” From blue-note trillings to quasi-industrial buzzing, Kljuco wrings extraordinary sounds from her instrument and the sheer Dostoevskian relentlessness leaves you weirdly elated.”
Concert accordionist Merima Ključo performs internationally as a recitalist and has been guest soloist with many orchestras, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Holland Symphonia, and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. As soloist, she has participated in a number of renowned festivals, including the St. Magnus Festival (Scotland), the City of London Festival, the Gaudeamus Festival (Amsterdam), and the Gubaidulina Festival, which honored one of the greatest composers of our time, Sofia Gubaidulina, in celebration of her 75th birthday.
She was a member of the Checkpoint KBK with Iva Bittova and David Krakauer, and Serendipity 4 with singers Theodore Bikel and Shura Lipovsky, and pianist Tamara Brooks, and was a frequent guest of MusikFabrik, the Asko/Schönberg Ensemble and the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble. Her performances have been broadcast by the BBC and by networks all around Europe, North America and Australia.
Ključo composes and arranges, and collaborates with many composers. She has contributed music to the films “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, written and directed by Angelina Jolie, with a score by the Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared, and “Jack”, by Sergej Kreso, among others, and has performed in the documentary films “Journey 4 Artists”, by Michele Noble, and “Stories of Sevdah”, by Robert Golden.
In 2006 she was asked by the Bayerischer Rundfunk to compose music for the radio drama “Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert”, based on the book by Saša Stanišić, and directed by Leonhard Koppelmann. The production is published as an audio book by Random House.
Opera and theatre companies with whom Ključo has performed include the National Jewish Theater, Bremer Theater, and the Nederlandse Kinder Theater. She has collaborated with prize-winning theatre directors Daniel Landau, Derek Goldman and Haris Pasović among others.
Merima Ključo was invited to perform and compose music (along with the pianist and conductor Tamara Brooks) for “Sholom Alechiem: Laughter Through Tears”, a one-man play, written and performed by the legendary actor and singer Theodore Bikel. Produced by the National Jewish Theater, it played in Washington DC, Florida, Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco and New York from 2009 to 2012.
In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Siege of Sarajevo in 2012, the EastWest Theater Company and the renowned Bosnian theater director Haris Pašović invited Merima as music director to compose, arrange and perform “Sarajevo Red Line” (“Sarajevska Crvena Linija”). The piece, which incorporated traditional and pop songs, as well as classical music – music with deep cultural significance, was performed on April 6, 2012 to an audience of 11,541 empty red chairs lining the main boulevard in Sarajevo, with one chair for every life lost in the siege. On that day, thousands of people from all walks of life congregated to witness and remember.
Her most recent multimedia work “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book” (for accordion, piano and video, 2014) traces the dramatic story of one of Jewish culture’s most treasured manuscripts. Using the musical traditions of Spain, Italy, Austria, and Bosnia-Herzegovina Ključo illustrates and illuminates the Haggadah’s travels from medieval Spain to 20th century Bosnia where it was hidden and rescued during World War II, to its restoration by the National Museum in Sarajevo after the 1992-1995 war. Inspired by the historical novel by Pulitzer‐Prize winning author Geraldine Brooks, “The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book” creatively interprets this miraculous artifact as a universal symbol of exile, return, and co‐existence.
The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book was commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Culture. Touring venues include the world premiere at Yellow Barn (Putney, VT), Arsenal Center for the Arts (Boston, MA), Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX), The Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco, CA), Texas Performing Arts (Austin, TX), The Morgan Museum & Library (NewYork, NY), and others.
Traditional music inspired Ključo from an early age and has brought a unique dimension to her work. As the producer, composer, and arranger for her highly rated album “Zumra” (Gramofon, 2009/ Harmonia Mundi UK / World Village 2010), which featured the Bosnian traditional singer Amira, she has created a multi-layered classical interpretation of a musical tradition she treasures. Her compositions and arrangements are original and contemporary in their juxtaposition of extended techniques with traditional musical forms. The album was voted by The Sunday Times (UK) as one of the “Top 100″ albums of 2010″, as well as fourth in “Top 10 World Music Albums”.
Most of the songs on the Zumra album are from Ključo’s song cycle Sevdah Songs I, composed between 2006-2008. In 2013 she composed Sevdah Songs II. Next to the Bosnian traditional elements, this composition also includes a song from the Bosnian Sephardic tradition. Songs of love and desire, but also some rebellious breaking up with the tradition.
In 2009 and 2012, Schott Music published her books “Eastern European Folk Tunes for Accordion” and “Klezmer and Sephardic Tunes for Accordion”.
Her solo album “Couperin Visiting the Balkans” is released in 2014, featuring guest artists: soprano Ariadne Greif, pianist Danny Holt, guitarist Miroslav Tadić and legendary Theodore Bikel.
Merima Ključo has given workshops and master classes in conservatories and universities all over the world, including the Guildhall School of Music (England), the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the New England Conservatory (USA), Syracuse, Georgetown, Austin, Chicago Universities (USA), and she was a faculty member at Yellow Barn during the 2011 summer season.
She studied accordion at the Srednja Muzička Škola in Sarajevo, continued her studies with Miny Dekkers at the Rotterdam Conservatory, and after graduation she was granted a special postgraduate scholarship for exceptional talent to study at the University of the Arts Bremen, where she studied with Margit Kern, graduating with a cum laude.