Updated on October 21, 2017 at 1:21 PM
Posted on October 21, 2017 at 1:20 PM
Thomas Launderdale brings Pink Martini to Bergen PAC Oct. 24.(Chris Hornbecker )
By Natalie Pompilio
Since Pink Martini’s beginnings n 1994, Thomas Lauderdale and his bandmates have brought together melodies and rhythms from around the world to create a sound that crosses genres and cultures. Almost 25 years later, the band’s ability to bring people together seems more relevant than ever.
“What’s required for the band at this point is to encourage people to sit next to people they normally wouldn’t sit next to and to find commonalities and encourage reasonable discussion and celebrate and, at the end of the night, form a giant conga line together,” Lauderdale said in an interview with NJ Advance Media. “The function of the band is much more urgent and relevant than it ever was.”
Those interested in commonality and conga can celebrate with the 12-person orchestra Oct. 24 at Bergen Performing Arts Center. The band will bring its usual repertoire: romantic songs – both originals and covers — in 22 languages, including Farsi, Arabic, Turkish and English.
Lauderdale has called the band a “rollicking around-the-world musical adventure … If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we’d be that band.” He founded the group in 1994 to raise funds to oppose an effort to criminalize homosexuality in his home state of Oregon. Its first album was 1997 “Sympathique.” Its most recent, its ninth, is “Je Dis Oui.”
Over the years, Pink Martini has shared its music with liberal causes; earlier this month, for example, the band performed at a Portland naturalization ceremony for 30 new U.S. citizens as it’s done many times before. But Lauderdale ensures the band’s concerts aren’t political. He tells the story of the band’s formation at the start of most concerts — “I threw on a cocktail dress and started Pink Martini” is the shortest version — and then lets the music speak for itself in its many languages.
“It addresses the political situation without backing people into a corner,” he said. “I’m not going to try to convince you to change your mind, that my way is better. We all make our choices.”
Bergen Performing Arts Center
30 N. Van Brunt St., Englewood.
Tickets: $29-69, available online at www.bergenpac.org. Oct. 24, 8 p.m.