You can’t go out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, but you can watch the world’s favorite “little orchestra” ring in the new year from the comfort of you own home.
Edmonds Center for the Arts presents Pink Martini on Dec. 31 via Our Concerts. “Good Riddance 2020!” was filmed in front of the 34-foot Christmas tree at the Pink Martini world headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
The New Year’s Eve concert will include many of Pink Martini’s fan favorites such as “Sympathique,” “Hang on Little Tomato,” “Amado Mio,” “Una Notte a Napoli, “”Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love,” “Hey Eugene,” “Splendor in the Grass,” “The Butteryfly Song” and “Dónde Estás, Yolanda?”
The Dec. 31 show features lead singer China Forbes, with special performances by Storm Large, Ari Shapiro, Edna Vazquez, Jimmie Herrod, Sofi von Trapp and Cantor Ida Rae Cahana.
Pianist Thomas Lauderdale formed Pink Martini in 1994. While Pink Martini is an American band, Lauderdale’s orchestra — which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary — is inspired by music from all over the world. About a dozen musicians perform a blend of classical, jazz and pop, featuring songs in more than 25 languages.
“We’re very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America,” Lauderdale has said. “The America which remains the most heterogeneously populated country in the world — composed of people of every country, every language, every religion.”
After the band’s European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1998, Pink Martini has gone on to perform its multilingual line-up on concert stages on six continents.
Before COVID-19 hit, they toured six months out of the year. Since they’re not touring, the band released two new singles: “Let’s Be Friends” and “The Lemonade Song” in 2020.
In 25 years, Pink Martini has played with more than 50 orchestras around the world, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, the National Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Pink Martini was inducted into both the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
In 1995, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a fellow Harvard classmate, and asked her to join his band. An alto, Forbes is Pink Martini’s lead vocalist.
Lauderdale and Forbes also write songs together. The first song they ever wrote — “Sympathique (Je ne veux pas travailler)” — became an overnight sensation in France. It was nominated for “Song of the Year” at France’s Victoires de la Musique Awards.
“That is our most famous song, so I’m most known for that, but ‘Amado Mio’ and ‘Hey Eugene’ are also mine,” Forbes said.
Timothy Nishimoto, who Lauderdale met at a party, joined Pink Martini in 2003, although the singer has toured on and off with them since 1996. He also plays percussion for the band, for which Lauderdale had him take lessons.
Nishimoto’s forte is the güiro — it’s a Latin American percussion instrument made out of a hollow gourd with parallel notches cut into it. The instrument is played by rubbing a stick or tines along the notches to produce a ratchet sound.
In addition to English, he sings songs in Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Greek and Chinese. He sings the lead in “Dónde Estás, Yolanda?”
“Thomas likes to say ‘It’s not world music, but it’s music of the world,’” said Nishimoto, who sings tenor. “We do songs from literally all over the world. The band has been together for over 25 years and has been traveling the world for a better part of that time, and we’ve become even more worldly because of it. We’ve been introduced to a lot of different kinds of music, languages and cultures.”
Pink Martini has released 11 studio albums on its own independent label Heinz Records — named after Lauderdale’s dog — selling more than 3 million albums worldwide. In 2019, the band released two studio EPs, “Tomorrow” and “Bésame Mucho,” featuring lead vocals from Pink Martini’s newest members, Jimmie Herrod and Edna Vazquez. Both singers have toured with the band since 2017.
Pink Martini’s world headquarters is in fact at Lauderdale’s home. Lauderdale owns a 9,375-square-foot studio home in downtown Portland. The band recorded two December shows at the headquarters back-to-back — “Home for the Holidays” and “Good Riddance 2020!”
Forbes and Nishimoto both said they’re more than ready to say good riddance to 2020. They said Dec. 31 has got to be a turning point.
“I missed the band; I missed playing,” Nishimoto said. “I teared up while we were recording. It’s been sad, it’s been hard, but it’s also been kind of nice to just be home and not go-go-go-go.”
“I was looking forward to 2020, but then one horrible thing after another has happened,” Forbes said, “so I’m hopeful that 2021 completely flips somehow and is a great year for everybody.”
Can’t watch Pink Martini’s Dec. 31 concert? No problem. As long as you purchase tickets, you can watch “Good Riddance 2020!” as many times as you want within the next 48 hours.
If you stream
Edmonds Center for the Arts presents a Pink Martini New Year’s Eve show at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 via Our Concerts. Tickets are $15. “Good Riddance 2020!” — featuring the band’s fan favorites — was filmed in front of the 34-foot Christmas tree at Pink Martini’s world headquarters in Portland, Oregon. An Our Concerts link will be provided with registration. Call 425-275-9595 or go to www.ec4arts.org for more information.