Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale, China Forbes and members of Pink Martini (photo courtesy of Symphony Center).
Eclectic classical fusion ensemble Pink Martini returns to Symphony Center in a Special Concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16, 2018. Bandleader and pianist Thomas Lauderdale pairs the eclectic instrumentals of his one-of-a-kind, 11-piece ensemble with the witty and elegant vocals of lead singer China Forbes, as well as Ikram Goldman, who appears as special guest vocalist for the concert.
Pink Martini’s concerts feature their signature mix of classical, jazz and golden-era pop music to create a sound that is considered lighthearted yet refined. The March 16 program features selections from their latest album, Je Dis Oui!, alongside some of their most irresistible hits including “Amando mio,” “Je ne veux pas travallier” and “Hey Eugene.”
In a cameo appearance is Chicago fashion icon Ikram Goldman, who made her local debut singing with Pink Martini on the tune “Al Bint Al Shalabiya,” or “the girl from Shalabiya,” at the CSOA’s Corporate Night concert in June 2017. Several years after Goldman suggested to Pink Martini bandleader Thomas Lauderdale that the band add this song—originally made famous by Lebanese singer Fairouz—to their repertoire, Lauderdale invited Goldman to record it with the band for their 2017 release, Je Dis Oui!
Drawing inspiration from music from across the globe, pianist Thomas Lauderdale founded Pink Martini in 1994 to play at political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, environmental sustainability, affordable housing and public broadcasting. A year later, Lauderdale invited Harvard classmate China Forbes to join the band, whose 1997 debut album, Sympathique, quickly garnered the group international acclaim and a host of award hardware.
The ensemble regularly performs its multilingual repertoire on concert stages and with orchestras throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and North America. They’ve collaborated or performed with the likes of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as NPR’s Ari Shapiro, civil rights activist Kathleen Saadat and Rufus Wainwright.
Forbes has enjoyed a successful singing career both as a solo artist and with Pink Martini. She and Lauderdale have written many of Pink Martini’s most popular songs including “Sympathique,” with its famous chorus (“I don’t want to work”). With Pink Martini, she has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman” Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Tickets for all CSOA-presented concerts can be purchased by phone at 800-223-7114 or 312-294-3000, online at cso.org or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.