Trans-Siberian Orchestra has lots of new music in store

Trans-Siberian Orchestra fans may be surprised to learn that this winter tour will be the last time

Trans-Siberian Orchestra fans may be surprised to learn that this winter tour will be the last time the group will perform 2004’s “The Lost Christmas Eve” rock opera in its entirety.

After all, the massive metal-classical hybrid just debuted the work for its winter tour last year, after touring its 1996 debut, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories,” for 13 years straight. But with three new albums in the works and big plans for brand new tours in the future, the band just doesn’t have the time.

“We have a lot of things that we want to do,” said keyboardist Derek Wieland — who since 2010 has been the musical director for the East Coast version of the orchestra, TSO East — from a tour stop in Florida.

“We did ‘Christmas Eve and Other Stories’ for many, many years originally, but what we’re planning for next winter is still kind of in the works. We’re doing a completely different show through Europe for all of January.”

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany

How Much: $73, $63, $53, $43, $33

More Info: 487-2000,

The last hurrah for “The Lost Christmas Eve” will be at the Times Union Center tonight for one show only. Albany has long been an annual stop on the band’s tour, but even fans who saw this show last year can expect some differences, as always.

“It’s the story, but it’s kind of evolved,” Wieland said. “We’ve got some incredible singers with us this year — Russell Allen is amazing, and Robin Borneman has also been amazing. There’s an incredible new stage. So even people who have seen the show last year, this show is quite different.”

“The Lost Christmas Eve,” the final album in the band’s “Christmas trilogy” that also includes “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” and 1998’s “The Christmas Attic,” follows the story of a Wall Street banker who 40 years earlier abandoned his newborn son. With the help of an angel, the banker is eventually reunited with his grown son via stops at a blues bar and a hotel, and some flashbacks into the banker’s past.

In addition to the new singers, the band has once again upped the ante with its laser show and video, helping to tie the story together further. As always, the band drew influence from classic rockers Pink Floyd and The Who and their own extravagant rock operas, as well as musical theater.

“I think some of the elements — like the video for example — and I think some of the way the elements work with each other, it’s definitely become more dramatic, as far as the show feeling like it’s shifting from scene to scene,” Wieland said.

“Lately it’s felt like an Andrew Lloyd Webber kind of story, with The Who’s ‘Tommy’ influence and a Pink Floyd light show, which is kind of what we’re going for. It’s really the way that these elements integrate — we’ve managed to make a new chemistry out of ‘The Lost Christmas Eve’ for sure this year.”

The stage itself has also been redesigned. Last year’s setup focused on a giant clock swinging on a pendulum; this year the setup features a castle with different levels.

“The pyrotechnics are another component that are really different, really spectacular and just beautiful — some of the effects that are created onstage are just very, very different,” Wieland said. “There’s all these levels in the set — it’s sort of, again, this castle with these video effects that integrate what’s going on in the narrations and music.”

The tour caps another busy year for TSO. Both “The Lost Christmas Eve” and the 2000 album “Beethoven’s Last Night,” which received the tour treatment in the spring, were re-released with added narration from the shows.

Additionally, the band dropped its first greatest hits collection, “Tales of Winter: Selections from the TSO Rock Operas,” which contains tracks from all six of the group’s rock operas, up through 2009’s “Night Castle.” The band’s January tour in Europe will reflect this album somewhat, with bits of different stories from all the rock operas included in the show.

TSO founder and main composer Paul O’Neill also published the novella “Merry Christmas Rabbi,” a companion piece to the band’s Christmas trilogy. The book, which is being distributed for free at the band’s concerts, tells another story of redemption on Christmas Eve, stretching from World War II Germany to modern-day New York City.

Looking ahead to next year, one of three long-awaited rock operas, “Romanov: When Kings Must Whisper,” may finally see release. In an interview with The Gazette last year, O’Neill set the release date for the album, which is based on the 1917 Russian Revolution, for June of 2013 — so nothing is set in stone.

“We’re working very, very hard on the recordings, and it’s percolating along, and suddenly the direction comes that it’s time to finish it and release it,” Wieland said.

“I don’t even know when that will happen. It’s kind of Paul’s intuition, which has been very good historically, for when and where and why to release certain things. But I’m excited to get back into the studio and to look at those.”

It would seem that “The Christmas Attic” is next in line for the band’s annual winter tour. However, Wieland gave nothing away.

“I’m looking forward to finding out because I’m quite involved in preparing for that,” he said.

Categories: Entertainment

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