Mat Campbell Music

Composer. Arranger. Conductor. Percussionist. Educator.

 Five Hundred Year Storm


The five days of writing Five Hundred Year Storm changed my life. Between watching the coverage on The Weather Channel to revisiting it while writing my Master’s thesis, it taught me about patience and the inner storms of our lives.

I never intended to write a piece about Hurricane Harvey, but it just happened. Perhaps it was naive of me to write a piece about a life-changing storm for others while combining it with my love of meteorology. In other words, it seems like a foolish idea to write about an event in which others lost everything while I was comfortably watching disaster unfold from afar. At the end of the entire process, I used Hurricane Harvey as a model for the daily storms of our lives. Each one is different. Sometimes you can prepare for it.. Other times you can’t. The most profound message behind Five Hundred Year Storm is that humanity is resilient in the face of the utmost disaster.

Version for Six Pianos

The six pianos version of Five Hundred Year Storm was composed for the Great Britain / Great Plains Composers’ Exchange between Edge Hill University in Lancashire, England and Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, OK. It was premiered on April 13, 2018 with the composer conducting.

Version for Symphony Orchestra

The full orchestra version of Five Hundred Year Storm was composed for Maestro Jeffrey Grogan and the Oklahoma City University Symphony Orchestra. It was premiered on April 6, 2019.

Program Notes:

Five Hundred Year Storm is primarily about the life and death of Hurricane Harvey. Harvey made landfall on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Though it started as disorganized thunderstorms off the coast of Africa, it had a rise, fall, and rise again to devastating power as it became the first major hurricane to make landfall on the Texas coast in over fifty years. The Houston area, alone, received sixty inches (152 cm) of rain within its four days of stalling. On a more personal level, I lived in Houston earlier in my life from ages five to six. I hold Houston in a very dear place in my heart, and I couldn’t watch newscasts without being fearful for my old home and the people that live there. This piece depicts the rollercoaster ride that was this storm, but it also represents the storm going on in our every day lives. As a graduate student living in today’s United States political climate, this piece represents the uncertainty of my future in academia. As I was writing Section V: Landfall / The Decimation of Rockport, Texas (measure 127), a new tax bill was passed in the United States Congress. This potentially makes tuition waivers taxable income for graduate students, making my dreams of pursuing a doctoral degree uncertain. This piece is a way for me to cope with all of the things going wrong in the world. It is for all of us to reflect and try to move on. The first and final upward gestures in the piece are played by crotales and piano. The final gesture spells out “Irma”, which was the next major hurricane to hit the United States. I chose to end this piece with that because we always have to prepare for what’s coming next. The only way to help ourselves is to help others when we all need it. The full titles of each section are as follows with their corresponding dates:

Section I: Brewing off the Coast of Africa, Aug. 13, 2017

Section II: Deteriorating / Extratropical, Aug. 19, 2017

Section III: When the Coriolis Meets the Gulf of Mexico, Aug. 23, 2017

Section IV: Category IV off the Shore, Aug. 25, 2017

Section V: Landfall / The Decimation of Rockport, Texas, Aug. 26, 2017

Section VI: Water as far as the Eye Can See, Aug. 30, 2017