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Bands combine for historic concert
Hutchinson Community College Band Director Eric Stambaugh, left, is shown with Sterling College Band Director Larry Brownlee.
Larry Brownlee directs the combined Hutchinson Community College and Sterling College Bands last week at Hutchinson.

STERLING — Together they have over 70 years of experience between them. They have amassed numerous accolades and awards through their high school careers. Now, both have left the high school world to join the collegiate world. They are band directors extraordinaire Larry Brownlee and Eric Stambaugh, who currently serve as band directors at Sterling College and Hutchinson Community College, respectively. 

Together they will direct a history making combination concert of bands from Sterling College and Hutchinson Community College. After their first combined concert in Hutchinson last week, the two bands will again combine for a performance at 3 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 30 in Culbertson Auditorium on the Sterling College campus.

The title of their combined concert is “Songs That Go Bump in the Night” and is built around a Halloween theme.

 The combined concert idea came to Brownlee, who directed the Sterling High School Band for 33 years before coming to Sterling College in 2018. Stambaugh served as band director at Buhler High School for 18 before becoming director at Hutchinson Community College this year.

“I have known Eric for many years when he was the director at Buhler High School,” Brownlee said. “I have always been impressed with his bands and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something together.”   

Sterling High School Band, under the direction of Brownlee, earned over 25 I ratings at State Band Festivals and his students easily earned over 1,000 medals for I ratings at State Solo/Ensemble festivals through the years. His Sterling High bands were selected to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) conference 12 times and won the Sweepstakes Award at the Worlds of Fun Band Festivals three times. The program was also recognized with the Grammy Signature Award for excellence in music education.  

Under Brownlee’s direction, the Sterling College Band has grown from nine players to 26 currently. He adds that he has several commitments for next year and is continuing to work with more students. “I want to continue to see the band grow so we can do more and more,” he said. 

Stambaugh is in his 24th year of teaching and first year directing Hutchinson Community College. Prior to his appointment at the college he was director of Bands at Buhler High School for 18 years. Under his direction, his bands were selected twice for the KMEA state convention and his marching bands won numerous marching band championships at the University of Kansas, KBA, Shawnee Mission, and the University of Central Missouri. Stambaugh has won the Kansas Band Association “Outstanding Young Band Director Award.” SCKMEA Outstanding Director and was Semifinalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year.   

“Eric’s Buhler marching band program was an elite group and always finished at the top of State and Regional marching band festivals,” Brownlee said. Now both Brownlee and Stambaugh are continuing their musical passions, influence, and efforts at the collegiate level. 

“This joint concert is exciting for us, and I think it will be for our audiences, too,” Brownlee said. “This allows both ensembles to fill out their instrumentation. Some instruments we are short on, HCC has. Some that they don’t have, we do. It will also double the size of our ensembles, which will make for a big, full sound and a great experience for both groups and our audiences.”

“This will truly be a combined concert,” Brownlee said. “Both bands will present all the pieces together. Every song will be performed by the one combined band.” Brownlee and Stambaugh will share directing responsibilities. 

The Sterling College Jazz Band will also be featured in the concert. They will be playing “Frankenstein,” an early ’70s rock song by the Edgar Winter Group. Sterling College music student Zion Bacci will provide vocals for the jazz band performance of the ever-popular standard “Mack the Knife” from Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera.

There is no admission charge for the Sterling performance on October 30. The performance will also be livestreamed on the Sterling College arts page on the college website –