He received both Master of Music and PhD degrees on classical guitar from Istanbul Technical University, Center for Advanced Studies in Music where he studied with Soner Egesel and Bekir Küçükay. His PhD thesis is entitled ‘The Adaptation of Baglama Techniques into Classical Guitar Performance’ and it is published by VDM Publishing in 2011.
He designed the Adjustable Microtonal Guitar in 2008. His first CD with microtonal guitar, Atlas, was published in 2012 by Kalan Music. Tolgahan has built a unique repertoire of works for microtonal guitar by collaborating with 24 composers up to now.
His microtonal and fretless guitar duo ‘Microtonal Guitar Duo’ and lecture recital ‘Microtonal Guitar Music’ takes him to many festivals, universities and conferences such as New York Guitar Festival, Iserlohn Guitar Festival, Zihuatanejo Guitar Festival, Brno Guitar Festival, Sarajevo Guitar Festival, Santo Tirso Guitar Festival, Malaysia CGS Guitar Festival, Plovdiv Guitar Festival, Postojna Guitar Festival, Balkan Micro Fest, Alessandria Echos Festival, University of Athens, University of Surrey, Aberdeen University, University of Memphis, Mozarteum University, Wien University, Codarts University, Toronto York University, Bristol University, Berlin Universitat der Kunste, Estonian Academy of Music, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, Ljubljana University, Aveiro University, Bucharest Cultural Center, Venice Biennale, Brest Modal Music Conference and 4. Hawaii Conference on Arts and Humanities.
He founded the classical guitar duo ‘Duoist’ with Erhan Birol in 2007. The duo’s CD, It Takes Two (Pan Classics, 2011), features a collection of world premiers commissioned by the duo over the past decade. It is hailed by Soundboard’s Al Kunze as ‘Very cool stuff! Melody, meter, harmony, timbre, percussion effects and tuning are all exploited in original and exciting ways. When Bartok and Dusan Bogdanovic are the conservative composers on a disc, you know you are on the new ground’.
In 2014, he received two prestigious awards: 1st Prize in Margaret Guthman Musical Instruments Competition at Georgia Tech University and “Special Award” in 5. Donizetti Classical Music Awards.
He founded the classical guitar department at Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music State Conservatory in 2010. He became an Associate Professor in 2013. Tolgahan now lives in Istanbul, Turkey where he teaches at Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music Conservatory (High School and Undergraduate) and Center for Advanced Studies in Music (Graduate and PhD)