Category Archives: Events

Experience Handel’s “Messiah” Sunday, Dec 17th

RiverChor and Gateway Area Singers present Clinton’s annual performance of “Messiah” on Sunday, December 17 at 2:00pm at Zion Lutheran Church, 439 3rd Ave S in Clinton. Celebrating 92 years of tradition, the group will be performing much of Handel’s famous oratorio with orchestra and many local soloists. Admission is free, offerings are welcome and appreciated.

Rev. Frederick Schoenbohn with a group of singers called the Apollo Choral Society first began the annual tradition in 1931. Over the years, community singers have been directed by Jim Winn, John DeHaan, Dorothy Rathje, Mark Kapusinski, and Rob Engelson. In his third year at the baton is Karl Wolf, recently retired choir director of Clinton High School.  Christine Holmer serves as pianist, and Julie Marston heads up the orchestra.

At the tender age of 11, George Frideric Handel’s prodigious organ playing skills caught the ear of a nobleman, which changed the trajectory of his life from becoming a law student to being lauded by the likes of Mozart and Beethoven as the “greatest composer who ever lived”.  Handel began his career with operas, but turning his hand to religious oratorios allowed him greater musical freedom.  

“Messiah” was written over an astounding period of only three to four weeks, and debuted to a record crowd of 700 people in 1742.  The work is in three parts: the first detailing the prophesied birth of Jesus Christ; the second exalts His sacrifice for humankind; and the final section heralds His resurrection. Throughout his music, Handel focuses on the human response to the divine, perhaps why this work has continued to be so popular as it is performed by groups across the world for Christmas and Easter.

“Our singers from across the Gateway Area have been hard at work since October to brush up on movements that are familiar, and those we only perform in this year 3 of our cycle”, explains RiverChor manager Brooke Logan.  “We invite you to step away from the busyness of the season to enjoy this truly special experience this Sunday afternoon.”

RiverChor Announces 2023-2024 Season

RiverChor Community Choir is excited to start another season. With a theme of “Heaven, Somewhere”, the group will be working on the following pieces for their fall concert, which will be on Sunday, November 12.

At The Round Earth’s Imagined Corners – Williametta Spencer
If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments – Thomas Tallis
Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen – Johannes Brahms
Ave Verum Corpus – W. A. Mozart
Give Me Jesus – arr. Larry L. Fleming
A City Called Heaven – arr. Josephine Poelinitz
Soon Ah Will Be Done – arr. William Dawson
Ain’a That Good News – arr. William Dawson
I Hear A Voice A-Prayin’ – Houston Bright

The community is then invited to join us for the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah, this will be year 3 of our cycle, which means much of the work with orchestra. That concert will take place Sunday, December 17 at 2pm. RiverChor’s Spring concert will take place on Sunday, April 28, 2024.

The choir draws from the Gateway Area of Iowa and Illinois, including Clinton, DeWitt, Low Moor, Fulton, and Morrison. The group meets for rehearsals form 7-9pm on Monday evenings in Clinton, and will start September 11. If you are interested in joining the choir, please drop us a line via our contact form.

RiverChor presents “The Road Home

CLINTON – RiverChor presents its annual spring concert at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 30 at Zion Lutheran Church, 439 Third Ave. South. The concert is free and the public is cordially invited; collection plates will be available for donations.

The concert, entitled “The Road Home”, takes us on a number of journeys, emotional and physical.  The first two pieces explore the loss of a loved one. “David’s Lamentation,” penned by William Billings, is first presented in the tradition of Appalachian Shaped Note singing using solfege before adding the words of the piece.  Samuel Barber’s “Anthony O Daly” evokes relentless grief with its tonality, word pictures, and a continual drone of ‘Anthony’ that grows into a wail of despair.

