Trans-Siberian Orchestra changes up Christmas tour tradition

After 13 years of performing "Christmas Eve and Other Stories," Trans-Siberian Orchestra decided to "shake everything up" and present a new holiday show this year. // Tour dates at SoundSpike

After 13 years of performing "Christmas Eve and Other Stories," Trans-Siberian Orchestra decided to "shake everything up" and present a new holiday show this year.

In mid-November, the act teamed up with the Hallmark Channel to debut in arenas the multi-platinum rock opera "The Lost Christmas Eve." The newest TSO holiday tradition -- in two touring companies -- will appear in more than 100 shows in 65 cities across North America.

"Honestly, we never intended for the first installment of the [Christmas] trilogy to go for 13 years," said producer/founder Paul O'Neill. "It just kind of happened."

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O'Neill said the William Morris Agency, which represents TSO, was a little apprehensive about the move.

"They said, 'Paul, it's like "A Christmas Carol." It's a tradition. Don't mess with it,'" he recalled.

"But ticket sales are double digits ahead of last year. In this economy, we would have been happy if they were the same. William Morris called up and said, 'You didn't make the wrong move, you were right.'"

It's been a year of changes for Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The gorup also jumped ship from longtime label Atlantic Records to join Universal, whose executive, Jason Flom, worked with TSO at Lava/Atlantic.

"Jason Flom, who used to be at Atlantic is now at Universal," O'Neill said. "We decided to shake everything up. So we decided we were going to change both the summer and winter tours."

O'Neill said he did so for multiple reasons. Of the three Christmas stories, he said he felt 2004's "The Lost Christmas Eve" would resonate better.

"The story, I think, is perfect for the times," O'Neill said. "It's about this billionaire banker who, 40 years earlier, makes one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your life; he abandoned his only child for the shallowest of reasons.

"Now, he's trudging home four decades later. On Christmas Eve among the snow, he passes an old gothic cathedral, a blues bar, an old hotel and all the wacky New York City inhabitants that wander around these places. Little by little, he undoes that mistake. Also, it's about hope and redemption."

O'Neill said there's an undercurrent in the story as well. Approaching 60, he said he has met folks who are "super rich" who are miserable. Others, who are less fortunate, seem to be happier.

"When he [the character in the story] is reunited with his child, his child is living in this single room hotel in the Bronx getting by on $200," he said. "But he's happy. I don't want to give away the ending, but just like any of my stories, if it's not happy, it's not the ending. I also just think it resonates what's going on these days."

O'Neill is also excited about the EP TSO released on Oct. 30 called "Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night)." It is priced at $5 or less, sticking with the TSO's philosophy of keeping shows and recorded music affordable.

"That's less than minimum wage in any state," O'Neill said. "Anyone can afford to pick it up. It's a little gem that you can slip into the TSO catalog. We're really happy with it."

Speaking of new music, after this holiday tour ends, TSO will take two days off and then, on Jan. 3, will return to the studio to work on three new albums. O'Neill expects the long-awaited "Romanov: When Kings Must Whisper" to be released in 2013.

"It's fairly ironic," he said. "It was written in '93 and it was supposed to come out in '94. Things happen. It got pushed to the back burner. Now, 20 years after we wrote it, we're finally going to put it out. Better late than never.

"The story's great. There are lots of twists, lots of turns, the singers are doing different characters. They're just on fire. Again, we just seem to be in a lucky run. The tour's doing great. The albums are selling. The new album we're working on will take us to a whole 'nother level. It's going as well as can be expected."

 tour dates and tickets

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 tour dates and tickets

December 2012
5 - Rochester, NY - Blue Cross Arena
5 - Wichita, KS - Intrust Bank Arena
6 - Dayton, OH - Wright State University's Nutter Center
6 - Tulsa, OK - BOK Center
7 - Grand Rapids, MI - Van Andel Arena
7 - North Little Rock, AR - Verizon Arena
8 - Rosemont, IL - Allstate Arena
8 - Oklahoma City, OK - Chesapeake Energy Arena
9 - Kansas City, MO - Sprint Center
9 - Indianapolis, IN - Bankers Life Fieldhouse
12 - Washington, D.C. - Verizon Center
12 - Birmingham, AL - BJCC Arena
13 - Jacksonville, FL - Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
13 - Albany, NY - Times Union Center
14 - Sunrise, FL - BB&T Center
14 - Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center
15 - Uniondale, NY - Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
15 - Tampa, FL - Tampa Bay Times Forum
16 - Pittsburgh, PA - Consol Energy Center
16 - Orlando, FL - Amway Center
19 - Providence, RI - Dunkin Donuts Center
19 - Bossier, LA - CenturyLink Center
20 - Cedar Park, TX - Cedar Park Center
20 - Hartford, CT - XL Center
21 - Houston, TX - Toyota Center
21 - Hershey, PA - GIANT Center
22 - San Antonio, TX - AT&T Center
22 - Newark, NJ - Prudential Center
23 - Boston, MA - TD Garden
23 - Dallas, TX - American Airlines Center
26 - Cleveland, OH- Quicken Loans Arena
26 - Nashville, TN - Bridgestone Arena
27 - Buffalo, NY - First Niagara Center
27 - St. Louis, MO - Scottrade Center
29 - St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center
29 - Auburn Hills, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills

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