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Novel Voices in New Jersey - #50Days4Refugees

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The #50Days4Refugees podcast series walks through the Duo's past year of travels with the Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project. The 10 episodes cover 50 days for listeners to meet and engage with the people, places, life-stories, cultures, music, and organizations associated with refugee camps and and communities around the globe.

Listen to Novel Voices podcast #3 with violist Molly Carr and pianist Anna Petrova. Moving on from Jelling Refugee Center to next locations - New York & New Jersey. Includes;

Day 12: "The United Nations" - The path of bringing this project to life ended up being a unique mixture of blood, sweat and tears - often feeling like every fiber of the world around us was resisting any tiny step ahead, relentlessly attempting to hold us back - together with shockingly uplifting moments of almost absurd amounts of support just dropped on us out of the blue. 

One of these absurd moments came when we received a call from the Assistant General Secretary at the United Nations and International Affairs asking if we would like to come speak about our Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project and perform a concert inspired by the 10 Acts for the Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants, in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights in NYC (to which we said - YES!!!!!!). Having the chance to perform for and later speak with and get to know an audience filled with NGO's from around the world - all doing much-needed work in the world of refugees - lifted our hearts and spirits, and proved also to be very useful in connecting us with a support system for the various unexpected needs that popped up throughout the remainder of our year of travels (such as calling up HER ROYAL HIGHNESS Elizabeth of the Danish-German royalty to help us find a Danish-Arabic-English translator last-minute from her castle on the Baltic Sea… - Whaaaaaaa????!!! YUP! That really happened!!!! We're still picking our jaws up off the ground a year later after that one!). (SURPRISE EMOJI) It was quite heartening and encouraging to know that we were connected to a network of humans doing beautiful things all around the world every moment of every day - ready at a moment's notice to jump to one another's aid. 

Today's clip is taken from our closing selection from that evening's performance at the United Nations: a meditative excerpt taken from the "Quartet for the End of Time" - a piece written by Olivier Messaien while he was imprisoned in a German POW camp during the Second World War. Rather than close this concert with a standard and expected rousing or virtuosic final selection, we instead chose to end with a contemplative musical prayer which blended both Messaien's dreams of a more just society in a time after the end of Time, together with the injunction of the 10th Act in the Global Compact on Refugees and Migrants - which seeks to one day build a rights-based world which eliminates the reasons behind humans becoming refugees, and one which offers the possibility of free, voluntary, protected, transparent, and accountable global migration. 

Day 13: "The Ramazanis" - One of the goals of this project was to immerse ourselves in and learn from all of the different types of music we came in contact with along our journey. These little musical glimpses into other cultures served as the inspiration for the project's commissioned work Novel Voices by our project's composer, Fernando Arroyo Lascurain (coming out soon on our Novel Voices album!). 

Please enjoy this clip of our new friends, the Ramazanis, singing a song from their native country: Congo. We had a blast breaking apart the rhythms in this song during our musical workshop, in order to build an entirely new rhythmic piece by overlapping and clapping the different rhythms simultaneously and polyphonically. (And let it be known: the Ramazanis put these conservatory-trained musicians to shame with their complex rhythmic abilities!!)  

Day 14: "Mkimbizi [refugee in Swahili]" - The Democratic Republic of Congo is notoriously known as the "Rape Capital of the World," where the prevalence and intensity of all forms of sexual violence has been described as the worst on our planet. In the US report on Human Rights Practices, the DRC was reported as a country where security forces and numerous armed groups continue to kill, abduct, torture, and rape civilians, and burn and destroy villages. The security forces and armed groups continue to use sexual violence with impunity as weapons of war and to humiliate and punish victims, families, and communities. 

Numerous people are fleeing the country for these many reasons. Nestor shared with us about the road they had to take in order to arrive to the US. We will be sharing more about the Congo conflicts in our future posts related to the work of RefuSHE @WeAreRefuSHE - another non-profit we are partnering with who provides incredible help to refugee girls and women fleeing Congo and the surrounding countries into Kenya. 

Day 15 - 16: "Lost in Translation"  - Securing translators at each of the locations we visited in order to ensure our thoughts and workshop ideas were communicated clearly across multiple languages was just one of the many challenges we faced along the way… After our originally-appointed translator had a last-minute change of plans, finding a Swahili translator in New Jersey for our Novel Voices workshop on Oct. 4th, was close to impossible. We were almost a whole hour into our #RAP workshop when Regina, a NJ resident originally from Kenya, arrived to save the day - rescuing us from our embarrassing efforts of speaking French, gesturing and acting, in an attempt to relay the story of Romeo and Juliet across three languages! (LAUGHING EMOJI) 

Hilarious attempt to explain Romeo and Juliet through gestures and giggles. Through this hour-long (and frustrating!) experience of not being able to understand or speak the same language, we got a tiny taste of how our new refugee friends must feel when starting their new lives in a new country: trapped in a new existence of not being able to understand anything and not able to explain or express themselves fully to others around them.

The Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project, created and directed by the Carr-Petrova Duo, is designed to give voice and visibility, through music and film, to the lives and struggles of both local and international refugee communities, and to encourage audiences and artists alike to become connected and involved.

Produced & Narrated by Max Horowitz - Crossover Media

This content, as well as the related podcast, are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) for redistribution and adaptation.