By the time the von Trapp children met Pink Martini founder Thomas Lauderdale, the great-grandchildren of the real-life Captain and Maria von Trapp had sung "The Sound of Music" on Broadway, played with the Boston Pops Orchestra and performed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." After singing the same songs over and over again for 15 years, the von Trapps found relief with Lauderdale and his polyglot pop group, who are as likely to perform French chansons as songs from Hollywood movie soundtracks.
"We were burned out," August von Trapp, 19, says by phone last week, speaking backstage before a concert in Goshen, Ind. "We were at a point where we were questioned how to continue the von Trapps, or even singing at all. Because we met Thomas two years ago, and the ideas he had for our music were so exciting, I guess we got excited about music again."
The cocktail created by Pink Martini and the von Trapps, the new 15-song album "Dream a Little Dream," will be performed by both acts on Tuesday at the Kravis Center and on Wednesday at the Adrienne Arsht Center. The album includes German yodeling, Japanese tango and the Rwandan National Anthem, but also features two songs that, to von Trapp, couldn't be avoided: "Edelweiss" and "Lonely Goatherd," both from "The Sound of Music."
"We grew up knowing that the von Trapp singers story was told through 'The Sound of Music.' But there's a balance between respecting the amazing phenomenon that was 'The Sound of Music' and looking at our own creative impulses. We split the difference," says von Trapp, the youngest sibling of Amanda, 22, Melanie, 23, and Sofi, 25. Von Trapp also wrote three original tracks, including an Irish folksong recorded with the Chieftains.
Lauderdale describes his first encounter with the von Trapps, at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore., as a "dreamy but surreal" experience, and asked them to lend vocals to Pink Martini's 2013 album, "Get Happy," which also included collaborations with NPR's Ari Shapiro and late comedienne Phyllis Diller.
"They're old souls, just unaffected by trashy modern pop culture," says Lauderdale, also speaking from backstage. "They told me they didn't watch TV growing up. Their grandpa taught them Austrian folksongs instead. They have this uncanny ability to focus, and that's pretty brilliant. They're entirely authentic and earnest. It's like walking on the set of 'The Sound of Music,' except there are no actors."
The new album consists of multigenre songs recorded at Pink Martini's Portland-based studio, with a little help from the von Trapp's neighbors in Montana: Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton and TV zookeeper Jack Hanna. Both supply the yodeling on "Lonely Goatherd."
"Jack is like a second father to us, and Wayne lives right next to Jack. It's a small town," Amanda von Trapp says. "It's a really fun track, but it was so complete, and so refreshing for us, because we were in transition musically. With Pink Martini, we all fit together perfectly."
Pink Martini with the von Trapps
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, and 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26
Where: Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Cost: $25-$100 (Kravis), $35-$95 (Arsht)Copyright © 2015, South Florida