UW-Madison on Tuesday named Corey Pompey as the successor to legendary UW Marching Band director Mike Leckrone.
Pompey has served as the director of athletic bands and associate director of bands for the University of Nevada-Reno since July 2018. He emerged among 28 applicants in a national search that began after Leckrone announced his retirement in August.
“Corey Pompey is the clear choice,” School of Music director Susan Cook said in UW-Madison’s announcement. “He has a deep musicianship along with an enthusiasm and energy on the podium that was infectious; he really connected with the students.”
Pompey did not return a phone message and email seeking comment Tuesday.
Before working at the University of Nevada-Reno, Pompey served as assistant director of bands at Penn State University, another Big 10 institution.
Pompey studied music education as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Alabama. He taught music in Alabama public schools for seven years before earning his doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Texas-Austin in 2016.
Kenneth Ozzello, director of bands for the University of Alabama and one of Pompey’s professors, said his former student has “huge shoes to fill” but said Pompey is up for the job.
Ozzello remembers Pompey as somewhat of a perfectionist. Pompey was a drum major in the marching band and played saxophone in the wind ensemble, he said.
“When you’re dealing with the arts where you’re baring your soul, it’s important to be comfortable,” Ozzello said. “Students are attracted to his personality and his style of teaching. He’s very friendly. He creates a really comfortable learning environment.”
Pompey’s salary will be $85,000, according to the university.
Some UW band students participated in the interview process. C.J. Zabat, a senior who serves as the band’s drum major, said he and other band members were impressed with Pompey.
The university’s last search took place in 1969, which led to Leckrone’s hire. He’s been at UW-Madison ever since.
Leckrone said he was not involved in the search and did not meet with any of the three finalists brought to campus earlier this semester.
Asked if he expected Pompey to stay at UW-Madison for 50 years, Leckrone laughed and asked, “Would anyone be that dumb? I guess anything can happen.”
Leckrone said he will make himself available to Pompey during the transition to serve as a sounding board in the same way Leckrone’s predecessor, Ray Dvorak, did for him.
“We all want the band to be successful,” Leckrone said.
Pompey said he is mindful of the legacy he will inherit and is “honored” to carry on the program’s excellence. He starts July 20.