We asked each of our writers to cast their thoughts as “bravos” and “boos.” As you’ll see, some of them found it easier to do than others. Be that as it may, we proudly present essays by Ken Herman, Kris Eitland, Bill Eadie, David Dixon, Martin Jones Westlin, and Welton Jones.

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A late medieval meditation on life’s fragility, called the Dance of Death, stimulated the imagination of painters more than musicians. It was such a gloriously macabre 15th-century painting in Lübeck, Germany, by Bernt Notke—Death summoning folks from every station and walk of life—that inspired Hugo Distler’s 1934 choral work Totentanz (Dance of Death). Ruben Valenzuela’s…

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