Manchester Collective: Voice of the Whale

Experience one of the most enigmatic pieces of music ever written underneath the Museum’s whale skeletons.

About this Event

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 Balaenae, or, Voice of the Whale.

For this special one-off concert – and for the first time in its history – the piece will be performed by Manchester Collective underneath real whale skeletons at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Contemplating the passage of time and man’s relationship to nature, Vox Balaenae is a truly sensory experience. It’s played under blue light by anonymous masked musicians, evoking a wondrous undersea world of sound. Audiences will be able to experience the piece in close proximity to the players, after being shown a selection of whale specimens up close by Museum experts.

Alongside Vox Balaenae, Manchester Collective will perform newly commissioned music by Alex Groves, Steve Reich’s exuberant Vermont Counterpoint for electric flute, electro-acoustic madness from Andrew Hamilton, and Toru Takemitsu’s magical piano trio, Between Tides.


Manchester Collective create radical human experiences through live music. Since their first set of “powerful, moving and extraordinary” shows in 2017, the work of the Collective has expanded at breakneck speed. They now play in concert halls, warehouses and factory spaces in 18 cities across the UK and Europe, performing a combination of cutting-edge new music, classical masterpieces and staged theatrical work to a hungry, new audience.

“Brilliant” ★★★★ The Observer


“Catch it if you can – the future has arrived” Bachtrack


For this event, we are trying out a new ticket pricing system. Instead of basing our prices on your age or employment status, we are asking audiences to select a ticket price based on what you can afford to spend.

Presented by OCM (Oxford Contemporary Music). OCM brings music, artists and audiences together in ways that encourage and create memorable and meaningful experiences for all.

Voice of the Whale is presented in association with “Nature Unwrapped” at Kings Place. Supported by Arts Council England and the RVW Charitable Trust.