Q+A With Thomas Lauderdale
Thomas Lauderdale and Pink Martini perform with the Pops and the vonTrapps January 24
Fanfare Cincinnati: Pink Martini is self described: “If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully, we’d be that band.” Could you explain how that relates not only to the band’s repertoire, but also the sound, style and stage presence?
Thomas Lauderdale: We are old-fashioned and romantic in that sense of old Hollywood. We also like to represent an inclusive America. The America that is the most heterogenous country in the world, the melting pot America. We like everyone to know that there are Americans who are interested in other cultures, in other peoples, in other languages. So we look for old-fashioned and romantic music, with great melodies, from all over the world. I think old-fashioned romance never goes out of style. And melody certainly never goes out of style. There really aren’t other bands exploring this music. For a few moments we can help everyone forget their troubles, forget the stress of the world. We try to play beautiful music that can accompany all of life’s moments—from falling in love to grieving a loved one, from throwing a dinner party to vacuuming your house!
FC: How did the collaboration with The von Trapps come about? What have been some highlights of that artistic relationship?
TL: I met The von Trapps four years ago when they were in my hometown of Portland, Oregon to perform with the Oregon Symphony. Pink Martini was performing in Portland’s city square for the lighting of the city Christmas tree, and the Symphony called me to ask if I wanted The von Trapps to join us on stage, and I jumped at the chance! And I really just fell in love with them. I adore The Sound of Music. I think that The Sound of Music is the last great optimistic American film, with incredible music and great drapes. Spending time with The von Trapps is like walking onto the set of The Sound of Music, but they’re not actors. They’re earnest in a genuine way, and untainted by trashy modern impulses.
FC: What are some of the joys (and challenges) of touring with an ensemble the size of Pink Martini?
TL: What is great about traveling with and collaborating with such a large group of musicians is that if the chemistry isn’t there, or if you’re not getting along with someone, there is always someone else to hang out with that day. We’re a family; with all its complications and conflict, in the end we love each other unconditionally.
FC: What upcoming projects do you and/or the band have coming up?
TL: Too many to count. I am currently working on a collaborative album with the wonderfully talented Meow Meow. I am also ruminating on a full-length album with a Middle Eastern focus. And although my list is already too long, one of the most wonderful things about life is that you never know what or who might be just around the corner. Anything can happen!