Trans-Siberian Orchestra tradition lives on with Friday’s virtual concert

On Friday, Dec. 18, orchestral-rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents a livestream of an updated versions of the group’s breakthrough show, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”
On Friday, Dec. 18, orchestral-rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents a livestream of an updated versions of the group’s breakthrough show, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“Christmas Eve and Other Stories” available for streaming this weekend

Trans-Siberian Orchestra faced a major tragedy with the shocking death of founder and leader Paul O’Neill in April 2017. Even that massive loss didn’t stop the orchestral-rock band from mounting its annual Christmas tour, which has been including a stop at the Nutter Center in Fairborn each season for two sold-out concerts.

That changed this year, with the coronavirus shutdowns forcing the group to change course and offer its first livestream concert. On Friday, Dec. 18, TSO presents a virtual staging of an updated version of the group’s breakthrough show, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”

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“So many things have changed in 2020: masks, social distancing, home schooling and, of course, live entertainment,” TSO music director and lead guitarist Al Pitrelli said. “What will not change is all of us being able to celebrate the holidays together. It will just be in a different way. For 21 years, we’ve had the privilege of bringing our tours, including, ‘Christmas Eve and Other Stories,’ to hundreds of cities and millions of people.

“This year, we will bring this timeless story to your living rooms,” Pitrelli said. “We will miss seeing all of you in person, but like Paul O’Neill always said, ‘Adapt, overcome and improvise.’ That’s exactly what we are going to do.”

Symphonic rock group Trans-Siberian Orchestra traditionally makes stops in Dayton and Cincinnati. This year it will be performing a virtual concert instead. CONTRIBUTED
Symphonic rock group Trans-Siberian Orchestra traditionally makes stops in Dayton and Cincinnati. This year it will be performing a virtual concert instead. CONTRIBUTED

As a producer, O’Neill worked with acts like Aerosmith and Savatage before combining his love of progressive rock and musical theater to create Trans-Siberian Orchestra. His singular vision grew into a multi-million dollar juggernaut, becoming one of the most successful touring acts of the past decade. The group has generated tickets sales just shy of $300 million.

Drummer Jeff Plate said, “The TSO show is that get-together you do every year with family or friends. Obviously, management and Paul O’Neill’s family thought long and hard about doing this and actually how to do it. In the spirit of Paul O’Neill and in keeping this tradition alive, we’re going to put on this show.”

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The demand for live TSO performances was so high that O’Neill split the outfit into two distinct bands in 2000. This upcoming performance is noteworthy because livestream viewers will see a collaboration between members of the West Coast and East Coast versions for the first time since the expansion 20 years ago.

“It all goes back to the core group of guys who were here from the beginning,” Plate said. “It’s myself on drums, Al Pitrelli and Chris Caffery on guitars and Johnny Lee Middleton on bass. Then we’ve got vocalists and musicians from both the East and West groups to fill out the other roles. It’s basically an all-star band if you want to look at it like that. It’s always really cool to work with those guys again.”

Drummer Jeff Plate, who was member of heavy metal band Savatage when he joined founder Paul O’Neill in Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1996, will join members of the band’s East and West Coast contingents for a livestream presentation of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”
Drummer Jeff Plate, who was member of heavy metal band Savatage when he joined founder Paul O’Neill in Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1996, will join members of the band’s East and West Coast contingents for a livestream presentation of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Like Plate, Pitrelli, Caffery and Middleton were all members of Savatage when they joined O’Neill in Trans-Siberian Orchestra in 1996.

“We’ve been doing this so long and with having the East and West groups, I never get to play with Al Pitrelli or Johnny, so this will be a really cool chance for us,” Plate said. “For the audience, this is also going to be a cool opportunity to see some of the other musicians you don’t normally get to see. And, everybody that buys the show and streams it through their television and sound system is going have the best seat in the house to watch our show.”

Contact contributing arts and music writer Don Thrasher at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO WATCH

What: Livestream of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18

Cost: Tickets are $30 and the program continues streaming on demand through midnight Dec. 20.

Artist info: www.trans-siberian.com