How Corey Pompey became UW-Madison’s new band director

Every band has a leader. For the first time in five decades, there is a new director at the helm of the University of Wisconsin Marching Band.

Corey Pompey took over the podium from his legendary predecessor, Mike Leckrone. “I will confess, when Mike announced his retirement, I thought to myself, ‘Good luck to that next person,” Pompey said. “Whoever takes that job, bless you. Have a good time. I’m not going anywhere near that. I’m happy where I am, I love my job and that’s that. Well, a phone call started a process that led me here.”

Pompey was working at the University of Nevada-Reno when word spread quickly that Leckrone was retiring. “The phone rang,” Pompey said. “The person on the phone introduced himself to me and told me why he was calling. I was a bit flabbergasted. My first thought was, ‘Thank you for calling. I’m honored, but I’m not going to Wisconsin.'”

It took several weeks before Pompey decided to apply for the job. “The determining factor in my decision is the legacy that is the Wisconsin band,” Pompey said. “Then, there is the institution of the University of Wisconsin and all that means when it comes to academic standards and the kind of students we have here. All of those things contributed to my decision to apply for the job.”

Pompey, 37, was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He has a widespread background in music education.

Pompey completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees back to back at the University of Alabama. Pompey earned a doctor of music arts degree from the University of Texas-Austin and served as the assistant director of bands at Penn State.

Pompey’s Badgers debut involved directing five home football games in a row.

“My goal is for the Wisconsin Marching Band to stay the Wisconsin Marching Band,” Pompey said. “My hope is that when people see the band, they recognize it as the band they’ve known and loved all these years. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel and I’m not necessarily looking to take anything away. If we can add something or, if we can enhance something and expand what we’re able to do, we’d love to do that.”

Pompey will direct his first Varsity Spring Band Concert in April. “We’re still working on the nuts and bolts. We haven’t even gotten to issues of creativity yet,” Pompey said. “The only thing that I can tell you with certainty when it comes to the Spring Concert is you won’t see me doing somersaults over the audience. That’s the only thing I can guarantee.”

2019 has been a monumental year for Pompey in another way. He got married in May and moved to Madison with his wife, Rachelle, in July.

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