Trans-Siberian Orchestra (often abbreviated as TSO) is a rock orchestra founded by Paul O'Neill, Robert Kinkel, and Jon Oliva in 1996. The band's musical style is often described in different terms, incorporating progressive rock, symphonic metal, and heavy metal, with influences from classical music. The group is based in New York City, but frequently tours worldwide, bringing their music to sometimes obscure areas. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is well known for its renditions of traditional Christmas songs. Some of their most well-known works include such songs as Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 (a rendition of Carol of the Bells), and Wizards in Winter, both of which are popular selections of radio DJs during the Christmas season.
O'Neill had managed and produced rock bands including Aerosmith, Humble Pie, and Scorpions, later writing for and producing Savatage, where he began working with Kinkel and Oliva. The concept for a band playing Christmas carols in a rock opera style was not received warmly by the industry, but quickly proved a success with adults as well as young people.
In the recording studio, Trans-Siberian Orchestra uses a full 60-piece orchestra and a choir. As of 2004, their touring band included fourteen vocalists, fourteen musicians, and two narrators.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra released their debut album Christmas Eve and Other Stories in 1996, and it remains their best-selling album. Their 1998 release The Christmas Attic was similarly a concept album with a Christmas theme. This album featured what remains one of their most recognizable songs, Christmas Canon, a take on Pachelbel's Canon in D.
In 2000, they released their first (and to date only) non-Christmas album, Beethoven's Last Night, a concept album about Ludwig van Beethoven's last night on earth, during which he meets Fate, her son Twist, and Mephistopheles.
After several years of touring, they returned to the studio and subsequently released another full-length album, Lost Christmas Eve, and the accompanying DVD/3-CD release The Christmas Trilogy, which contained all three of their Christmas albums to date.
The band is, as of early 2005, working on a new non-Christmas album, Night Castle. It was projected to be released in the spring of 2008, according to an announcement made by Paul O'Neill at the December 30, 2007 concert in Cleveland, and is expected to feature the band's rendition of "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, performed as a preview by the band during their 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 tours. As of now, the album is entering its final stages of development.
Their 2005 tour placed twenty-first on the list of the most successful concert tours of the year, earning just over US$21 million. The string section comprises local musicians. Live shows are known for their extensive use of pyrotechnics, lasers & lights synchronized with the performance, all of which takes 15 hours to set up.
Shows are divided into two halves: the first consisting of the story and songs of Christmas Eve and Other Stories, the second a mix of songs from The Christmas Attic, Beethoven's Last Night, The Lost Christmas Eve, and a few miscellaneous covers (including Layla, Immigrant Song, and Proud Mary), finishing with a reprise of Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.
During recent performances of their 2006 tour, Chris Caffery stated that production of the album is currently behind schedule, largely because of the band's perfectionism. This delay echoes the two-year delay in the release of Beethoven's Last Night and the year-long delay in the release of The Lost Christmas Eve. TSO stated, on their website, that they are "buried in the studio" attempting to finish the album.
In several cities during their 2007-2008 winter tour, a joke was made on-stage as to what we would be more likely to see in our lifetimes: a McDonald's on Mars, or the release of the long awaited album. This was followed by the band's performance of 'O Fortuna' which will be on the upcoming album.
In the latest edition of TSO's souvenir program there is a page featuring "excerpts from the lyrics on Trans-Siberian Orchestra's upcoming album Night Castle" copyrighted 2007 Paul O'Neill. The song is titled "There Was a Life" and is adjacent to a full page photo of Al Pitrelli on the west coast and a picture of Robert Kinkel on the east coast. This song is not one of the three featured in the concert.
On October 8, Paul O'Neill was interviewed on Seattle's Bob Rivers radio show, he mentioned that during 2008's TSO Xmas tour, more songs will be played from Nightcastle, but the album will not be out until next summer.
|Date of release||Title||Label||Billboard peak||RIAA cert.|
|1996-10-15||Christmas Eve and Other Stories||Lava||#89||2x platinum|
|1998-09-15||The Christmas Attic||Lava||#103||Platinum|
|2000-04-11||Beethoven's Last Night||Warner/Atlantic||#165||Gold|
|2004-10-12||The Lost Christmas Eve||Lava||#26||Platinum|
|Track No.||Song Title||Notes|
|1||A Mad Russian's Christmas||Originally released 1996 on "Christmas Eve and Other Stories"|
|2||Dream Child (A Christmas Dream)||Originally released 1998 on "The Christmas Attic"|
|3||A Last Illusion||Originally released 2000 on "Beethoven's Last Night"|
|4||Christmas Canon Rock||Originally released 2004 on "The Lost Christmas Eve"|
|5||Heal My Soul||Adaptation of a song originally released on Savatage's "Streets: A Rock Opera" album|
|6||Prince of Peace (Live)||Live male vocalist performance recorded at New York City's Madison Square Garden - 2006|