Parkland Concert Band

The Parkland Community Concert Band prepares for its 50th anniversary concert on Thursday night, March 5, 2020, in Champaign.

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CHAMPAIGN — For months, director Larry Stoner has been hard at work planning the Parkland College Concert Band’s 50th anniversary concert, which takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s taken a lot of effort and time to put the stuff together,” Stoner said. “Fortunately, they didn’t trust me to do all of it. ... Hopefully, there will be a lot of people who have participated in the past who might come back and reacquaint themselves with some of the folks who are in the ensemble now. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The band began meeting in 1970 in the basement of First Methodist Church in downtown Champaign with only 12 members. Within six weeks, it had doubled in size and held its first concert on March 3 of that year.

By 2001, the band had 117 members. The current iteration that will perform on Sunday includes 65 members.

“It’s a well-rounded, pretty experienced group,” Stoner said.

The majority of the band is made up of non-students, but students can join for credit.

Sunday’s concert will provide a twist. Former directors Erwin Hoffman, who led the band from 1971-96, and Gregory Grove, who directed from 2001-05, will direct portions of the concert, as will Illinois marching band Director Barry Houser.

“I think any time you have something that’s been as stable and has created so much pleasure in the community, it’s something that needs to be recognized,” Stoner said. “It’s not often that you have a volunteer organization that’s been around for that many years.

“And the thread that binds us all together is our love of music and our love of performing. I think that’s really important in the world today.”