“Regina Coeli” by W. A. Mozart is a joyous riot of runs and refrains of Alleluia borrowed from Handel’s “Messiah”.  Double quartet Shauna Tegeler, Beth Yaklich, Karil Carr, Chris Meier,
AJ Weber, Terry Winter, Jim Schitzmeyer, and Brandon Winter take the solo sections that occur throughout the piece. Pianist Chris Holmer is assisted by violinists Kristen Jones and David Rosales.

In “The Lamentations of Jeremiah” by Z. Randall Stroope, the choir explores the wide range of emotions of the prophet as he mourned, wept, and cried out loudly in sorrowful anguish at the devastation of Jerusalem and greater loss of human life.

“How Can I Keep From Singing?” by Taylor Davis rounds out the first half of the concert and looks to the hope we have through life’s tribulations.  David Rosales on violin and Kristen Jones on clarinet lend their talents to this piece.

The choir returns after intermission to the organ loft, where they will present Egil Hovland’s tone poem, “Saul”, that brings to life the events of Acts 8 and 9.  Christine Holmer will showcase Zion’s newly refurbished organ, as John Montieth narrates. “Geistliches Lied” by Johannes Brahms will also feature the organ; the gorgeous melodies exhort us to be calm, content and hopeful in faith through life’s trials.

Descending from the loft, RiverChor’s Tenor and Bass sections will bring a smile to your face with “Pirate Song” by Tim Y. Jones.  Brandon Winter heads up the scurvy crew.  

The RiverChor Soprano and Alto sections follow up with  “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie”, an arrangement by Robert Jones of a song attributed to Huddie Ledbetter.  Sara Dunne and Kristen Jones voice the call and response, while Greg Marston sets the groove on upright bass. 

The singers come together again for  “Bile Them Cabbage Down”,  a traditional folk tune arranged by Mack Wilburg.  Don’t try to make sense of the verses, just clap along with the joyous homecoming of the chorus.  Kristen Jones on fiddle sets the down-home tone, and tenor Justin Tegeler will take the helm on a couple verses.

“The Road Home”, our title piece by Stephen Paulus, invokes the wistfulness of a prodigal traveler.  Connie Swanson-DeSpain and Kristen Jones soar on the descant as we ponder the closing line of our concert, ‘There is no such beauty as where you belong, rise up, follow me, I will lead you home’.

RiverChor was established in February 2004 and draws its singers from many communities in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The group is under the direction of Karl Wolf, while Christine Holmer serves as pianist.  Concerts are presented every spring and fall. RiverChor has been the core group for the annual Messiah concerts and has been featured in concerts with the Clinton and Muscatine Symphony Orchestras.

New Music for a New Year

RiverChor will be resuming rehearsals on January 16th (want to join us? Drop us an email and we’ll have music for you!) The spring concert will be on Sunday, April 30, 2:00pm at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton. Selections to be rehearsed are as follows:

David’s Lamentation – William Billings
Anthony O’Daly – Samuel Barber
Regina Coeli (KV 276) – W. A. Mozart
The Road Home – Stephen Paulus
Lamentations of Jeremiah – Z. Randall Stroope
How Can I Keep From Singing – arr. Taylor Davis
Saul – Egil Hovland
Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren – Johannes Brahms
Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie by Lead Belly-arr. Robert Jones
Pirate Song – Tim Y. Jones
Auction Cries – John Biggs
Bile Them Cabbage Down – arr. Mack Wilberg

Messiah Celebrates 91 Years of Tradition

RiverChor and Gateway Area Singers presents Clinton’s annual performance of “Messiah” on Sunday, December 18 at 2:00pm at Zion Lutheran Church, 439 3rd Ave S in Clinton.  The group celebrates 91 years of performing Handel’s work with all of the Christmas portion, followed by several more selections concluding in a resounding “Hallelujah”!

