She started her studies in music with the flute in 1979, when the conductor of the Amherst College Choir discovered her talent during his stay in İstanbul for the International Music Festival. She started studying piano in 1983 with the composer Ali Darmar, and the “State Artist” Ayşegül Sarıca. Meanwhile, she received her secondary school degree from the flute studio of “Nazım Acar” at Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory.
Between 1985 and 1986, she furthered her studies in piano in Paris with Germaine Mounier. In 1990-1991 she continued her studies in London with the pedagogue Maria Curcio and her assistant Mark Swartzentruber.
1995 brought her prizes in various competitions. She received the fourth prize in the “Chopin Etudes” competition hosted by Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory. She was awarded the second prize for her interpretation of a Cemal Reşit Rey composition entitled “Improvisation” in the competition held in honor of the composer. In that same year, she graduated from the piano studio of Judith Uluğ at Mimar Sinan University State Conservatory.
While continuing her career as a pianist, she developed an intense interest in the authentic melodies of both Anatolia and various musics of the world. In order to enrich these melodies further with a touch of the West, she worked on composition and electro-composition techniques with Dr. Pieter Snapper and studied composition theory and jazz harmony with Reuben de Lautour.
The artist who believes deeply in the bonding power and healing mission of music completed the Art et Qualite de Vie – L’art en Prevention Therapie et Pedagogie” program, certified by the European Music Therapy Federation under the tutelage of psychologist-pedagogue and music therapist Lianna Polychroniadou Prinou. The same year she became the first female Turkish member of “La Societe Hellenique du Musicotherapie et Expression Creative“ Federation.
As she started to specialize more in music-therapy, Koen was able to develop her own unique music-therapy method. Thanks to her training both as a music-therapist and a composer Koen was able to trace the ways in which “the sound bank” of and individual (collection of sound memorabilia) affects the ways he perceives life. This method was found so promising in the field of music-therapy in Europe that she was invited as a speaker to many World Music-Therapy congresses in Greece, Portugal and Austria.
Renan Koen took voice lessons from Soprano Ece Idil between 2012-2013 and has been working Assistant Prof. Şebnem Ünal (Soprano) ever since.Between 1993-2009 Renan Koen conducted research on her project “Musical Interactions in World Music” with soprano Sebnem Unal which culminated in the Turkish premier of the 13 Spanish Folksongs of Federico Garcia Lorca. Between 2003-2009 the duo joined forces with other distinguished musicians to form their chamber music ensemble “Melodias Epicas” and worked together on their project called “Simultaneous Impressions”.
Renan Koen has actively been involved in many projects including her curatorship (2008-2009) for the contemporary music festival Yeno Ceno organized by Galata Perform which has lately started including contemporary art in its portfolio.
In addition to her chamber music performances, Renan Koen plays as a soloist both in recitals and orchestra concerts.
In 2008, Koen released her solo piano album Köprüler/Bridges” with the Taxim Edition/Universal Record label. In 2014 came her second album which centers around the story of her own family. The album is composed of her own compositions inspired by authentic Sephardic folk songs of the Aegean, Middle-East, Anatolia ;and Synagogue hymns. In this album, Koen’s contribution extended also to playing the piano-armonium and singing the soprano part.
In this album entitled “Lost Traces, Hidden Memories” Koen collaborated with many eminent musicians such as Sasha Rozhdestvensky (violin), Sedef Ercetin (cello), Elif Kantarci (viola), Derya Turkan (kemanche), Ozer Özel (yaylı/mizrapli tanbur), Ertan Tekin (Duduk), Mehmet Akatay (percussions) and Kemal Akdogan (Tenor). The album was released by Kalan Music Productions.
Renan Koen’s 3. album has released in Novermber 24, 2015 which same day with installtion of Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (in November 24 1941) by Kalan Müzik. This project, “Holocaust Remebrance/Before Sleep (composed of cd+dvd+booklet)”, documents the research conducted by Renan Koen into the life-stories, ideals and works of composers who continued to create notwithstanding the prohibitions imposed on them while being imprisoned in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during the Second World War.
“Renan Koen – Piano Works by Ali̇ Darmar”, on which pianist, composer, soprano and music therapist Renan Koen interprets the piano works of her teacher Ali̇ Damar, has been released by Li̇la Müzi̇k.
