Can Bilir


Can Bilir is a multidisciplinary composer – sound artist, guitar player, and sound studies researcher. His works have been performed and featured across the globe. He has been working in interdisciplinary music and art projects held at major venues collaborated with leading ensembles more than two decades. In addition to his creative work, he is an active figure as an academic and researcher. His research focuses on Electroacoustic music and creative coding, acoustic ecologies, field recordings and analysis methods, sound in drama, tragedy, literature, film, and animation, philosophy of mind, philosophy of nature, cognitive schemata, and audio illusion techniques, examining through the lenses of new materialism, posthumanism, and Anthropocene/Capitalocene, with comparative case studies from Turkiye and Thailand.

​His third String Quartet, Düşük (Fallen) was listed among globally most used top fifteen scores of the largest open access contemporary score repository, UCLA Contemporary Music Score Collection, eScholarship in the initial cycle in 2021 and in the second cycle 2022, out of 5,514 scores, two years in row.

​He was the recipient of the Otto R. Stahl Memorial Award at Cornell University for excellence of his Master's Thesis piece, Sinfonietta: Clusters of Unity (2016), the Mario Einaudi Center International Research Grant (2017) for his doctoral research in Paris, Fulbright Scholarship for Graduate Studies in the United States, The Second Century Fund C2F Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Chulalongkorn University (2022) for his research and fieldwork on bioacoustics and soundscape in South Thailand and Bangkok, and Albi Rosenthal Fellowship of Music at the University of Oxford (2023) for his research on Franz Kafka's manuscripts and Kafka's literary sounds.

He has received commissions for the 100th year of commemoration of Franz Kafka from the University of Oxford and Oxford International Song Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Aizuri Quartet (2018). He was commissioned for the Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial by Ariana Kim for Brescia, Italy and Ithaca, New York (2016-2017). He was selected by European Broadcasting Union and commissioned as a MusMa–European Broadcasting Project as a composer collaborating with I Solisti del Vento (2014-2016). He was additionally commissioned by and has closely worked with JACK Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, Continuum, Momenta, Ossia, Ipse, sTem, Distractfold, Adapter, and Xak Bjerken and Rachel Calloway with critically acclaimed poet Ishion Hutchinson, and has created for numerous other projects. His multimedia works were featured by Hackney Downs Studios’ The Holy Art in London, UK, Doncaster Art Fair in Yorkshire, UK, and the 38. MesaFilm Fest by Middle East Studies Association of North America.

​​Can Bilir completed his DMA in Composition and Musicology with a dual concentration at Cornell University in 2019. His work was further shaped at Harvard University as an Ivy Plus Exchange Doctoral Scholar (2017 – 2018), at the IRCAM/Eastman School of Music new music analysis program in Paris (2017), and his self–conducted creative and research experiences in Turkey, Thailand, France, Germany, Italy, and Austria. He has additionally earned an MFA from Cornell University and an MM in composition from Bilkent University.

​As an educator, he has been working in higher education more than ten years . At Cornell, he was the Assistant of Cornell Electroacoustic Music Center and Assistant Conductor of the Cornell Symphony Orchestra and a lecturer of Theory Track as a part of the Cornell Active Learning Initiative (2015-2019). He taught harmony, ear training, theory for music and theatre (2012-2014) and later acoustic and electroacoustic music composition, film and game music, and he was responsible for the orchestration track as the sole instructor at Bilkent University (2019-2021). He has taken an active role in undergraduate and graduate leadership as the president of Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players (2015-2016), advocating diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the campus and beyond as a lecturer and a board member of Cornell ISB –International Students Board (later ISU).

​His principal mentors have been Kevin Ernste, Roberto Sierra, Steven Stucky at Cornell University and Chaya Czernowin at Harvard University, in addition to Roger Moseley, Derk Pereboom, Tolga Yayalar, and Turgut Pogun. He worked with the leading composers of our times such as Augusta Read Thomas, Melinda Wagner, Brian Ferneyhough, Stephen Hartke, Chinary Ung, Isabel Mundry, Fred Lerdahl, Kurt Rohde, David Lang, Klaus Lang, Dieter Ammann, Claus Gadenstatter, James Matheson, Rand Steiger, Daquin Wen, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Richard Ayres, and Kamran Ince.

He is a versatile guitar player. He completed his bachelor degree in guitar performance at Bilkent University (2010). His guitar mentors have been Kagan Korad and Kursad Terci at Bilkent University School of Music. His earlier training as a performer was with Fatih Yazici, Yakup Kivrak, and Ahmet Kanneci at Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory. In addition he had worked with leading guitar composers from different genres, such as Al Di Meola, Roland Dyens, and Andrew York.

He recently continues his performance in studio settings and improvisatory live concerts. His main performance interests expertise include all major repertoire of classical guitar with improvisation via galant schemata and partimenti; in addition to rock, experimental music, live processing, and robotic extensions via electric guitar. He additionally works on film and game music, computer programming, Arduino IDE and circuits, Max and PD, controllers, DIY electronics, electroacoustic instrument building, and readymade objects.

​Dr. Bilir recently joined to the University of Michigan CSEAS as a Research Associate to work on his book on ecology of sound and composition projects, and to the University of Oxford as the Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellow, working on Franz Kafka and his compositions on selected subjects on Kafka's writing.

Biography updated: July 2023

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