Pieces of Eight



Composer(s) / Arranger(s): Gary P. Gilroy

Performance Time: 4:48  |  Grade: 4  |  Style: Contemporary

"Pieces of Eight was commissioned by Band Parents Bret and Lori Niedens, in commemoration of their family’s 18-year relationship with Mr. Kelly Berdahl, Director of Bands at Bozeman High School, in Bozeman, Montana. Mr. Berdahl mentored their eight children during their time involved with the BHS Marching Band: Tera (Clarinet), Rae Ann (Violin/Color Guard), Kent (Oboe/Cymbals/Pit Percussion), Amy (Flute/Color Guard), Keri (Low Brass), James (Trumpet), Sierra (French Horn/Mellophone) and Tiffany (Bari Saxophone/Drum Major). The Niedens have been witness to and extremely grateful for the profound impact the Marching Band experience had on their children, who are all now young adults. Pieces of Eight was premiered on Thursday, May 27, 2021, by the Bozeman High School Band with Director of Bands, Mr. Kelly Berdahl conducting.

Fully appreciating the importance of parent volunteers in a successful band program, the Niedens wrote:
We also wish to honor ALL of the marching band parents who volunteered time and resources by chaperoning, providing or serving food, schlepping equipment and back drops, and experiencing the oblivious wonderment of all the students over all the years.

The Niedens’ involvement with the Bozeman High School Marching Band began with a few years of assisting in the construction of field show props and equipment transport. They soon realized there was a need for feeding the band on competition trips to avoid expensive restaurant charges. They spearheaded this endeavor and ultimately spawned a massive culinary operation resulting in their almost single-handedly providing the 125-person marching band entourage six meals over weekend trips, which they continued for over a decade, effectively becoming the “ultimate band parents”!

When the Niedens family first became involved with the BHS Band program, their youngest, Tiffany, was only two years old. Pieces of Eight was commissioned with the intent of being performed by the Bozeman High School Symphony Band, on her final high school band concert, May 27, 2021, memorably closing the chapter on the eighteen-year era of the Niedens family with the BHS Bands.

The composer felt a close association with the Niedens family, Mr. Berdahl and the Bozeman High School Band. Dr. Gilroy first knew Kelly Berdahl in his first job as Director of Bands at East Bakersfield High School in Bakersfield, California. They developed a long-standing friendship over the years. Growing up in a family of eight children was nothing new to Dr. Gilroy. He relates quite well to the Niedens family having been raised in his own family of eight children. On several occasions over the years, Dr. Gilroy has served as a Guest Conductor for the Bozeman High School Band and various honor bands in the Montana area. He has nothing but fond memories of the Bozeman High School band room and concert hall.

Composer Gary P. Gilroy states:
Writing this work for the Niedens family was really special for me since I grew up in a similar situation. I know what it is like to stuff a family of ten into a station wagon! There were certainly some challenges along the way but also many wonderful advantages to sharing one’s home with such a large gang.

Somewhere in my high school days I realized how special the number eight was. It seemed like so many fragments of music were in sets of 8 counts and so many phrases were combinations of eight beats and/or eight measures. And then, of course, as a young high school marching band student, we were taught how important “8 to 5” was marching eight even steps of 22 ½ inches to cover five yards. It seemed to me that all of music was related to the number eight!
This composition came together quite naturally much in thanks to constantly dealing with the number 8. I made one reference after another to the number eight when dealing with rhythms, note sets, scalar passages and even harmonies through various clusters of eight pitches.
The work begins with eight counts of 16th notes from the marimba establishing the key of Bb. Muted trumpets are layered on top of the continuing marimba ostinato presenting their own short eight-note fragment. Percussionists respond to the trumpets with their own eight-note fragment. Various winds and orchestra bells follow with a descending eight-note scalar cluster of harmony. And so it goes. There are few phrases, if any, that don’t have some connection to the number eight.

A special nod to the Montana All-State Honor Band Student, Tiffany Niedens, comes in measure 91 in the form of a Baritone Saxophone solo. This solo was first performed by Miss Niedens at the premiere in the Spring of 2021. "

*Please make a selection.


*Please make a selection.

Music Options

*Please make a selection.

Tools for Success

*Please make a selection.