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Local choir will perform at bridge memorial

It's taken a lot of work and caused more than its share of anxiety, but when people gather Friday afternoon to mark the first anniversary of the collapse of the 35W bridge Rosemount will be well represented.

The choir that will perform today in a ceremony near the site of the bridge collapse did not exist in any official form before July 24. But when the event's organizers called St. Joseph Catholic Church last week church choir director Liz Adams and Rosemount High School choir director Gina Toso jumped into action. Through e-mails sent out to RHS band and choir members, a page on social networking site Facebook and word of mouth they have built a choir that could include more than 50 people by the time the performance rolls around.

Throw in the possibility of national media coverage and things have been a little hectic.

"It's been exciting," Toso said.

According to Toso, St. Joseph's invitation to the ceremony had its roots in the weeks immediately after the collapse last Aug. 1. Rosemount resident and St. Joseph member Peter Hausmann died in the collapse, and a choir made up of RHS students and church members performed at his funeral. Someone involved in planning this week's event saw that performance and remembered the church when it came time to find performers.

The Rosemount choir will be part of an hour of music and dance from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The choir has been given a slot from 4:37 to 4:47. Choir members will perform the Josh Groban song "To Where You Are," which the choir sang at Hausmann's funeral, and The Irish Blessing, a fixture at RHS graduation ceremonies. They will also perform a simple acapella song called Don't Be Afraid.

Trusting that everyone will be ready to sing Friday takes a certain amount of faith. There has been time for just two rehearsals, and there was not a full choir on hand for the first. Toso said about 25 people attended a rehearsal July 27 and word of the concert continued to spread after that, drawing more participants. The second rehearsal was July 31, after this issue of the Town Pages went to print.

Some of the people who have signed on are choir members. Others are members of the Irish band. Toso said students who graduated from RHS five years ago are coming back to perform. Some might not have had a chance to learn any of the songs until Thursday.

Still, Toso is enthusiastic about the opportunity.

"It's been really kind of a neat thing that's happened," Toso said. "We put a Facebook event out there because that's what the kids are connecting with the most and it's been great. Every couple hours I can go and see who's coming and who's not and who's maybe coming."

Toso called the choir performance a chance to give back to the community.

"It's been exciting ... just to see the outpouring of dedication to the church and to the high school from the people who are participating. The kids are really excited about being part of this."

The memorial ceremony will begin at 4:30 p.m. at Gold Medal Park, 10th Avenue and Second Street in downtown Minneapolis.