Can Bilir (DMA) is a composer, musicologist, and classical guitar player. His research interests include but are not limited to cross-modal perception, music theory, and philosophy of mind. His works have been performed in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Western Asia by leading ensembles and performers.

Bilir’s works elaborate subjects of consciousness, dream, and memory; soundscapes of conflicts, natural and human-caused disasters, animism, relations of human, animal, and other-than-human-persons; and the decolonization of the self-colonial thought, expression, and emotion in composition.


DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts),  Cornell University, (2019) Composition concentration & Musicology concentration | Dissertation: “The Composer’s Mind Through the Looking Glass: An Analysis of Pitch-centricity in Zaide/Adama

MFA (Master of Fine Arts), Cornell University (2017) Fulbright Scholar (2014- 2016)

MM (Master of Music), Bilkent University (2014) Composition

BM (Bachelor of Music), Bilkent University (2010) Classical Guitar

Exchange Scholar, Harvard University (2017-2018) Composition

Principle mentors 

Composition: Kevin Ernste, Chaya Czernowin, Roberto Sierra, Steve Stucky, Tolga Yayalar, Gokce Altay, Onur Turkmen, and Turgut Pogun.

Classical Guitar: Kagan Korad and Kursad Terci.

Notable Commissions and Ensembles Worked With
  • Cornell Symphony Orchestra with conductor Adrian Slywotzky
  • Ensemble IPSE
  • Momenta Quartet
  • Cornell Gamelan Ensemble
  • Aizuri Quartet with Kinan Azmeh
  • Distractfold Ensemble
  • Ensemble Adapter
  • Ensemble sTem
  • Rachel Calloway and Xak Bjerken, on a poem of Ishion Hutchinson
  • JACK Quartet
  • Ariana Kim and Periscope for Arts (Amie Weiss and Nicola Barbieri)
  • Continuum Ensemble New York
  • New York New Music Ensemble
  • I Solisti del Vento (MUSMA V)
  • OSSIA New Music Ensemble
  • Omnibus Ensemble
  • Cornell Festival Chamber Orchestra
  • Ernest Rombout’s Class (IMPULS)
  • Ensemble X with conductor Chris Kim
  • Turkish Radio and Television Corporation Polyphonic Choir (Composer for the Project 40th Years of TRT)
Selected Music Festivals
  • 2019 15th Thailand International Composition Festival
  • 2019 TNMAS- Thailand Music and Arts Organization
  • 2016 Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial: le Storie di Vita nel Legno The Stories of life on WoodManerbio Italy; biennial theme empathty and international immigration crisis, composer and performer
  • 2015 Festival de Wallonie, Brussels, composer
  • 2015 Klasik Keyifler, Turkey, composer
  • 2015 Turkey Guitar Convention (Turkey Guitar Meeting), composer, conductor and electronics
  • 2015 June in Buffalo, composer
  • 2015 IMPULS, composer
  • 2015 Klarafestival, Brussels, composer
  • 2015 Ankara Music Festival, Ankara, Turkey, composer
  • 2013 Turkey Guitar Convention (Turkey Guitar Meeting), composer
  • 2013 Composers’s Voice Concert Series New York,NY, composer
  • 2012 Turkey Guitar Convention (Turkey Guitar Meeting), composer and guitarist
  • 2013 Iron Composer, Cleveland, OH, composer
  • 2010 Young Composers Workshop, Riga-Mascalasa, Latvia, composer

2019 Spring,  Graduate Teaching Assistant, Music 3621 Cornell Symphony Orchestra with conductor Adrian Slywotzky, Cornell University: Brahms Symphony No.3, Stravinsky Firebird Suite (1919), Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, and Liszt Piano Concerto No.1

2018 Fall, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Music 2101 Theory, Materials & Techniques I, with Roger Moseley, Cornell University: topics in Species Counterpoint, Galant Style, and Schema Theory, 18th century music repertoire from Galant Style, in addition earlier and contemporary music repertoire examples.

2017 Spring, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Music 2102 Theory, Materials & Techniques II, with Roger Moseley, Cornell University: Neo-Riemannian Theory and Transformations in 18 & 19 Century Music, repertoire from Schubert to Debussy, in addition 20th century and contemporary music examples.

2016 Fall, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Music 1421 Introduction to Computer Music, with Kevin Ernste, Cornell University: topics in signal processing and synthesis, area recording, editing, and mixing; projects with Pure Data, Max Msp, Ableton Live, Reason, Arduino coding. 

2016 Spring, Assistant Conductor of Cornell Symphony Orchestra, Graduate Teaching Assistant for Music 3621, with conductor Kisun Sung and Chris Kim, Cornell University

2015 Fall, Instructor, Music 3103 Musicianship, Cornell University

2015 Fall, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Music 3101 Tonal Theory III with Roger Moseley, Cornell University

2014 Spring, Instructor, Harmony Courses, Bilkent University

2012-2013 and 2013 Fall, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Harmony Courses, with Gökçe Altay, Bilkent University

2013-2014 Instructor, MSC 903 Ear Training I for Acting, MSC 904 Ear Training II for Acting: Traditional and Avant-Garde Ear Training, Bilkent University

2013-2014 Composition for non-majors, Bilkent University

2006-2007 Classical Guitar for non-majors, Bilkent University

Scholarships, Fellowships, and Grants

2017 Mario Einaudi Center Research Travel Grant, Cornell University

2017 Graduate School Research Travel Grant, Cornell University

2017 Sage Fellowship, Cornell University

2014-2015 Sage Fellowship, Cornell University

2014-2016 Fulbright Foreign Students Scholarship

2012-2014 Merit- Based Scholarship for Bilkent Composition Department

2005-2010 Talent- Based Scholarship for Bilkent Guitar Department

2002-2005 Talent- Based Scholarship for Bilkent Music Prep Highschool

2014 Peer-Reviewed Paper:

MC rhetoric in Beethoven symphonies: Their deviations from the norm. Journal, Porte Akademik: Müzik ve dans araştırmaları dergisi, Fall 2014,Volume 10,pg. 74-87. SSN:2146-2453, Accession Number:2014-71682. RILM secondary Journal, see RILM abstracts of music literature

2013 Recording:

Ivan the Terrible for solo guitar performed by Kazim Cokogullu, CAGSAV, barcode 8680202661074

2012 Score:

Ivan the Terrible, Yildiz Technical University Gorsel YayinlarNo:3 Polifonik Seri No:2, Istanbul. YTU Kutuphane ve Dokumantasyon Merkezi Sayi: YTU. ST-0855, ISBN 978-975-461-486-2

Selected Awards

2015-2016 Otto R. Stahl Memorial Award, Cornell University

2014 Tuscaloosa New Music Collective Call for Scores Grand prize

2013 Iron Composer Instant Composition Competition 2nd prize

2012 Counterpoint- Italy Composition Competition Winner

2012 MUSMA 5 European Broad Casting Festival Composer

2012 Mersin International Music Festival Composition Competition 3rd Prize

2009 Yildiz Technical University 2nd Composition Competition 3rd Prize

2005 Yildiz Technical University 3rd Guitar Performance Competition 3rd Prize