Ballet dancers Hannah Brennan, Kaleigh De la Cruz, Delaney Haas, Maura Haas, Britt Hoover, Gabriella Lujan, Kate Moorhouse, Jordan Novy, Julia Novy, and Isa Sanchez from Chicago’s Dance & Music Academy join the City Wide Symphony Orchestra in a special performance of Eduard Strauss’ “Bahn Frei” (Clear Track) Polka – with choreography by Krissie Odegard Geye.
By the time Bahn Frei was composed in 1865 railroads had crisscrossed much of Europe and the United States, Chicago’s George Pullman was introducing his new sleeper car, and Chicago was well on it’s way to becoming the undisputed railroad center of North America. The railroads afforded a new commerce and passenger travel that profoundly affected the lives of everyone touched by them.
From the rhythms of the opening bars and the whistle pitches of the flutes and piccolo there is little question that Bahn Frei is about steam locomotives and railroads. Subtitled a “polka schnell”, the tempo and orchestral characteristics exhibit playfulness and exhilaration, and its melodies are vibrant and colorful. The mood is ecstatic and festive, and no doubt offers a glimpse of what it was like to travel at high speeds for the first time.
In 1892 Chicago’s first elevated train was powered by a steam locomotive and ran from Van Buren to 39th Street, and shortly was extended to Jackson Park for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Some of the same route exists today and is known as the Green Line. In 2005 Chicago Tribune readers voted Chicago’s “L” rail transit system one of the “seven wonders of Chicago”. CTA’s 1,356 rail cars operate over 224.1 miles of track making 2,250 trips each day and annually provide 229.12 million rides.
Chicago’s Dance & Music Academy and the City Wide Symphony Orchestra celebrate Chicago’s rich railroad history and its future to the music of Eduard Strauss – Bahn Frei! (Clear the tracks).