Photo by Moo Jae | intothestory.co

Harry Stafylakis (b. 1982) hails from Montreal and is now based in New York City. His "dreamy yet rhythmic" (NY Times) concert music strives for dramatic emotional and intellectual expression, integrating idioms drawn from classical and popular styles. With an intimate background in progressive metal and traditional Greek music, Stafylakis has developed a unique conception of musical temporality and rhythm, infusing his compositions with a characteristic vitality and drive.

Stafylakis is currently serving as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's Composer-In-Residence and Festival Director of the WSO's Winnipeg New Music Festival. His works have been performed by the Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Victoria, Spokane, Stamford, FSU, and PEI symphony orchestras, American Composers Orchestra, McGill Chamber Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, FSU Symphony, ICE, Contemporaneous, Mivos Quartet, Quatuor Bozzini, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Nouveau Classical Project, ensemble mise-en, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Cygnus Ensemble, Ensemble 212, Alea III, Lorelei Ensemble, Architek Percussion, Norrbotten NEO, and American Modern Ensemble. He has been featured at the NY Philharmonic Biennial, Aspen Music Festival, Winnipeg New Music Festival, New Music on the Point, Atlantic Center for the Arts, June In Buffalo, Composers Now, FSU Festival of New Music, Providence Premieres, Aries Composers Festival, SCI, EAMA, York Guitar Festival, Cluster, and the Montreal International Classical Guitar Festival. 

His awards include the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP Foundation’s Leonard Bernstein Award, four SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers, and grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and New Music USA. He serves on the board of directors of GroundSwell (Winnipeg) and the interdisciplinary curatorial panel of I-Park Foundation (CT), is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, and a founding member of the NYC composer collective ICEBERG New Music.

Upcoming projects include new works for the Winnipeg and Ottawa symphonies, Hard Rubber Orchestra, the Vicky Chow/Ben Reimer duo, Periapsis Music and Dance, and Mivos Quartet.

Stafylakis holds a B.Mus. from McGill University, where he studied with Chris Paul Harman, Jean Lesage, and John Rea. He is a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), where he studied with Jason Eckardt and David Del Tredici, and lectures at the City College of New York. His doctoral research, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, examines the conception of rhythm and meter in progressive metal. 

www.hstafylakis.com

Compositions

Unrelent (2017) for 6 players



Unrelent (2017)
for 6 players: flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion

Performed by Contemporaneous, David Bloom conducting.


Program Notes:

“It is often when night looks darkest, it is often before the fever breaks that one senses the gathering momentum for change, when one feels that resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.”
—Hillary Clinton

Unrelent is an expression of the turbulent emotional/psychological state I've witnessed around me – and experienced myself – in response to recent political developments in the USA. Having recently become a citizen under President Obama's tenure, the 2016 presidential election felt like a profound betrayal of the principles that brought me to this country in the first place. Recalling the near-paralysis many of us were experiencing on the morning of November 9, and the incredible displays of solidarity in response to the various political and humanitarian crises that have arisen since then, composing this work was an exercise in catharsis.
—HS (www.hstafylakis.com)


Never the Same River (2016) for orchestra



Never the Same River (2016)
for orchestra

Performed 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 purchase or rental (PDF or hard copy) through my website:
www.hstafylakis.com/contact


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 orchestral choirs 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.

www.hstafylakis.com


Calibrating Friction (2016) for amplified ensemble



Calibrating Friction (2016)
for amplified ensemble: flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, and drum set

Performed by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Timothy Weiss conducting (Donald Crockett, additional rehearsal conductor).

Recorded live on August 8, 2016 at Harris Hall, Aspen, Colorado, USA. Recorded by Adam Borecki; editing, mixing, and mastering by Adam Pietrykowski.

Score and parts available for purchase or rental (PDF or hard copy) through my website:
www.hstafylakis.com/contact


Program Notes:

“Free societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.”
— Salman Rushdie

Kinetic friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other. In liquids, fluid layers move against each other, determining the viscosity of the material. The atoms inside a solid material can experience friction as well; when a solid block of metal gets compressed, all the atoms inside the material move, creating internal friction.

This provides an interesting perspective on human social systems of all shapes and sizes – family units, communities, nations. Necessarily, as individuals interact with each other, various degrees of friction occur as their thoughts, beliefs, worldviews, and emotional states collide. At any given moment, they may agree and move together, or come into conflict, sliding and grinding against each other.

Calibrating Friction is a meditation on these complexities of human interaction. The piece takes its cues from musical styles – especially progressive metal – that highlight metrical dissonance (degrees of conflict between perceived rhythmic and metrical layers). The seven members of the ensemble are treated as individual entities whose relative motions continuously shift in and out of phase. As a result, the overall groove and flow of the music fluctuates as internal elements of the ensemble pass between degrees of agreement and conflict.
— HS


Arc of Horizon (2015) for chamber orchestra



Arc of Horizon (2015)
for chamber orchestra: 1121 / 1110 / 1 perc. / pno / strings

Arc of Horizon was commissioned by the Lake George Music Festival and made possible with a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. It was premiered on August 26, 2015 at Sacred Heart Church in Lake George, NY, Roger Kalia conducting.

The version for full orchestra was created for the Spokane Symphony. Premiere November 6, 2015 - Spokane Symphony, WA, Kevin Rhodes conducting.

Recorded live by Michael France. Mixed and mastered by Adam Pietrykowski.

Score and parts available for purchase or rental (PDF or hard copy) through my website:
www.hstafylakis.com/contact


Program notes

"When you grow up by the sea you spend a good deal of time looking at the horizon. You wonder what on earth the waves might bring - and where the sea might deposit you - until one day you know you have lived between two places, the scene of arrival and the point of departure."
––Andrew O'Hagan, The Atlantic Ocean: Essays (2008)

The title is drawn form the Greek "ὁρίζων κύκλος" (horizōn kyklos) – "separating circle" – which symbolizes the sliver of visible horizon that always remains in the distance no matter how much one tries to reach it.

As a resident of NYC hailing from Montreal, I have traveled between the two cities countless times since childhood. At the midpoint of that voyage, Lake George has always stood out as a landmark signaling my departure from one place and imminent arrival at another. This manifests itself tangibly as radio broadcasts dissolve, replaced by new ones ahead, but with significant overlap and signal crossing along the way. Unfailingly, this transition from one "home" to another evokes tangled and conflicting emotions of aspiration, longing, regret, fear, and nostalgia.

Musically, Arc of Horizon emerges from this symbolic personal transition between my past in progressive metal and my present in concert music – I seem to perpetually chase whichever horizon seems newest, and having arrived I turn back to chase it again.
–HS