The members of Pink Martini are musical polyglots, having studied different styles of music from different parts of the world. “At one moment, you feel like you’re in the middle of a samba parade in Rio de Janeiro,” said leader Thomas Lauderdale, “and in the next moment, you’re in a French music hall of the 1930s or a palazzo in Napoli.”

The group’s vocalists perform music in 15 different languages, among them, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Greek, Arabic and Japanese. “If the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully, we’d be that band,” Lauderdale is fond of saying. “I think it’s important to be a citizen of the world, as opposed to being a citizen of this particular country. Part of that means studying other people’s languages.”

Through the years, the group has taken its multi-culti repertoire to concert venues throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and North Africa. “I’ve never really had goals for the band,” he said. “We just responded to what was in front of us.”

Although he might not have goals, Lauderdale does have dreams: “We do these sing-alongs in the town square in Portland [the band’s home base]. They’re free and open to the public. People just come and sing along — songs of the American songbook, as well as American folk songs — everything from ‘Copacabana’ to ‘Home on the Range’ to ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ I’d like to do a sing-along tour around the country!”

Pink Martini, with vocalist China Forbes and special guest Ikram Goldman, will perform in an SCP Special Concert on March 16. For information and tickets, click here.

TOP: Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes of Pink Martini.