Ra!,” written for winds.

Dvorák, from Czechoslovakia, wrote his Symphony No. 9, subtitled “New World,” when he lived in America between 1892 and 1895, spending part of the time in an Iowa immigrant community. His inspiration came from the prairie and from black spirituals and Native American melodies.

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Holland Center, 1200 Douglas St. Tickets range from $19 to $75 and are available at omahasymphony.org or 402-345-0606.

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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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