Invocation and Remembrance

The Composer's Datebook from American Public Media
Saturday, August 1, 2020

At 6:05 p.m. on today’s date in 2007, the Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, plunging dozens of cars and trucks into the Mississippi River. Thirteen people died. Investigators said a design flaw was to blame, and the event served as a wake-up call about America’s crumbling infrastructure.

It also inspired a new piece of music.

In 2007 Minnesota composer Linda Tutas Haugen had been commissioned to write a piece for solo instrument and organ for performance at the next American Guild of Organists’ national convention. Haugen had been looking at various hymn tunes for inspiration when the I-35 bridge collapsed.

As she recalled, “I had family members who’d been over the bridge a day before. Many were feeling, ‘It could have been me.’ I reread texts of the hymns I had been considering, and there was one that talks about ‘God of hill and plain, o’er which our traffic runs’ and ‘wherever God your people go, protect them by your guarding hand.’ That inspired my writing.”

Haugen scored her new piece for trumpet and organ and titled it “Invocation and Remembrance.” “For me,” said Haugen, “it’s a prayer, an invocation for protection, and also a remembrance of what happened.”