EXCLUSIVE: Fendi, Juilliard Jazz Students Collaborate on Anima Mundi Project
MILAN — Fendi has succeeded in pulling off quite the feat.
With the goal of honoring resilience and rebirth, and despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian luxury house has staged four Fendi Renaissance: Anima Mundi events around the world, which began in Rome last June and is culminating — for the time being — in New York, in a collaboration with The Juilliard School.
“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, with artists coming together for the first time to perform Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ at our headquarters in Rome at the Summer Solstice,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, artistic director of accessories and men’s wear. “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 cause for hope for our global community.”
While classical music was central to the previous performances in Rome, Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul, Fendi chose to highlight the talent of young jazz musicians at the Juilliard School, in light of the American tradition of the genre and its ability to create communities throughout the world.
In line with Fendi’s longtime support of artists, the company has started a donation program with the leading school in performing arts education. The donation to Juilliard will be channeled toward student scholarships in the disciplines of music, dance and drama.
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“Beyond our admiration for the dedication of the students to have reached the level of achievement having been accepted to the esteemed Juilliard School in their respective disciplines, our shared obsession with craft and the importance that arts play in giving back to society is the reason we at Fendi chose to make a meaningful donation to Juilliard,” said Serge Brunschwig, chairman and chief executive officer of the Rome-based company, declining to reveal the amount.
The New York leg of the Fendi Renaissance: Anima Mundi project will bow on Jan. 12 on Fendi’s and Juilliard’s official websites, but the six student musicians from the Juilliard Jazz Studies Program were filmed in December. They had only just begun in-person work on campus a month earlier. In accordance with the necessary safety protocols due to the pandemic, they began rehearsing an original score composed by a master’s student, Aaron Matson, “Rollerblading in Harlem,” commissioned by Fendi for this series.
For this project, the students performed together for the first time since New York City shut down in mid-March 2020. Wearing self-selected Fendi clothes from the women’s and men’s fall 2020-21 collections, they performed following Juilliard’s strict protocols around social distancing and the use of face masks for the students and specially designed PPE for their instruments.
The Juilliard Jazz students Ben Vogel – courtesy image
The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, based on a design of a Greek amphitheater and overlooking Central Park, served as the backdrop of the performance of the ensemble when they were playing together. Solos by the students were filmed in various locations around Lincoln Center and Juilliard’s performing arts venues, including Paul Hall, Glorya Kaufman Dance Studio and the Peter Jay Sharp Theater.
“Between the summer solstice and the winter equinox, we have been able to reunite musicians to play music meant to uplift the communal spirit in cities from Rome, to Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul and New York City,” said Cristiana Monfardini, Fendi’s chief communications officer, who planned and organized the project. “No one could have anticipated how the idea behind Anima Mundi would evolve based on the historic events of the past year. We are just so proud that Fendi has played some small part in bringing hope and joy in the form of music performed by artists who had been forced into isolation by the pandemic, and were reunited by this project.”
Julliard Jazz, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is led by renowned trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, a Juilliard alumnus. The school was founded in 1905.
“Our Juilliard students are very excited to be included in this unique, global artistic statement,” Marsalis said. “Fendi has created a provocative suite of episodes showcasing great music, set against iconic architecture, featuring engaging musicians decked out in the elegant clothes and accessories of Fendi. It is fitting that jazz, New York and Juilliard close out this suite. Jazz symbolizes individual freedom, collective creativity and personal resilience — 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 current pandemic has given us an unpredictable set of ever-changing variables. Perfect for jazz! The art of mastering the moment with insight, execution and feeling.”
The students include saxophonist Colin Waters; trumpeter Summer Camargo; drummer Taurien Reddick; bassist Jayla Chee; pianist Tyler Henderson, and trombonist Jasim Perales, and were directed by Nick Morgan Lieberman.
Fendi has in the past collaborated with a range of diverse artists spanning from Nicki Minaj to Hong Kong singer and dancer Jackson Wang.
The social media reach of the four previous videos totaled 34.7 million and the total views amounted to 6.3 million. Total impressions reached 273 million.
In Rome, where the first Anima Mundi event was staged, Fendi partnered with the 16th-century Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, one of the most storied music institutions in the world, to stream a performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Estate [Summer]” from the “Four Seasons.” It was held at the company’s headquarters in the Italian capital, at the Palazzo della Civiltà, also known as the Square Colosseum, last June.
Inspired by the Anima Mundi, or the soul of the universe, philosophical concept, the performance was filmed throughout the Palazzo della Civiltà, with the first movement at dawn, on the steps of the building, and then under the arches, maintaining the necessary social distance. In the end, the musicians regrouped at sunset on the rooftop of the palazzo.
In July, Anima Mundi moved to Shanghai, collaborating with Poly Performing Arts Co. Ltd., where baritone and opera singer Jia Fan, pianist Shen Zeyu and an orchestra composed by violinist Yang Han and seven young musicians performed by the Huangpu River.
In September, Fendi teamed with the Tokyo University of the Arts, when students Rio Arai, a violinist, and Kohei Ueno a saxophonist, played the finale of Gioachino Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” on the panoramic terrace Shibuya Sky.
In Seoul last month, Fendi collaborated with chamber orchestra Sejong Soloists, which played Vivaldi at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), which was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and is the world’s largest three-dimensional amorphous architectural structure.
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