Tolga Yayalar was born in 1973 in Istanbul and started music in high school by playing electric guitar in rock and jazz bands. After finishing high school, he studied Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has majored in jazz composition, studying mainly with Ken Pullig. He completed his masters at the Istanbul Technical University, Advanced Studies in Music program in 2003. He began his doctoral studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, and completed his Ph.D in composition in November 2010. At Harvard he worked with Bernard Rands, Julian Anderson, Brian Ferneyhough, Chaya Czernowin, Helmut Lachenmann and Joshua Fineberg. Yayalar’s musical output includes mostly chamber and orchestral music with and without electronics. His artistic focus centers around the idea of creating a sonic experience with a sound world which goes beyond stylistic conventions. His recent music puts different historical material into a foreign and unfamiliar context in which the meaning of musical material is completely transformed.
Tolga Yayalar’s music has been performed in the US, Europe and Latin America by ensembles and soloists such as Le Nouvel Ensemble Modern, Ensemble FA, Ying Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, OrchestrUtopica, The Callithumpian Consort, Hezarfen Ensemble, Platypus Ensemble, Earplay, Chamber Players of the League/ISCM, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Adorno Ensemble, Millennium Chamber Players, The CNM Ensemble, Yesaroun Duo, Samual Z. Solomon, Mari Kimura, Benjamin Schwartz, Seda Roeder and Garth Knox and at festivals such as BeethovenFest, Berliner Festspiele – MaerzMusik, New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, ISCM World New Music Days, Acanthes, June in Buffalo, Mediterranean Contemporary Music Days and La Ciudad de las Ideas in Mexico. He is recipient of awards and honors such as Donald Aird Memorial prize, Adelbert Sprague composition prize, Blodgett String Quartet Composition prize, George Arthur Knight Prize, Millenium Chamber Players competition prize, and the League of Composers/ISCM composition award. His music is published by BabelScores.
Tolga Yayalar is currently Assistant Professor of Music at the Bilkent University where he is also the coordinator for the composition program.