Merima Ključo – The Sarajevo-Haggadah: Music of the Book
The music and musicianship of the charismatic Bosnian accordionist and composer, Merima Ključo, and her bold approach to composing is elevating music for accordion to new heights. In her original composition, The Sarajevo Haggadah, she uses the musical traditions of Spain, Italy, Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina to tell the amazing story of a centuries long journey of a small Jewish prayer book, the Haggadah, from the 15th century Spain, where it was carefully crafted by the finest artisans, to the turn-of-the century Bosnia where it was saved from the flames by a friendly hand. Together with the musical journey of the Haggadah, video artist Bart Woodstrup created a visual backdrop to the music that subtly interweaves the imagery of the Sarajevo Haggadah with elements of the book’s history.
In Merima´s own words: "In the historical novel The People of the Book, author Geraldine Brooks relates the story that the Haggadah was beautifully illustrated in order for a deaf child to follow and understand it." Inspired by Brooks´ book, Merima wrote the music, while, inspired by the textures found in the illustrations, as well as the stains and signs of aging found in the book, Woodstrup literally “illuminates” and animates those elements with a variety of digital techniques. His animations are almost entirely composed of imagery from the book, yet arranged in an abstract way.
The story of the Sarajevo´s Haggadah [Haggadah is the Hebrew word for “telling” and refers to the text recited on the first nights of the Jewish Passover, including the story of the Exodus] was fairly well known in the post-war Bosnia. Sarajevans had endured the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. It lasted 1,425 days, almost full four years (one year longer than the Leningrad siege). In the night from August 25 to 26, 1992, the Sarajevo´s National Library, the symbol of the multi-cultural history and identity of both Sarajevans and Bosnians in general, was the target of a savage attack by cannons of Bosnian Serb forces, positioned all around the city. The imposing 19th Century building was burned to the ground and the Library lost 80 percent of its content, amounting to some three million books that went up in flames, along with hundreds of original documents from the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Countless artifacts were destroyed too. It was a deliberate attack on the cultural identity of a people. A new word had even to be coined to describe this tragedy, culturcide. This concert and Merima´s music are a living example that music can help us overcome the differences created by our identities and thus star to heal and live peacefully along one another, capable of loving and accepting those who are different.