Trans-Siberian Orchestra to herald in holiday seasonWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Paul O’Neill pitched Trans-Siberian Orchestra to Atlantic Records, he envisioned a prog-rock band that would create six rock operas and record a couple regular discs. And, oh yeah, he mentioned a Christmas trilogy.
“I’m very influenced by Charles Dickens, who wrote about subjects that were larger than life but in a way that everybody could identify with them,” the composer and producer said. “He wrote five books about Christmas. And when a British reporter asked him why five books about Christmas, he said Christmas is too large a subject to take on in one book.”
Growing up in New York City, O’Neill became fascinated by the holiday.
“There’s something about this day that not only fixes how people treat each other on the most intimate and individual levels, but the way nations treat each other,” he said. “So I decided to do three rock operas, the first about how the holiday has the same effect on people all around the world, the second about how it’s been doing this for centuries and the third is how it allows you to undo mistakes that you never thought you could undo.”
Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s debut, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” came out in 1996. Once “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” hit the airwaves, the orchestra became a holiday favorite.
“The Christmas Attic” followed in 1998 and “The Lost Christmas Eve” in 2004. The three discs have been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and the group has sold more than 7 million records.
“A friend said to me, ‘Paul, you’ve lucked into a Tchaikovsky.’ I knew what he meant by that. Tchaikovsky always thought ‘The Nutcracker’ was another ballet like ‘Swan Lake’ or ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ but ‘The Nutcracker’ became so interwoven with the holiday,” O’Neill said during a call from his home in the Big Apple.
“When you’re writing something for Christmas, you’re competing with the best of the last 2,000 years and you’re literally competing with Tchaikovsky, Dickens, Frank Capra,” he said. “Also, you’re competing with music that has to get past the ultimate critic, the only critic you can’t fool, which is time. Because each generation will only pass on the very best. … [The Christmas trilogy] ended up just taking on a life of its own.”
That life includes jaw-dropping shows with lasers and pyrotechnics that have become a seasonal tradition. Two Trans-Siberian Orchestra groups tour to meet demand; more than 200 band and crew members make the magic happen at each stop.
“It’s our job to make the albums great, make the shows great and make the shows affordable,” O’Neill said.
Prepare to be dazzled.
“I’m just finishing one song and it’s got like 3,200 lighting cues in 60 seconds,” he said.
“Every year we want to give people the comfort of the familiar with the excitement of something new. Just when you think you have us figured out, we’ll do a 90-degree turn at 150 miles per hour,” O’Neill said.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra will play two shows at Huntington Center at 4 and 8 p.m. Nov. 11. While the $27 tickets are sold out for both shows, there are $38, $48 and $58 tickets for the first show and $48 and $58 seats for the evening concert.
In addition to the holiday fare, fans can expect to hear music from the group’s 2009 CD, “Night Castle,” and the forthcoming “Romanov — When Kings Must Whisper.”