Corey Pompey has been the UW-Madison Marching band director for four years, but his predecessor is Mike Lekorone, who held that title for 50 years, and so he’s still the new guy. 

As he spoke to the Waunakee Rotary Club about the university’s marching band program, his pride was almost palpable and somewhat contagious.

“This organization has the best students on the campus at the University of Wisconsin,” the band director said, adding they are extremely hardworking and dedicated, and he yells their praises “from the mountaintop.”

An instructional staff of 10 with support staff, as well, are dedicated to the marching band, which can have up to 300 students. This fall, 276 marched and 256 performed in the spring concert. Their majors are across the campus and they represent 19 states, Corey said. 

The band is part of the College of Letters and Sciences, not the athletics department, and is based in the Mead Witter School of Music. They deliver about 100 performances each year. 

Currently, the organization is preparing for the fall performance line-up. Each spring, that preparation begins with a survey of the band about the music they’d like to play, with choices of classic rock, pop, Broadway and oldies, although Corey acknowledged that “oldies” means something different to everyone. 

Once the survey is complete, the staff and he have a “robust discussion” or heated argument over which to choose, always keeping in mind that the selections should appeal to the audience, or at least be music the audience can relate to, Corey said. 

Once the selections have been made, the university applies for the rights and pays the royalties. Sometimes, as in the case of a Bruce Springstein song, their request is rejected. 

In August, the teaching assistants and staff begin to lay out the season.

That’s also when clinics begin to be held and then auditions. 

Auditions for the drum majors begin Aug. 14, and everyone interested in marching band then auditions Aug. 15. 

Veterans of the band spend a week getting back into shape before then, as many haven’t picked up an instrument all summer. 

“It’s ‘On Wisconsin’ up and down the field all day, every day,” Corey said. 

Prospective members also spend time just learning how to march. 

After auditions, the marching band members work hard rehearsing about three times a day for the first home football game. It falls on Sept. 2 this year, a few days before classes start. 

“At that time, everyone needs a break,” Corey said, and their practices are reduced to once a day, Tuesdays through Fridays, from 3:45-5:30 p.m., and Saturday mornings when games are scheduled. 

“They work really hard, and we’re extremely proud of what they do,” Corey said. 

If Dr. Pompey is still new to you, he is from the south, and holds a doctor of musical arts degree in wind conducting from the University of Texas. He previously worked as a band director and assistant band director at Penn State and the University of Nevada-Reno.


Other News:

-The West Madison Middleton Rotary Golf Outing is June 19 and is the club’s biggest fundraiser.

-May 20 is Tri 4 Schools, and three spots are left in the second shift to cheer on the kids. 

-The next fellowship is 4 p.m. Tuesday at Murphy’s. 

Guests: Tim Kennedy and Keith Kuehn, guests of Dave Kennedy; Carolyn Scherer, guest of Jennifer Tasker; Kirstie Skul, guest of Tony Burns; Shelley from Rex’s, guest of Kevin McDaniels.

Visiting Rotarians: 

Birthdays: May 23, Bob Klostermann.

Anniversaries: May 23, Greg and Heidi Garton

Greeters: May 18, Jim Pingel and Erick Plumb; May 24, Corey Randl and Tom Roepke; June 1, David Rupp and Troy Salisbury.