In 1969, George Crumb heard a tape recording of undersea sounds emitted by a humpback whale.
The experience never left him, and eventually inspired one of his most enigmatic pieces of music: Vox Balanae, or, Voice of the Whale.
It’s a perfect Manchester Collective piece, performed under blue light by anonymous, masked musicians, on instruments that are amplified and modified. It’s music from another world, an undersea world that audiences will experience on stage, together with our players.
Alongside Vox Balanae, we perform newly commissioned music by Alex Groves, Molly Joyce’s exuberant High and Low for solo piano, electro-acoustic madness from Andrew Hamilton, and Toru Takemitsu’s magical piano trio, Between Tides.
Voice of the Whale is in association with “Nature Unwrapped” at Kings Place, and is kindly supported by Arts Council England and the RVW Charitable Trust.
Leeds Town Hall Crypt
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
The White Hotel
Invisible Wind Factory
Oxford Contemporary Music
The Stoller Hall
Joyce High and Low
Groves New Work (World Premiere)
Takemitsu Between Tides
Hamilton In Beautiful May
Crumb Vox Balanae
Alex Groves Composer
Manchester Collective Ensemble
Alex Groves is a British composer and curator working across contemporary classical and electronic music. His work blends classical instruments, ambient textures and live-processed electronics to create uncanny soundworlds where the line between acoustic and electronic, real and imagined becomes blurred. It opens up an emotive space for the listener and, instead of guiding their emotions, allows them to explore themselves freely within the soundworld of the piece.
Alongside composing, Alex runs SOLO - a unique platform for leading contemporary classical soloists such as Liam Byrne, Daniel Pioro and Eliza McCarthy to explore the music they love in an intimate setting. Each gig features an eclectic setlist packed with formative influences, dream collaborations and new adventures, and is a chance for the audience to engage with the performers on a more personal level.
Most recently, Alex self-released his debut EP - Curved Form (No. 4) - a collaboration with Eliza which features the title track alongside remixes by Benjamin Tassie, Matt Huxley and Alex himself. Other recent work includes commissions for the London Contemporary Orchestra and Crash Ensemble, operas for English Touring Opera and ERRATICA, and residencies with Handel & Hendrix in London, Snape Maltings and the New Amsterdam Composers Lab.
His music has been presented at the Barbican Centre, Sage Gateshead, Royal Opera House, V&A, Union Chapel, National Theatre Studio, King's Place and Nonclassical, broadcast on NTS Radio, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music, and released on Bedroom Community.