March of the Music 2019

This is a movement I initiated with the aim of taking the young people who participated in the educational sessions to Terezin and allowing them to experience the place at first hand. I was very happy this summer to travel to Terezin with two Muslim students from the Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory. I sincerely hope I will be able to take more students to Terezin in the future. The festival, where I also gave concerts, began in Prague and continued in Terezin. The students had the opportunity to meet and converse with a Terezin survivor, attend other talks and concerts as well as visit the camp including its prison with me.

A significant condition laid down by the March of the Music Movement is that students should create taking inspiration from their experience. Accordingly, one of the two participants this year, the musicology student Engin Çetin wrote an article, and Akın Kilis composed “Stepwise to the Tenebrous Aura” for the Pierrot Ensemble. I dedicated long hours to contributing to their process of creation, which began during the festival and continued afterwards. Both students felt a strong need to share their Terezin experience. After I listened to what they had to say, we worked on their emotions together. They had many questions about history, Jewish music and what had happened in Terezin. I explained to them the recent memory work regarding the history of the Holocaust and advised them not to instrumentalise the things they heard during their visit in Terezin in their process of creation.   

Engin Çetin’s Experience in Terezin

I supervised Engin’s article; he approached his subject with sensitivity and wrote an excellent article. 

Akın Kilis’s experience in Terezin

We met on a weekly basis with Akın Kilis, who conducted a thorough research on Jewish music. I supervised the process carefully and provided advice on how he should use musical and textual quotations in his work. We talked long hours about how he can find his own language instead of instrumentalizing or copy-pasting what the composers had created. Now he can approach history in its own reality as separate from himself, getting it across in his own language in his creation. 

The publication and performance phases of both students’ works:

I made sure that Engin Çetin’s article is translated into English under his own supervision. He is currently translating it into German himself. The article will be published on the Holocaust Reality and Positive Resistance website, which is currently under construction. I have also arranged with the editor of Shalom that Çetin’s article should be available to the reading public on the pages of the weekly. In addition, I am searching for other outlets where the article can be published. 

I have made attempts for Akın Kilis’s composition to be performed in a festival in Hungary. 

I am making ongoing efforts for it to be played in various orchestral concerts.


With the collaboration of The Turkish Jewish Society and the “EVERLASTING HOPE: Gustav Mahler & Terezin Composers Foundation”, with which I am currently in partnership, The March of the Music started for the first time in August 2018 with the participation of musicology student Engin Çetin, who had taken educational sessions previously, and Akın Kilis, a student of composition. 

21-24 August 2018, “March of the Music”Activity with 2 Turkish/Muslim Students, Prague & Terezin

20-23 August 2019, “MARCH OF THE MUSIC” Terezin-Prague with 4 Muslim Students from different schools who attented to my “Positive Resistance Through Holocaust Reality” Educationnal Program at their schools.


Most of the young people participating in my educational sessions meet a Jewish person for the first time in their lives. During the educational sessions, I often receive questions about what it means to be Jewish, how Jewish people live –especially as members of a minority in another country. They would like to learn and understand. When the students of the Aziz Nesin School in Berlin met me in person in the educational sessions we held there, they were ashamed of the description “dirty Jew” as if it were them that had created it. It is highly significant that history be taught accurately, and when this is done through music, it is so touching to see the deep influence it leaves on students.  

The travel expenses (plane tickets, visas, and stipends) of the two students who visited Terezin this year were met by the Turkish Jewish Community, and their accommodation in Terezin by the Terezin Foundation, which I cooperate with. It was Akın Kilis’s first time abroad. Both students are grateful to the Turkish Jewish Community and the Initiative for supporting their trip to Terezin and their creation process afterwards. I will personally continue to support Akın Kilis and Engin Çetin, as I see and experience at first hand the enormous benefit of such activities in the fight against anti-Semitism.  

My ultimate goal is to transform the internal conflict of individuals into a positive strength regardless of their religion, language and race. This will open the pathway for internal and external peace, the pathway to the happiest place where individuals make the best of their talents, to creation that replaces destruction, and to taking care that replaces taking and having.

Renan Koen, pianist, composer,  music therapist, soprano