Harry Stafylakis


Never the Same River (orchestral version)
for orchestra (2016)
2(picc).2(corA).2(bcl).2(cbsn) / / timp + 3perc / hp / strings
11 minutes

Commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

World premiere by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Mickelthwate, at the Winnipeg New Music Festival on January 31, 2017 in Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Read by the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, Felix Mildenberger conducting. Recorded live by Adam Borecki on July 20, 2016 in Harris Hall, Aspen, CO.

Score and parts available for rental (PDF or hard copy). Send an inquiry through the Contact page.

Never the Same River (chamber version)
for bassoon, two violins, cello, and piano (2013)

Composed for the New Music on the Point Festival. Premiered by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and NMOP performers.

Recorded on June 15, 2013 at the University of Vermont in Burlington (live recording of World Premiere).

Score and parts available for purchase (PDF or hard copy). Send an inquiry through the Contact page.

Program Notes:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”
- Heraclitus

The above aphorism, attributed to pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (quoted by Plato in the dialogue Cratylus), expresses a view of the universe as being in a constant state of change. A musical analogue to this concept of impermanence is the chaconne, a Baroque form wherein a constantly repeating pattern (e.g. harmonic progression, bass line, etc.) provides a foundation for a process of continuous variation, decoration, figuration, and melodic invention.

Never the Same River is a texture-based composition that attempts to embody Heraclitus’s philosophy of simultaneous constancy and flux. The work is built on a perpetually repeating 26-note theme that serves as a vehicle for the gradual textural development of the musical surface. The five instruments of the ensemble act as independent musical streams whose ever-shifting interactions conspire to effectuate a large-scale rhythmic, melodic, articulative, registral, and dynamic intensification. At the peak of this textural crescendo, the music buckles under its own weight and breaks off into disconnected fragments that struggle to rekindle the musical flow.