Thomas M. Lauderdale
Thomas Lauderdale was raised on a plant nursery in rural Indiana. He began piano lessons at age six with Patricia Garrison. When his family moved to Portland in 1982, he began studying with Sylvia Killman, who to this day continues to serve as his coach and mentor. He has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Oregon Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Chamber Music Northwest and Oregon Ballet Theatre (where he collaborated with choreographer James Canfield and visual artists Storm Tharp and Malia Jensen on a ballet based on Felix Salten’s Bambi, written in 1923).
In 2008, he played Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with the Oregon Symphony under the direction of Christoph Campestrini. Lauderdale returned as soloist with the Oregon Symphony in multiple concerts in 2011, and again in 2015, under the direction of Carlos Kalmar. In 2017, he and his partner Hunter Noack created and performed a dazzling, rhapsodic two-piano arrangement of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with choreographer Nicolo Fonte for Oregon Ballet Theatre.
Active in Oregon politics since a student at U.S. Grant High School (where he was student body president), Thomas served under Portland Mayor Bud Clark and Oregon governor Neil Goldschmidt. In 1991, he worked under Portland City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury on the drafting and passage of the city’s civil rights ordinance. He graduated with honors from Harvard with a degree in History and Literature in 1992. He spent most of his collegiate years, however, in cocktail dresses, taking on the role of “cruise director” … throwing waltzes with live orchestras and ice sculptures, disco masquerades with gigantic pineapples on wheels, midnight swimming parties, and operating a Tuesday night coffeehouse called Café Mardi.
Instead of running for political office, Lauderdale founded Pink Martini in 1994 to play political fundraisers for progressive causes such as civil rights, the environment, affordable housing and public broadcasting. In its 25th year, Pink Martini continues to tour around the world, performing in legendary venues such as Royal Albert Hall in London, the Olimpia in Paris, the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl. As bandleader of Pink Martini, Lauderdale has sold over 2.5 million albums worldwide on his independent label Heinz Records. In addition to his work with Pink Martini, in 2017 Lauderdale released Love for Sale, an album of standards featuring singer/civil rights leader Kathleen Saadat, and in 2019 he released Hotel Amour, a collaboration with crowd-surfing post-modern diva Meow Meow. He is currently working on an album with the surf band Satan’s Pilgrims.
In Spring 2008, Lauderdale completed his first film score for Chiara Clemente’s documentary Our City Dreams, a portrait of five New York City-based women artists of different generations. In 2016, Lauderdale created the score and three featured songs for the Belgian film Souvenir, starring the legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert.
Lauderdale currently serves on the boards of the Oregon Symphony, Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Oregon Historical Society, Confluence Project with Maya Lin and the Derek Rieth Foundation. He lives in downtown Portland, Oregon.