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Wind chimes to sing during organ donation week

By Catherine Monson '12
April 20, 2010

Transformations of Darkness and Light by Linda Tutas Haugen '76 incorporates chimes from the St. Olaf Memorial Tower.

When composer Linda Tutas Haugen ’76 first walked under the wind chimes of St. Olaf's Memorial Tower, she was struck by the special memorial to students who have passed away while enrolled at the college. At the time, she was working on a composition commissioned by the National Kidney Foundation. “I was searching for another dimension to add to the standard instrumentation of the orchestra,” she says.

Now, eight years later, the chimes will be used outside the tower for a performance of her piece, Transformations of Darkness and Light, to be played Sunday by the St. Olaf Orchestra (the concert will be streamed live and archived online). The performance will conclude Give to Life Week, a series of interdisciplinary events that aim to raise awareness about organ donation.

Twenty-one sets of chimes made by Woodstock Percussion hang in the Scandinavian-style wooden tower built in 2003. The chimes are tuned to the key of D to ring the harmonies of the hymn Beautiful Savior, and are engraved with the names of the students they commemorate, some of whom were organ donors.

“I was struggling with how to express this other-worldly part of [the piece],” says Haugen, a resident of nearby Burnsville. “I allowed myself to be open to all kinds of instrumentation.” After inquiring about the chimes, she was granted permission to use them in her piece — a crucial part to the work as a whole. “They symbolize the spirituality of the whole composition and the essence of the organ donors,” she says.

The St. Olaf Memorial Tower was built by a team of staff and faculty to honor students who have died while enrolled at the college (listen now).

In addition to St. Olaf’s chimes, several other sets from the same maker will line the aisles of Boe Memorial Chapel for the performance. Eight members from the St. Olaf community, each having a connection to organ donation or the construction of Memorial Tower, will ring the bells.

Transformations of Darkness and Light was first commissioned by the National Kidney Foundation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first successful organ transplant in 1954. It premiered in 2004 at the U.S. Transplant Games at the University of Minnesota. Haugen says the “Give to Life Week" grew out of her and Professor of Music Steven Amundson’s desire to see the piece performed at St. Olaf. “Along with that came the question, ‘what could we do to further the cause of organ and tissue donation awareness?’” she says.

The week's special events all included a chapel talk by Haugen, and will conclude with Sunday's performance by the orchestra.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or