New UW-Madison marching band director Corey Pompey keeps old traditions, introduces new changes

Corey Pompey and UW Marching Band members practice for the upcoming season.
Image By: Alyssa Hui

Author: Alyssa Hui

The new UW Marching Band Director Dr. Corey Pompey has his own vision for the band after replacing Wisconsin legend Mike Leckrone, who led the program for 50 years.

Pompey has a widespread background in music education and working with marching bands around the country, including the University of Nevada and Penn State University. 

Pompey has been asked several times what it’s been like to be the new band director after Leckrone’s leadership, and the best thing he said he can do is be himself and do what he knows how to do best.

“There is only one Mike Leckrone. I would be doing the band a disservice and myself a disservice if I tried to emulate him,” Pompey said.

According to Pompey, the traditional fifth quarter show and move “stop at the top” isn’t going anywhere; however, alumni, students, and fans will be seeing new changes, especially at the Badgers first home game this Saturday. 

“You can expect a little bit of Beyonce, The Killers, Jonas Brothers, and Adele,” Pompey said. 

As the years go on, Pompey hopes to add new tunes and elements to the fifth quarter to keep things inspiring and fresh. 

Traditional and classic pieces like “You’ve Said It All” and “Hey Baby’ will be recognized by fans at Camp Randall, but Pompey wants to incorporate different music that everyone can enjoy. 

“It’s about joining something old and something new, the idea is that we will have music that will touch everybody at some point in time,” Pompey said. 

Justine Spore, drum major and senior at UW-Madison said she’s excited to spice up the music that the band will play this season. 

Pompey has been training and rehearsing with 300 band members in the past few weeks and said the group is very hardworking. Like the football team, the band meets two times a day, if not more. 

“We’re up and down the field, ‘On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin’ probably hundreds of times,” Pompey said. “It really takes a huge amount of dedication to be able to do that all in service of perfecting the marching style and making sure that we put the best musical product out on the field that we can.” 

Paige Taft, a senior clarinet player described the past few practices as challenging but said Pompey’s leadership pushes the band forward. 

“We’ve never been this far ahead with any show ever and we have all of our music memorized, which we’ve never done before in the four years I’ve been in the band,” Taft said.

While Pompey and the band continue to prepare for the upcoming season, one thing Pompey said he isn’t prepared for is the cold Wisconsin winters. 

In the meantime, Pompey hopes to bring the best product to all the fans this season and moving forward in the years to come, but one of his main goals is to build a sense of inclusivity.

“I hope to create a sense of community, a sense of family in the band where we all are supportive of each other, come together and have a good time with the purpose of entertaining the fans,” Pompey said.

This piece was written in collaboration with The Daily Cardinal.