The tradition was begun in 1931 by Rev. Frederick Schoenbohn with a group of singers called the Apollo Choral Society. Over the years, community singers have been directed by Jim Winn, John DeHaan, Dorothy Rathje, Mark Kapusinski, and Rob Engelson. This year, the baton passes to Karl Wolf, recently retired choral director of Clinton High School.  The pianist is Christine Holmer, organist at Zion Lutheran and former director of music at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

“We are excited to present “Messiah” in concert again. While we have maintained the annual tradition with Sing-Alongs, this will be the first formal “Messiah” concert presented in Clinton since 2018,” said Brooke Logan, RiverChor manager and organizer of the event.  “We have singers who are marking 50 years of participation, and some who are looking at this work for the very first time.  We invite you to take a break from your hectic holiday schedule to enjoy their efforts and the retelling of the Christmas story through song.”

Admission is free, offerings are welcome and appreciated.

If you’d like to help us spread the word, here is a link to the Facebook Event for you to share and invite others:

And we also have this printable poster….simply click the little printer icon in the top right corner of the preview box below.

Join us Sunday for “A Choral Cornucopia”, then on Monday for “Messiah” rehearsals!

RiverChor, the Gateway Area’s community choir, presents their fall concert at 2:00pm on Sunday, November 13, at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton, IA. The concert is free, donations are appreciated.

Entitled “A Choral Cornucopia”, the concert explores a wide range of choral standards from William Billings (the first American choral composer), to Mozart, Distler, Dello Joio, and Copeland. The choir will also present some fun pieces by Irving Fine, Merle Travis, and Fats Waller.

The 40 member choir is directed by Karl Wolf, the pianist is Christine Holmer. RiverChor will also be joined by the talents of violinists Julie Marston and Kristen Jones. Maureen Pollpeter will partner with Holmer on two 4-in-Hand piano pieces.

On Monday, November 14, RiverChor invites community singers to join them in rehearsals for the 91st annual “Messiah” performance. Practice will be at 7pm each Monday in the Great Hall of 1st Presbyterian Church in Clinton. The free concert will take place at 2:00 pm on Sunday, December 18 at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton.

A Choral Cornucopia – RiverChor Fall Concert

RiverChor is pleased to announce their fall concert, entitled “A Choral Cornucopia”, which will take place at 2pm on Sunday, November 13 at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton. From Billings to Mozart to Fats Waller and Copeland, there is something for everyone. Mark your calendar and spread the word, we’ll see you at the concert!

RiverChor Announces Dates for 18th Season

Mark these dates on your calendar!

Fall Concert
Sunday, November 13, 2:00pm
Zion Lutheran Church

Sunday, December 18, 2:00pm
Zion Lutheran Church

Spring Concert
Sunday, April 30, 2:00pm
Zion Lutheran Church

The choir will begin rehearsals on Monday, September 12, 7-9pm. If you are interested in joining the choir, please use the Contact Form , and we’ll provide you with more information.

Messiah is open to anyone who would like to sing, this will be Year 2 of our 3 year cycle. We will perform the majority of Part 1 and selections from Parts 2 and 3 with piano. Rehearsals will begin in mid to late November; we will announce here, in the Clinton Herald, and to our Email List, you may subscribe in the sidebar —->

We look forward to singing with or for you this upcoming 2022-2023 season!

Join us for the Messiah Sing Along!

You are invited to join a long standing Clinton tradition, the 88th annual singing of the Messiah.  This year is the Sing-Along, which is an informal event.  If you’ve ever wanted to try to sing Handel’s work, or enjoy a unique opportunity to sit inside a choir, please join us on Sunday, December 1, at 3:00 pm at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton, please enter via the East door to the sanctuary. 

You are welcome to bring your own copy of the score, or borrow one of ours.  We will sing all the choruses from Part 1, take a few requests for choruses from Parts II and III, then finish with Hallelujah.  The event is directed by Chris Marple, our pianist is Christine Holmer. 

The Messiah Sing-Along is free.  Come as you are, bring a friend or two, and plan to have a joyous time singing!