Edmund de Waal at the Frieze art fair, London, 2016

Edmund de Waal is working on a Wayne McGregor ballet

The ceramicist and Phaidon author is designing a new production based on Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms

In 1965 the American composer Leonard Bernstein was asked to create a piece for a festival of religious music at Chichester Cathedral in southern Britain. Bernstein created Chichester Psalms, a challenging choral work that sets passages from the Book of Psalms to music.

The piece has remained popular with ecclesiastical settings, yet next year, to mark the centenary of Bernstein’s birth, London’s Royal Opera House will present the work to an entirely new audience, with the help of the ceramicist and Phaidon author, Edmund de Waal.


A change in the weather (2007) by Edmund de Waal. Photo courtesy Roche Court Sculpture Park
A change in the weather (2007) by Edmund de Waal. Photo courtesy Roche Court Sculpture Park

De Waal will collaborate with the renowned British choreographer Wayne McGregor on a work for the opera house’s 2018 ballet season, set to Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. The author and ceramicist will serve as a designer on this as-yet-untitled production.

Does this job suit him? Well, de Waal comes from an ecclesiastical background; his father was Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. Yet, more importantly, he creates not only ceramic vessels, but also oversees the creation of vitrines and other presentation devices, which in a chat with Phaidon.com at Frieze last year Edmund likened to the arrangement of words on a page.

As publishers of Edmund's books and huge fans of Wayne McGregor's recent work with the brilliant Max Richter we can't wait to find out what this new collaboration will bring to the stage. In the meantime, to gain a better understanding of this important ceramicist and writer, order a copy of our Edmund de Waal book here; and for a wider overview of contemporary ceramics you really need to pre-order your copy of Vitamin C.