The Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project was created and directed by the Carr-Petrova Duo in 2018. The original iteration of the project consisted of dozens of live concerts and collaborative workshops presented in refugee camps around the world. The Duo, together with two film-makers and a composer, visited locations in Palestine, Bulgaria, Denmark, New Jersey, New York City, California and Kentucky. Filmakers Skyler Knutzen and Victoria Stevens filmed the team’s activities in order to create an upcoming documentary about the project; composer Fernando Arroyo Lascurain took part in the duo’s collaborative workshops with refugee audiences where he had the opportunity to listen to the folk music, poetry, stories, and dances from the diverse cultures of those with whom the Duo worked. These included music and rhythms from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bulgarian folk rhythms, music by the all-female choir in Palestine; sounds representing traditional Arab instruments including the oud and qanun, as well as original music composed during workshops with children from Syria, Afghanistan, and many other countries which are suffering ongoing conflict. Fernando interwove these elements into an original piece for the Carr-Petrova Duo which was premiered in Carnegie Hall in 2019 and recorded on the Duo’s debut album.
This is how Novel Voices was born. The project was the winner of the Music Academy of the West Alumni Enterprise Award and was featured at the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations, in New York City, 2018. Due to its rapidly growing popularity and unique story, the Reno Chamber Orchestra commissioned Fernando to turn the duo version of the Novel Voices piece into a duo concerto with string orchestra.