Leckrone caps off 50 years with final UW Varsity Band concerts

Mike Leckrone directs the University of Wisconsin Marching Band at Lambeau Field Sept. 30, 2018.
Mike Leckrone directs the University of Wisconsin Marching Band in the Fifth Quarter following a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field Sept. 30, 2018. (WLUK image)

MADISON (WLUK) -- Ending a 50-year career, Mike Leckrone has conducted his last concert for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Varsity Band.

The band played to sellout crowds at the Kohl Center last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the 45th installment in the annual concert series.

Known for his high-flying entrances to the concert, Leckrone arrived for his last show in a replica Camp Randall arch suspended high above the stage.

The spring concert featured selections from "Jersey Boys," "The Greatest Showman" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," all of which were performed by the marching band during the football season. Pyrotechnics and video montages added to the entertainment.

The show included favorites from the Fifth Quarter, which Leckrone invented in the 1970s.

The concert's finale included Leckrone singing “Funny How Time Slips Away” and a short farewell from the iconic director.

“I can’t thank you enough for all the years,” he said. “I won’t say goodbye but we’ll see you real soon. And On, Wisconsin.”

Leckrone announced his retirement to marching band members in August. A national search for his successor is underway.

While the Varsity Band's season is over, Leckrone still has a few more appearances at UW. The school's Concert Band, which Leckrone separately directs, has its spring concert April 28. Leckrone also directs a smaller group of musicians for the UW graduation ceremonies May 10-11.