MADISON, Wis. - After five decades of the legendary Mike Leckrone directing UW-Madison's marching band, there's a new director coming to town. His name is Corey Pompey.
In a video announcing his new position, Pompey said he's looking forward to working with the well-known marching band.
"He's just a wonderful, wonderful musician," said Susan Cook, the director of the Mead Witter School of Music. Cook said hiring Corey was the "clear choice" and a "unanimous decision."
Pompey was up against 26 other candidates. Some had extensive music backgrounds, while others had built music programs from the ground up at colleges around the nation. But band members who were part of the interview process said Pompey rose to the top.
"Corey Pompey was definitely the favorite among students and the faculty," said junior trumpet player Anna Musarra.
Musarra said his musicality, efficiency with time during rehearsals, knowledge of music, interest in honoring tradition and bringing new ideas is what made the decision so easy.
I sat down with #UWMadison 's Director of the School of Music to talk about the decision behind hiring Corey Pompey as the new band director. She said the decision was a clear and unanimous choice. #News3Now pic.twitter.com/8TMkMLNslv— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) April 23, 2019
Cook said it was important to have band members be a part of the interview process to implement student's input in selecting the best fit.
"They asked a lot of questions," Cook said "Oftentimes, a lot of very detailed, direct questions. He was very interested in hearing from them, what mattered to them, what were the things they valued about their band program."
Pompey has an extensive music background. He studied music education at the University of Alabama and earned his doctorate of musical arts from the University of Texas-Austin. He served as an assistant director of bands at Penn State University before becoming the director of athletic bands and associate director of bands for the University of Nevada, Reno.
When asked what the board and students thought of bringing an outsider in, Cook said. "It just wasn't an issue."
One thing that is unique to Pompey filling this role is that he is the first person of color to direct the UW marching band.
"I think it certainly speaks to our desire to bring diversity to the student body and the faculty and to our respect for people from all kinds of backgrounds," Cook said.
Pompey is not giving media interviews until after he starts July 20.
"The band is excited," Musarra said. "We will see you real soon. On Wisconsin!"
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