Watch + Listen: Fendi’s ‘Anima Mundi’ Series Travels to New York’s Juilliard School

Since it was launched this past June at Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Fendi Anima Mundi series has been a way for the exalted Italian fashion label to exhibit how culture both influences and flows from what they do. But translating to “World Soul,” it has also been about how live performance can overcome a global tragedy, especially at this time when concerts, symphonies, comedy shows…pretty much everything has been shut down.

This December, the series traveled to New York City, where Fendi would normally be putting on a dazzling show during NY Fashion Week, for the assembled cognoscenti. With no one assembling in any significant numbers, however, budding young musicians from Gotham’s exalted music academy The Juilliard School were brought together for a once in a lifetime, socially-distanced performance of an original, commissioned composition by Aaron Matson.

The result, directed by Nick Morgan Lieberman and pithily titled Anima Mundi – New York, is eight-minutes-and-forty-one-seconds of exhilarating reminder of how jazz endures as an art form that, despite having roots in cities like New Orleans and Kansas City, feels deeply intertwined with the soul of NYC. A group performance was filmed in Lincoln Center’s prestigious Appel Room, while solo performances were captured at various locations around the center, including Paul Hall, the Glorya Kaufman Dance Studio, and the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Making up the ephemeral but highly accomplished ensemble were saxophonist Colin Waters, trumpeter Summer Camargo, drummer TJ Reddick, bassist Jayla Chee, pianist Tyler Henderson, and trombonist Jasim Perales.

Looking as good as they sounded, each was asked to select an on-camera wardrobe from the FENDI Women’s and Men’s Fall Winter 2020-2021 Collections.

“Jazz symbolizes individual freedom, collective creativity and personal resilience,” observes Director of Juilliard Jazz Wynton Marsalis, “fundamental attributes needed to effectively navigate an increasingly complex world. New York is the quintessential modern metropolis, a cauldron of cutting-edge connectivity – and Juilliard brings youthful virtue, vigor and virtuosity to the timeless challenges of humanity…the art of mastering the moment with insight, execution and feeling. We are grateful to Fendi for supporting our student performing ensemble in a project that so optimistically addresses this very moment.” 

Of the series itself, Fendi Artistic Director Silvia Venturini Fendi enthuses, “The idea behind Anima Mundi was conceived during the darkest days of the pandemic in Italy, as a cause for hope, a reason to celebrate. It is now six months later that students from Juilliard are playing together for the first time in New York, marking the beginning of a new year that also brings with it hope for our global community.”

Once again, music saves the day.

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