Thursday, July 11, 2019

By Amanda Taylor

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Mathew Campbell, a UTRGV alumni, has transformed music from a creative hobby to a lifelong passion and career.

Campbell is an award-winning composer and educator, taking what he loves about music and turning it into art and curriculum for students.

“Music education is important to education as a whole because it can bring the art of being human to an academic setting,” he said. “Music brings the subjectivity to education where other subjects do not.”

Campbell graduated from UTRGV with a bachelor’s in Music Education in 2016. He chose to attend UTRGV after being accepted into the University Scorpion Scholars Program provided by legacy institution The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) and Texas Southmost College (TSC).

Campbell studied under the direction of Dr. Joe W. Moore III, assistant professor in percussion ensemble within the School of Music, who encouraged Campbell to submit to composition contests. He attributes Moore’s guidance and mentorship to guiding him down the path of success.

‘‘Perhaps my fondest memory at UTRGV was having my composition recital in Spring 2016. It was incredibly rewarding to put in so much hard work and show myself what I could do to take ideas in my head that only I imagined into tangible moments of artistry.
—Mathew Campbell’’

“My biggest accomplishment as a composer was winning the 2015 Percussive Arts Society Composition Contest,” Campbell recalled. “I was encouraged by my professor at the time, Dr. Joe W. Moore III, to compose and submit a piece. Well, to my surprise, I won the first composition contest I ever submitted to. I could not be more thankful for his (Moore’s) help, encouragement and friendship.”

Campbell has had multiple musical works premiered at Texas Music Educator’s Conferences in 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as at the National Flute Convention in 2013 and the International Clarinet Convention in 2016. 

The San Benito, Texas native recalls his early years growing up in the Rio Grande Valley and taking trips to the mall in Harlingen to look at instruments. The piano was the first instrument that struck his interest. 

“I have always been interested in music. I want to say my first memory of anything musical would be going to Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen, Texas, and playing on the pianos at Mr. Music - though they always had the strict ‘DO NOT PLAY’ sign,” Campbell said.

By the age of 8, Campbell was taking his first lessons on a piano and a drum set.

While at UTRGV, Campbell was able to participate in various “real life” scenarios within the world of teaching, composing and conducting. Campbell said that working toward a career in music is different from the more objective career paths, since there are intricacies that happen on a personal level through the process of art.

“Other subjects teach objective things where you’ll always get the same right answer when you ask the same questions,” Campbell said. “Music doesn’t always need to have a right answer. This gray area gives humans the ability to weigh options and make decisions.”

As a recent master’s graduate from Oklahoma City University, Campbell has moved back to the Rio Grande Valley to return to his roots and spread his love for music to his community. 

He touches on the past and recollects some of his best memories from his time as an undergrad at UTRGV. One ensemble, in particular, stands out as an important milestone in his life. 

“Perhaps my fondest memory at UTRGV was having my composition recital in Spring 2016. It was incredibly rewarding to put in so much hard work and show myself what I could do to take ideas in my head that only I imagined into tangible moments of artistry,” he said.

“Capping off the recital was a 17-minute-long work for clarinet, percussion quartet and electronics named Perigee-Syzygy. Iris, then my girlfriend, was playing the clarinet part. Right after the recital, I proposed to her outside of the venue.

“The best part? She said yes.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.