Originally published on Şalom on 08/02/19
Music is a language and Renan Koen’s fluency in it and passion for it make her message universal.
By Marilyn Lazar August 1, 2019 CANADIAN JEWISH NEWS
Music is a language and Renan Koen’s fluency in it and passion for it make her message universal. Our initial written communication reflects her halting, though charming, English. On FaceTime, however, her expressive description of the projects she’s spearheaded is informative and her enthusiasm carries the conversation.
The wind is blowing through her hair, creating a subtle whoosh sound in the background of our video call. When I comment on her choice to chat outside, she asks if it’s distracting. On the contrary, it actually reinforces her aura: she personifies a gust of fresh air, with views on music, history and life that are unique and inspiring.
Nothing in Koen’s Turkish background or demeanour prepares you for her commitment to Holocaust education, which she calls “an intense topic.”
Koen, a pianist, composer, soprano and music therapist, was born in Ankara, Turkey. She can trace her father’s family back 400 years, four generations of that with great specificity. They were Greek from the time of the Ottoman Empire. Hers was a Sephardic family that stopped in Kastoria when they left Spain and then moved to the south of Turkey for business reasons.
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