The German philosopher Hegel used the word Zeitgeist --which roughly translates into English as "spirit of the time"--in an effort to pin down the most significant thinking of his era. Today's spirit of the time, according to the Minnesota new-music quartet, whose members call themselves Zeitgeist, is best represented through Minimalist and New Age musics--though, of course, some might choose to challenge their assessment.
The latest installment of Monday Evening Concerts at Bing Theater, County Museum of Art, presented four Minimalist/New Age works performed by Zeitgeist: Joe Holmquist and Jay Johnson, mallet instruments, Bob Samarotto, woodwinds and Tom Linker, keyboards. The informal presentation, which found a few of the performers even cracking jokes between pieces, consisted of music that was almost exclusively tonal, melodic, repetitive and written specifically for Zeitgeist.
Terry Riley's, "In Winter They Buried the Cocktail Pianist" (1987), emerged as the best part of the evening. About 30 minutes long, this latest Riley piece makes use of syncopation, imitation and a carefully constructed chord progression throughout several different sections composed intuitively.
The program notes refer to Riley's experiences in cocktail lounges, where he sees the the piano player as ". . . a sort of medicine man at the ever present altaric piano surrounded by his boosey (sic) tribe sipping sacraments in the circle of common misery."