Group proud fans celebrate Trans-Siberian Christmas
Paul O’Neill says the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is glad to have its hands firmly wrapped around “the Holy Grail of touring.”
But the symphonic rock band that has become an expected part of Christmas celebrations for the past nine years is planning on hitting the road in the spring and summer with a show featuring music from its new release, “Night Castle.”
Before that happens, though, the band will be featuring some of that new material in its Christmas show, which will take the stage Wednesday at Mellon Arena for two performances.
“Whenever you get involved in Christmas shows, you end up being compared to Tchaikovsky, Dickens and Capra,” he says about artists whose works have become part of the season. “I never thought our show would be as successful as it is, and I’m not going to complain.”
But the guitarist says the band is eager to show it can do more with its mixture of a rock band, backup orchestra and singers.
He is pleased, however, that the band will continue to be associated with Christmas.
“You can ask someone who doesn’t know anything about singers from the ’30s and ’40s and they will know Bing Crosby because of ‘White Christmas’,” he says. He also suggests many people know of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky because of holiday performances of “The Nutcracker.”
The band’s holiday shows have been a steady, and sometimes overwhelming, success since they started in 1999.
• In 2008, the group’s concerts drew an overall audience of 1.26 million.
• Shows have increased attendance every year, starting at 15,224 in 1999 and topping 1 million for the first time in 2006.
• Since 1999, tours have grossed more than $200 million and played to 5 million people.
“We were worried last year about gasoline and this year about employment not coming back, but we have sold more than a million tickets already,” he says of the current 85-city tour.
But O’Neill says he and other members of the band feel the challenge to go beyond the Christmas trilogy of rock-opera albums for which they are known. He points to works such as “Beethoven’s Last Night” as indicative of the band’s ability to handle topics other than the holidays.
Good art spans “time and distance,” he says, and that is what the band is trying to do with “Night Castle.” It is a rock-opera telling the story of a young girl encountering the humanistic thoughts of the 15th-century scholar and theologian Erasmus.
“If one person reads a history book because of it, I win,” O’Neill says, “If one person studies Latin, I win twice. And if they have fun doing it, I win once more.”
When: 3 and 8 p.m. Wednesday; evening show sold out
Admission: $37.50-$57.50, with some $26.25 seats for the matinee only
Where: Mellon Arena, Uptown