Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Justin Merritt describes River of Blood as being inspired by the 1980 massacre in El Salvador. But it would demand an audience’s attention even if they were unaware of that. Merritt seems to have the strongest sense of dynamics of any of the seven composers, most notably when a storm of percussion gives way to a sorrowful solo viola. For singularity of style, Merritt’s piece was the standout.