UW-Madison Varsity Band Spring Concert returns after pandemic hiatus

Concerts Friday & Saturday at the Kohl Center
For the first time since 2019, the UW-Madison Varsity Band Spring Concert is back at the Kohl Center this weekend.
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 5:09 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2022 at 6:01 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - For the first time since 2019, the UW-Madison Varsity Band Spring Concert is back at the Kohl Center this weekend. A tradition on campus since 1975, the concert had been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. This is also the first time Dr. Corey Pompey will lead the Varsity Band Spring Concerts. Pompey took over for Mike Leckrone, who retired from a 50-year career leading the band following the concerts in 2019.

The band performs a medley of "The Music Man" during the 45th annual UW Varsity Band Spring...
The band performs a medley of "The Music Man" during the 45th annual UW Varsity Band Spring Concert at the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)(Jeff Miller | University of Wisconsin-Madison)

The concerts are Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.. You can find more information about the concerts here.

NBC15′s John Stofflet had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Pompey about the concert series. The following is a transcript of that conversation.

John Stofflet: It is a spring tradition here on the UW-Madison Campus—the Varsity Band Concert. It’s been here since 1975. There have been a couple of years hiatus, (I think we all know why). Dr. Corey Pompey, the Varsity Band Spring Concert is back. That has to feel just great?

Corey Pompey, PhD: “It feels great for our students. Certainly, it feels great for the public…and everybody’s excited. I’ll let you know how I’m feeling after Saturday night. Most definitely, it’s a step toward being back. I mean we wouldn’t have it any other way. As you mentioned earlier…this has been going on, other than the shutdown, 46 years. So that’s a tradition that we wanted to continue and hope that it continues long past my tenure here….which hopefully won’t be for a while.”

Members of the tribune section perform during the 45th annual UW Varsity Band Spring Concert at...
Members of the tribune section perform during the 45th annual UW Varsity Band Spring Concert at the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 13, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)(Jeff Miller | University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Stofflet: “We know that your predecessor, Mike Leckrone, was famous for those Liberace-like costumes and coming in from the ceiling on cables. What can we expect for your entrance and for this concert series this weekend?”

Suspended on a wired harness, band director Mike Leckrone makes a flying entrance across the...
Suspended on a wired harness, band director Mike Leckrone makes a flying entrance across the stage as the band performs "Space Badgers" during the 45th annual UW Varsity Band Spring Concert at the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 13, 2019. T (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)(Jeff Miller | University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Pompey: “Well, if people are expecting me to fly in and wear, as you say, those Liberace-like outfits, I’m afraid they’re going to be a little disappointed. I’m just going to walk in, and we’re going to play music, and hopefully people are going to enjoy it. We’ll still have a lot of those production elements that people have come to expect…but those two things I’m afraid won’t be a part of this iteration of the concert.”

Corey Pompey, associate director of bands and director of the Marching Band at the University...
Corey Pompey, associate director of bands and director of the Marching Band at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducts the band during the Badger Bash pregame tailgate at Union South before the start of the UW vs. Central Michigan football game on Sept. 7, 2019. (Photo by Bryce Richter /UW-Madison)(Bryce Richter | University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Stofflet: “Let’s talk about the music? What can people expect if they’re coming to the concerts this coming Friday and Saturday night?”

Pompey: “Well, people can expect the ‘chestnuts’, as I’ll call them—'On, Wisconsin!’ and ‘Badger’ and different things like that. Of course we’ll be doing a lot of the music from the 5th Quarter. We’ll also be featuring music of Panic at the Disco, and Queen, and some other music that will be sprinkled in throughout the show. Hopefully, we’ll have a variety of music that people can tap their toes to.”

Stofflet: “I think so many people have been so impressed at how you and the Badger Band have brought this all together through such a challenging time. What has it been like for you? Of course, when you took over in 2019, none of us knew there would be a pandemic…so what’s it been like for you and the band…and what does it feel like to be back?”

Pompey: “I must say, up until the shutdown, things were moving quite smoothly. One would expect there to be some turbulence after replacing someone for 50 years, but I can tell you, that was not the case for me. And I was incredibly, incredibly grateful to the students and the campus community for how things went during the fall semester and during the spring up until the shutdown. When the shutdown happened, we managed the best that we could. It was very, very difficult for all of us, but we’re grateful to be back. We had a great fall season. This spring semester has been great. All those sports we performed for in the spring? That has been great for us, and now we just concentrate on the spring concert. As I mentioned, the students are really looking forward to it, the band alumni, they’re looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to it to, but I’m looking forward to it in a different way than all of them, but we’re just happy…and grateful…is how I would call it.”

Stofflet: “It’s always so much fun to watch the band, and watch you lead the band. Dr. Corey Pompey, thank you. Break a leg this weekend. If people want ticket information go to the UW Athletics Ticket Office. The concert again this Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 at the Kohl Center. Thank you, Corey, for joining us. On, Wisconsin!

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