Pleasanton Portraits



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

Performance Time: 8:59  |  Grade: 3 1/2  |  Style: Contemporary, Western

Pleasanton Portraits was commissioned by the Pleasanton Community Concert Band to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the band and to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Pleasanton, California. Horace Robert Williams was the Director of the Pleasanton Community Concert Band at the time of the commission.  Lee Carpenter, Assistant Director of the band, worked closely with the composer, Gary P. Gilroy, to coordinate all aspects of the new composition. 

The town of Pleasanton, California was originally inhabited by the Pelnen tribe, a Native people speaking Chochenyo.  Through the years the area has seen tremendous transformation to become the bustling city it is today.  To prepare for the task of writing this composition, composer Gary P. Gilroy was fortunate to interact with the Executive Director of Pleasanton’s Museum on Main, Jim DeMersman.  The information obtained was most helpful in guiding Gilroy’s artistic inspirations to generate a series of snapshots or portraits depicting certain points in the history of this All-American city.  While there are certainly many more historical  topics that represent the history of this great city, Dr. Gilroy found several areas that seemed to reach out and connect with him to create this musical montage. 

The opening bars, the Pelnan Tribe, pay homage to the original inhabitants tribe and other Native American people who were among the first to call this area their home.  When listening closely, the audience should be able to hear tumbleweeds blowing across the open lands.  A series of contemporary percussive effects are meant to recreate the eerie sounds of the large steel wheels of a railroad car as it is slowly set in motion.  This introductory material gives way to a bustling and energetic railroad tune representing the coming of the railroad.  In 1869 the Southern Pacific line opened in Pleasanton and from 1870 to 1890 the town’s population more than tripled from 350 people to more than a thousand.  Like so many towns throughout the west, the railroad really put Pleasanton on the map.  Borrowing a title from one of the Museum on Main’s exhibits, composer Gary P. Gilroy subtitles this section of composition the Coming of the Railroad.
To provide some contrast, Gilroy next added a beautiful lyric portrait that features a challenging euphonium solo.  The smooth and flowing lines are meant to take the listener to a more calm and almost lonely time in Pleasanton’s history, a time when there were vast open spaces and far fewer people than the area knows today.  This section of the work has been subtitled the Lonely Valley.

One of the fascinating things Dr. Gilroy learned in researching the town of Pleasanton had to do with the area’s historical connection with hops, one of the main ingredients in beer.  As a young band director, Gilroy started his career teaching at Moreau High School in Hayward, California, just over the hill from Pleasanton in the bay area.  While dating his wife, Dena, of Modesto, California, Gilroy drove through the town of Pleasanton at least once a week during those early 1980’s.  He remembers taking the “Hopyard Road” exit off Interstate 580 on many occasions to eat at one of the restaurants.  He had no idea that the road was named for the plentiful fields of hops grown in Pleasanton in the late 1800’s and he was quite fascinated to learn this.  Subtitled, Enjoying the Hops, the next section of the composition creates a lively celebration of light-hearted music meant to serve as a soundtrack for a festive celebration where the beer is flowing and bodies jitter and boogie into the wee hours of the night.

All of this celebrating gives way to the final segment of Gilroy’s series of portraits as he pay homage to city’s early involvement in the movie industry when films were still referred to as “moving pictures.”  Silent films from the early 1900’s were shot in and around the city of Pleasanton.  The city played an important role in many early feature films staring the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.  Gilroy calls this final section of the composition Pleasanton Goes To The Movies.  The music here is both glamorous and boisterous and serves well as the closing material for this series of musical portraits from the early years of Pleasanton.

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