The orchestral music flowed throughout the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland. On New Years Eve, Pink Martini, a local band with international ties, took the stage. The audience greeted the self-described “little orchestra” members with loud applause as the performers walked onstage.
The group, founded in 1994 by Thomas Lauderdale, put on a stunning performance led by China Forbes’ enchanting voice. They were supported by some amazing musicians.
Pink Martini was led through a few songs by the von Trapp grandchildren, whose names are August, Amanda, Melanie and Sofia. The Trapp Family Singers were the family on which the “Sound of Music” was based. Along with the Von Trapps, an Oregon political figure, Kathleen Saadat, loaned her vocals as well. The Pacific Youth Choir made a special appearance and gave the performance a very filling feeling.
Pink Martini performed two shows that night, one at 7 p.m. and one at 10:30 p.m. Both shows were sold out. Most of the fans waiting for the 10:30 show were older, but not any less enthusiastic.
Before the band walked onstage, the Portland Youth Philharmonic under the direction of David Hattner, performed a beautiful opening of Prelude to Act I from “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi.
The band members were met by a furiously clapping audience as they took their places onstage. Once settled, the band started to play “Bolero.” Forbes, who was approached by Lauderdale while they both were attending Harvard in 1995 to join his “little orchestra,” came onstage and performed “Amado mio.” She was then joined at the microphone by Timothy Nishimoto to perform “Mayonaka no bossa nova.”
As the new year approached, the band took the chance to pause and count down from 10 to one. Once midnight struck, Forbes was accompanied by Nishimoto and Dan Faehnle (guitar) to perform “恭喜你 Congratulations,” a Chinese New Year song.
After the New Year’s celebration was over, Nishimoto left the stage, and Forbes sang a beautiful version of “We Three Kings.” Next, William Goforth, a soloist, commanded the stage, assisted by the Pacific Youth Choir, sang “Shchedryk” and “Sanctus.”
From there, the amazing Von Trapp Children took the stage and performed three songs which nodded toward their heritage. They performed “Die dorfmusik,” “In stiller nacht” and “Hayaldah hachi yafa bagan.” For their age, the children (teenagers, actually) put on a stunning performance comparable to their ancestors.
The band then took up an instrumental song, “The Flying Squirrel,” featuring Brian Davis on the drums, Dan Faehnle on the guitar, Phil Baker on the bass, Robert Taylor on the trombone and Gavin Bondy on the trumpet. The audience enjoyed this one, clapping loudly after every performer’s solo.
Sadaat then took the stage, performing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “For All We Know.” She had a very good voice for singing early blues and jazz. Up until recently, Soldaat had never performed professionally before, and now is in the process of producing an album with Pink Martini.
After Sadaat’s wonderful performance, one of the band’s beloved songs, “Donde Estas, Yolanda?” was performed by Nishimoto, backed up by Forbes. The house became excited as the song was performed, giving raging applause as it was concluded.
Nishimoto left the microphone, and was replaced by China Forbes with the Von Trapps, and backed up by the Pacific Youth Choir to perform “Snowglobe Christmas,” “La Vergine degli Angeli” and “Auld lang syne.”
Then Forbes left the stage, and the Von Trapps assisted by the Pacific Youth Choir performed “The Lonely Goatherd.”
The last song before the encore, “What I’ll Do,” was performed by Forbes.
After Forbes’ performance, Lauderdale announced that they would not leave the stage, and instead go right into the encore. The Pacific Youth Choir came down and started a conga line around the concert hall, as directed by Lauderdale. He told people to join in as the line moved past them. During the conga line, Forbes performed “Brazil.” At that point, the hall turned into a party atmosphere, with some people fleeing so they didn’t get caught up in the craziness.
All in all, the concert was simply stunning. The different acts gave it variety, and Forbes’ voice was a great compliment to the jazz/swing feel of most of their music. Their trumpeter, Bondy, was especially amazing, gaining a lot of adoration from the crowd. The performance deserves an A+, hands down.