Concert accordionist Merima Ključo imbues a dizzying variety of music with playing that moves with its depth of understanding and experience.
With a background in contemporary music, she 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.
Her 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 People of the Book 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 included 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),
Cleveland Museum of Art, (Cleveland, OH) and the National Gallery (Washington DC), ao.
Ključo also orchestrated The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book for the CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, It saw its premiere in March 2018. The orchestration was commissioned by CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, and received major support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant,
In 2017 and 2018 she was composer and music director for two very successful theater plays at the Zagreb Youth Theater: Orchestra Rehearsal based on Federico Fellini's movie and The Notebook based on the book by Ãgota Kristòf, both directed by Edvin Liverić
Next to Croatia The Notebook was successfully received in Israel, Hungary and Czech Republic.
In 2019 Ključo composed music for documentary Little Star Rising by Sladjana Lučić. The movie is premiered the same year at the renown Sarajevo Film Festival and since then screened at different film festivals around the world.
Traditional music also 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".
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.
In 2016 Ključo released album Aritmia together with world renown guitarist Miroslav Tadić. Aritmia features music by Bela Bartok, Erik Satie, Manuel de Falla and their own compositions and improvisations based on traditional music of Eastern Europe.
In 2017 renowned Croatian pianist Matija Dedić invited Merima as a special guest on his album Male Ljubavi. In 2018 they received the biggest Croatian music award Porin for the best instrumental performance of the year as well as for the best instrumental album.
In 2018 she produced album Lume with extraordinary contralto Jelena Milušić. Lume contains 10 love songs from different parts of
the world and a 5 songs cycle Snovidjenje, based on Romanian, Croatian, Kosovo and Sephardic traditional pieces, composed by Ključo. The album is highly praised for its innovative and expressive musical language.
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 and 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.
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 prominent networks around the globe such as BBC, PBS and PRI.
Next to her solo career Ključo focuses her work on composing, arranging and performing music for variety of projects in theater and film.
Ključo also 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. She performed in the documentary films Journey 4 Artists, by Michele Noble, and Stories of Sevdah, by Robert Golden.
For the Bayerischer Rundfunk she composed 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, Nederlandse Kinder Theater, EastWest Theater Company and Zagreb Youth Theater.
She has collaborated with prize-winning theatre directors Daniel Landau, Derek Goldman, Haris Pašović and Edvin Liverić, among others.
Merima Ključo composed and performed music 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 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.