There are two suprises on this album, which has been prepared by Renan Koen in homage to her teacher Ali̇ Darmar: the first of these is the performance of the composer’s out of silence by doyenne musicians Ala Erduran and Ayşegül Sarıca. The other is the recording by Renan Koen with young pianist Emi̇r İlgen, who has received many awards and whose name will be heard frequently in coming years.
In addition to outstanding samples of their works for piano and chorus, about which information is provided in the booklet, enthusiasts can also lend an ear to real-life stories from the war and interviews with survivors’ families. We extend our thanks and appreciation to the Quincentennial Foundation, Anadolu Kültür, the Kariyo & Ababay Foundation and Dr. Erol Hakanoğlu for their generous support.
Koen performed the Turkish premiers of the piano and chorus works of the above-mentioned composers first in İstanbul in April 2015 and then in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, in April 2016 with the collaboration of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) Turkish Embassy in Romania, Romanian Jewish Community, and the Turkish Businessmen Association of Romania. On account of these premiers, where she performed the piano and chorus works of Haas, Ullmann, Klein and Schull, and her efforts to publish the life-stories of these composers in Turkish, Renan Koen was invited to the Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices 2nd International Symposium at the Colburn School (Los Angeles) on October 8th 2016. Thanks to the concert focusing on the works of Viktor Ullmann and Gideon Klein’s piano works, which she also played on her cd “Holocaust Remembrance/ Before Sleep” and the conference she gave on the lives of the composers, and in Koen’s own terms, the “positive resistance” these composers were able to maintain in the Terezin concentration camp, Koen was able to get in touch with an audience in Los Angeles just as sensitive to the subject after İstanbul, İzmir and Bucharest (Romania).
Since 2016, with the collaboration of Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and some other NGOs Renan Koen most of the time performed the premiers of the piano works of Theresienstadt Getto&Concentration Camp Composers Viktor Ullmann and Gideon Klein in many countries such as Brasil, France, Spain, USA, South Africa, Germany as well as United Nations in New York, and many orthers. YAD VASHEM Center has included Koen’s 3rd album in their list of references and library catalogue.
Koen released her 4th album “Renan Koen Plays Ali Darmar ” dedicated to “My Mentor” as she calls it to her 38 years teacher Composer Ali Darmar. The album was released by Lila Muzik in January 2020. She created an educational program for youth “Positive Resistance Though Holocaust Reality” and she is continuing to teach Holocaust trough music them since 2016. She also created a youth action called “March of the Music” to visit and experience Terezin with young people. As a condition of this action she asks youth to create some works according to their talent or education for the outcome of this trip. As a continuation of this program. Koen promotes youth’s works around the world. She has her column “Positif Direnç (Positive Resistance)” at Salom Newspaper about Holocaust, Theresienstadt Composers, March of the Music Action and Music&Socail Action.
In July 2021 Koen released her book Positive Resistance both in Tıurkish and English by Gözlem Yayıncılık and March of the Music dijital music album of March of the Music action’s students by Lila Müzik.
ANTISEMITISM, HOLOCAUST, POSTWAR
“Anti Semitism: From Its Origins To The Present” – Yad Vashem
“The Holocaust An Introduction (I): Nazi Germany: Ideology, The Jews and the World” – Yad Vashem&Tel Aviv University
“The Holocaust An Introduction (II): The Final Solution” – Yad Vashem&Tel Aviv University
“Chosen Issues In Holocaust History” -Yad Vashem
“Teaching The Holocaust” – University College London
“In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting” – Museum of Modern Art.
“Marking Kristallnacht through a Social Justice Lens” by Echoes and Reflections; ADL, USC, Yad Vashem
“Music and Social Action” – Yale University
“Community Organizing For Social Justice” – Michigan University.
“Using The Pyramid of Hate to Expand Social Justice” by Echoes and Reflections; ADL, USC, Yad Vashem
“Gender and Sexuality: Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace” by Pittsburgh University
“Feminism and Social Justice” – University of California, Santa Cruz
“Psychological First Aid” – Johns Hopkins University
“The Science of Well-Being” – Yale University
MUSIC THERAPY & IMPROVISATION & ART THERAPY COACHING
“Art et Qualite de Vie – L’art en Prévention Thérapie et Pédagogie” program, certified by the European Music Therapy Federation.
“Therapeutic Art Life Coach” accredited program.
“How Music Can Change Your Life” – The University of Melbourne.
“Buddhism and Modern Psychology” – Princeton University.
“Jazz Improvisation” -Berklee College of Music