Politics and Musical Ambitions

An international band — created for more than musical reasons — heads back to its roots

Pink Martini. Photo by Chris Hornbecker.

Pink Martini featuring China Forbes performs June 9 at the Hult Center. In the early ’90s, Pink Martini was formed in Portland to connect people to music for a greater purpose. Thomas Lauderdale, the band’s founder and pianist, set out to create a band that provides “more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, cleaning up the Willamette River, funding for libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks,” the band’s website says. The group draws inspiration from around the world and crosses genres, including classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop. Pink Martini features 12 musicians and has songs in over 25 different languages. A French sensation — and one of their hit songs — “Sympathique” was written by Forbes and Lauderdale. The band made a European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and at the Oregon Symphony in 1998. This year, Pink Martini celebrates 30 years of performing together. This Sunday, listen for songs from the album Hey Eugene! as Pink Martini heads back to its home state on an international tour.

Pink Martini featuring China Forbes is 7:30 pm June 9 at the Hult Center. Tickets range from $38 to $68 at HultCenter.org.