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). 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. He also 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 the ‘little orchestra” called Pink Martini in 1994 to play political fundraisers for progressive causes such as civil rights, the environment, affordable housing and public broadcasting. In addition to his work with Pink Martini, Lauderdale collaborates with international superstar and singing sensation Meow Meow, the surf band Satan’s Pilgrims and novelist/writer Tom Spanbauer. 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 2008, he performed as the featured piano soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia with the Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland under the direction of Roger Doyle, and Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F with the Oregon Symphony under the direction of Christoph Campestrini. In 2011 Lauderdale again appeared as the featured soloist with the Oregon Symphony, this time under the direction of the tremendous Carlos Kalmar. Lauderdale currently serves on the boards of the Oregon Symphony and Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon. He lives in Portland, Oregon.