Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Levi Gillis - April 3rd


For this installment of the Racer Sessions I will present a piece I wrote for a new group, the Sequoia Ensemble, entitled “Suite for Bosnia and Croatia” based on my experiences during a trip with my family through Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina last summer. The music is an expression of the moods and images I felt and saw during my stay there.

Both countries are places of immense natural beauty. The Bosnian vaulting mountains are covered in lush, green foliage scattered in between sheer rock faces. On the Croatian coast the glistening, clear ocean meets rolling, vibrant hills. While much of the region seems to have largely avoided the impact of human inhabitation, there are certain areas in which man’s interactions with the landscape are readily apparent. While driving though the each country, there was a constant ebb and flow of man’s presence within the beautiful scenery, at times an integral part of the nature, at others, completely absent.

My piece is mainly about the natural landscape of these countries and man’s interaction with it, be it destructive or supportive. The mixture of these two elements creates a kind of layered scene, with nature present underneath, supporting man’s activities above. 

After finishing the piece and examining it, I realized that I composed it mainly with the idea of layers in mind. Different groupings of instruments play in a sonic “territory” that informs the other sonic “territories,” creating a larger cohesive musical idea.

For the improv, I would like to focus on the idea of layering. This can be textural or melodic etc. but people should try to think about their own playing as one layer in the overall texture of improvisation.  Another possibility is to have several duos or trios, each with their individual texture so that multiple people are working together to create a single layer, which serves as a single part of the whole improvisation. 


Seqouia Ensemble personnel: Miriam Champer-clarinet, Chris Lewis-Trumpet, Nick Rogstad-Trombone, Steven Bell-Vibraphone, Natalie Hall-cello, Abbey Blackwell-Bass, Jarred Katz-drums.


I. Prelude

II. Sarajevo

*a Bosnian city nestled into a beautiful valley. Its know for the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The seige lasted almost four years, during which the Serbs blockaded and assaulted the city from the surrounding hills with sniper rifles, mortars and the like.

III. Plitviche

*a Croatian national park of astounding beauty with a river running through the entire park.

IV. The Water Organs of Zadar

*water organs are built into the side of the boardwalk so that when waves wash up against it, pitches are produced.

V. The Storm

*in the last part of our trip we witnessed an impressive thunder storm in the northern part of Croatia.