Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 73° Partly Cloudy
A&E >  Entertainment

Pink Martini joins Spokane Symphony for lush genre mashup

Pink Martini performs with the Spokane Symphony on Saturday.
Pink Martini performs with the Spokane Symphony on Saturday.

The Inland Northwest clearly likes Pink Martini.

Portland’s world famous “little orchestra” packed War Memorial Field for a Festival at Sandpoint gig in 2012. And now, as they did in 2013, the band has sold out a show at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox with the Spokane Symphony.

The fact that Saturday’s show sold out is testament to a single fact: There is no other band quite like Pink Martini. At least that’s China Forbes’ theory.

Forbes, who trades off lead vocalist duties with Storm Large, said, “I think there’s nothing like it. It’s very life affirming – the music, the band members, the spirit of it. It leaves people feeling happy, so I think they come back again.”

The music crosses genres – classical, jazz, Latin, pop. It’s often described as cabaret. It’s easy, when listening to Pink Martini, to imagine yourself sitting in a cafe in Paris.

The band, founded in 1994 by composer-pianist-ringleader Thomas Lauderdale, has released seven albums. The most recent, “Dream a Little Dream,” came out last year and features the von Trapps – descendants of the “The Sound of Music” family – as well as guest artists Charmain Carr and Wayne Newton.

The band’s live shows are rollicking good fun. When asked what’s different when Pink Martini performs with symphonies, Forbes played it sarcastic.

“Well, there is a symphony behind us,” she said, cracking up. She then added, “We do the same songs, and we have them arranged for orchestra, so it’s a full, lush sounds. It’s exciting to have all of that support. Sonically it’s different, but it’s also visually really exciting. There’s so much going on on stage.

“It’s even more elegant and it’s very ladylike. We don’t make outrageous comments between the songs when we’re with the symphony. We’re on our best behavior.”

Best behavior or not, Forbes promises that certain fan favorites will make the playlist.

“Songs like ‘Amado Mio.’ There’s ‘Sympathique,’ which was our biggest hit. Then there’s ‘Hey Eugene’ – people yell for it if we don’t do it. Then ‘Brazil.’ We always do ‘Brazil,’ ” she said. “Then we always do a song called ‘The Flying Squirrel,’ which is an instrumental. It’s fun because many of the musicians get to solo. And that’s when Thomas gets people to come on stage and dance.”

Forbes, who is originally from Massachusetts, always enjoys coming to Spokane, as she has a couple of cousins who live here. “It’s funny – I have two sets of cousins there. I have cousins everywhere, so it’s not that surprising, but they’re the only ones in Spokane.”

These days, when she’s not singing with Pink Martini, Forbes enjoys singing opera. In fact, she’s scooting back to Portland this weekend in time to sing arias with the Oregon Symphony for program called Classical Up Close, which brings music into different communities for free. “They asked me to do it, and I jumped at the chance because I’ve been singing opera and it’s kind of all I want to do right now.”

She’s also written a song for a movie that’s coming out June 19, a story that’s close to her heart. “Infinitely Polar Bear” was written and directed by Forbes’ sister, Maya, and is based on their childhood. It’s about a father, who is manic-depressive, trying to win back his wife by taking responsibility of their two girls. Mark Ruffalo (“The Avengers”) and Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek”) star as the parents.

“I’m glad that I can talk about it more now, because the more we can de-stigmatize mental illness, the better,” she said. “And this movie is a different perspective on a family struggling with that.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.