Over the weekend, Maria von Trapp, the Austrian singer whose family's escape from Nazis provided the basis for "The Sound of Music," passed away at age 99. However, the famous singing family has new blood in the music industry carrying on its tradition on a new album -- a collaboration with a Portland-based ensemble.
The jazzy yet pop-oriented orchestra known as Pink Martini has paired with Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August von Trapp -- who deem themselves The von Trapps -- for a new album, "Dream a Little Dream" -- and Billboard has the exclusive premiere.
According to Pink Martini bandleader Thomas Lauderdale, the idea to collaborate with the von Trapps came about in order to help the siblings -- the great-grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp -- to "bridge the transition" from being merely part of the famous family to bona fide recording artists.
"We didn't want to imprison or package or market them, we simply wanted to make a beautiful album that we all loved," Lauderdale said. "I adore 'The Sound of Music.' I think that 'The Sound of Music' is the last great optimistic American film, with incredible music and great drapes. Spending time with The von Trapps is like walking onto the set of 'The Sound of Music,' but they're not actors. They're earnest in a genuine way, and untainted by trashy modern impulses."
From the beginning, Lauderdale said the album was "really a joy" to create.
"The world is a beautiful place where amazing things are happening," he said. "I love to be in that genuine state of wonder and excitement... and not at all jaded. Spending time with The von Trapps is like that. It's like a summer day of infinite possibility."
Sofia von Trapp agrees. "Sparks flew when we all met and I think right away we knew we could create something quite unique together," she said. "Pink Martini has a strong international element to their music, as do we, and with the same desire to create a joyful or meaningful experience for our listeners, it makes for a great musical match.
"For the four of us, this album is a mile-marker. It gives a nod to our past -- the story of our great grandparents -- yet simultaneously moves the story forward."
"Dream a Little Dream" features additional collaborations from Wayne Newton, the Chieftains, Jack Hanna and even Charmian Carr, who portrayed Liesl in the film version of "The Sound of Music."
The 15-track album is out March 4 on Heinz Records.