One of the many highlights at this year's 2013 Matrix: Midland Festival centers upon the creative concoction of Pink Martini - a stylish, hip, and resolute mixture of classic cabaret, jazz-influenced instrumentals, and sultry vocals that is equally sophisticated, quirky, and entirely original.
Performing on Thursday, June 20th at 8 PM at Midland Center for the Arts, the music of Pink Martini melds jazz and cinematic themes with driving rhythms and exotic vocals with immaculate musicianship and a fabulously retro repertoire, all hinged together with eyebrow arched wit that has engaged divergent audiences spanning the globe.
Back in 1994 in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Thomas Lauderdale was working in politics, thinking that one day he would run for mayor. Like other eager politicians in training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun, but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud and un-neighborly. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world, crossing genres of classical, jazz and old fashioned pop, and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks.
One year later, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate who was living in New York City, and asked her to join Pink Martini. They began to write songs together. Their first song, “Sympathique,” became an overnight sensation in France, was nominated for Song of the Year at France's Victoires de la Musique awards, and to this day remains a mantra (“Je ne veux pas travailler” or “I don't want to work”) for striking French workers.
Featuring 10 to 12 musicians, Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and North America. Making their European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1998, Pink Martini has gone on to play with more than 50 orchestras around the world, including multiple engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Boston Pops, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the San Francisco Symphony, and the BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall in London. Other appearances include the grand opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Walt Disney Concert Hall, two sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall; the opening party of the remodeled Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the opening of the 2008 Sydney Festival in Australia; and Lanvin's 10-year anniversary celebration for designer Alber Elbaz in 2012.
Pink Martini's debut album “Sympathique” was released independently in 1997 on the band's own label Heinz Records (named after Lauderdale's dog), and quickly became an international phenomenon, garnering the group nominations for Song of the Year and Best New Artist in France's Victoires de la Musique awards in 2000. Pink Martini released “Hang on Little Tomato” in 2004, “Hey Eugene!” in 2007, “Splendor in the Grass” in 2009 and “Joy to the World” in November 2010. All five albums have gone gold in France, Canada, Greece and Turkey, and have sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide.
In the fall of 2011, the band released two albums: “A Retrospective,” a collection of the band's most beloved songs spanning their 18-year career, which includes eight previously unreleased tracks, and “1969,” an album of collaborations with legendary Japanese singer Saori Yuki. The release of “1969” marked the first time a Japanese artist hit the American Billboard charts since 1963.
In January 2012, bandleader Thomas Lauderdale recorded the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile” with the 94-year-old legendary Phyllis Diller; this song will be released on a future Pink Martini album, tentatively titled “Get Happy.”
Tickets are $55, $48 and $38 and are available by calling the MCFTA Ticket Office at 800-523-7649 or at mcfta.org.