About the Tar Sands Songbook

An illuminating work of documentary theater, The Tar Sands Songbook asks us to reconsider our unseen relationships with oil. Creator Tanya Kalmanovitch knows these relationships all too well. Born in Fort McMurray, Canada, near the site of the Athabasca Oil Sands, the world’s largest bitumen reservoir, she made her decision to become a musician as a teenager because “it had nothing to do with oil.” Fort McMurray has since become a flashpoint of international clashes over energy, the environment, and the economy. Kalmanovitch's polyphonic piece weaves together her virtuosic storytelling with an original, improvised score. The words of Indigenous activists, engineers, heavy equipment operators, elders, oil patch workers, scientists, and those of her own family fuel discussions of our past and the powerful forces that shape our future. 

Project Trailer

About Tanya Kalmanovitch

Tanya Kalmanovitch is a Canadian polymath known for her breadth of inquiry and restless sense of adventure. Trained at the Juilliard School, her work as a violist bridges classical, jazz and experimental improvised music and has been profiled in Jazz Times, DownBeat, the Globe and Mail and the New York Times. Kalmanovitch’s research in theoretical psychology and ethnomusicology has explored the history of science, postcolonial identities and musical globalization and has been published in The American Psychologist, World of Music and New Sound. She is an Associate Professor at Mannes School of Music at The New School, Affiliated Faculty at the Tishman Environment and Design Centre and a 2017-2018 GIDEST fellow. She performs and teaches regularly in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, and also serves a faculty member at Boston’s New England Conservatory in Boston.


Booking performances living rooms, classrooms and community halls along the path Alberta oil takes into the global market.


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Tanya Kalmanovitch is currently working on a book about the Tar Sands, her encounter with a changed landscape.


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