UW Marching Band Meets the Top 40
New director Corey Pompey puts his stamp on a great tradition.
Attention, passengers, there’s a new conductor in town, and his name is Corey Pompey. The new director of bands at UW–Madison could put anyone at ease with his big smile and pronounced Southern accent — it doesn’t take long to see why he was selected as the replacement for campus legend Mike Leckrone. He’s even willing to jump up and demonstrate different marching band styles for a reporter who’s unfamiliar with them.
Dr. Pompey — he holds a doctor of musical arts degree in wind conducting — is both humble and assured. Previously, he served as assistant director of bands at Penn State and director of athletic bands at the University of Nevada–Reno, with hopes of one day leading a major program. His dream has come true, and now he’s focused on putting his stamp on the great UW marching band tradition.
What were your initial impressions of the UW when you came for an interview?
I must admit that, from the time I stepped foot in Madison, it felt really good. It felt natural. I met with several students, and everyone was just so nice.
What’s special about the Badger marching band?
It’s the marching style. We call it “stop at the top.” And we, to my knowledge, are the only university that has that style. There’s just nothing like it.
What’s your favorite marching band song?
One of the classics is called “In the Stone,” and it’s an Earth, Wind & Fire tune. A lot of major marching bands have played it. I must also say that I find myself whistling “On, Wisconsin!” quite a bit as of late. I’ve grown rather fond of the tune. In terms of fight songs, I think we’ve got one of the best ones.
What do you want your legacy to be as marching band director?
I’m just trying to do the best job that I can. And if I have the great fortune of longevity here, my hope is that the students will have had a great time and gotten something out of the experience. If that’s the case, then I’ll be happy.
Do you have a favorite song right now?
This morning I found myself singing “Señorita” [by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello]. I like run-of-the-mill Top 40 stuff like [the Jonas Brothers’] “Sucker” and the Shawn Mendes song “If I Can’t Have You.”
Do you think any of that pop music could filter into the band?
We’ll see what happens. I hope so.
Has Mike Leckrone given you any advice?
His advice to me was: do what you know how to do. And I thought that was great advice, because it gives you a little bit of license to try to do things the way you know how to do them.
Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Allison Garfield x’20
Published in the Winter 2019 issue