CLINTON — For the first time in its 11-year history, RiverChor will perform a Bach cantata during its spring concert.

The performance will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton. The concert is free. Donation plates will be provided for contributions.

The Bach cantata, “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death), BWV 4, was written in 1707. It is a chorale cantata, which means that each of its seven movements contains the chorale melody. 

The work will be accompanied by a string orchestra made up of musicians from Clinton High School and the Clinton Symphony Orchestra.

RiverChor conductor Rob Engelson said the group has performed several large works, but never a Bach cantata.

“It’s been a challenge, but the effort was well worth it,” Engelson said. “Bach’s choral music is some of the most inspirational ever written.”

The new work is an arrangement for women’s chorus of “Er, der Herrlichste von allen” (He, the Most Glorious of All), the second song in Robert Schumann’s song cycle, “Frauenliebe und –leben” (A Woman’s Love and Life). The arrangement is by Thea Engelson, co-founder of RiverChor and an adjunct professor of music at Ashford University and St. Ambrose University.

Also included on the concert is a set of songs about sailors and the girls they left behind, including George Gershwin’s “The Jolly Tar and the Milkmaid;” works for men’s chorus and women’s chorus; and a set of spirituals, including an almost century-old work by the prominent African-American composer R. Nathaniel Dett entitled “I’ll Never Turn Back No More.”

RiverChor was established in 2004 as a replacement concert on Zion Lutheran’s concert series. 

It has performed regularly with the Clinton Symphony Orchestra on its’ subscription concerts. It also presents regular concerts each fall and spring and makes occasional guest appearances throughout the community as well.