EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 21, 2012

Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to rock Christmas shows

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is back on the road doing its holiday concerts this fall — with a stop Saturday in at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H.

It’s no surprise that the group is back, considering the tour has been a major success each year ever since the combination rock band/orchestra took its Christmas show on the road in 1999.

But this year’s concert will be a decidedly new experience for fans. After years of making the 1996 album “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” the centerpiece of the show, TSO founder, leader and composer Paul O’Neill knew it was time for a change — not just for freshness, but because of the story he had to tell.

“We decided this year to switch to ‘The Last Christmas Eve’ (the third album in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra trilogy of holiday CDs) because I thought it would resonate better,” said O’Neill. “When I wrote it in 2004, I didn’t know how well it would fit after the crash of 2008.”

The main character in “The Lost Christmas Eve” is a billionaire banker, who 40 years earlier, had abandoned his infant son because the boy wasn’t born healthy. Rich but miserable, he bumps into a small child who asks him if he has kids, triggering waves of regret and starting him on a search for the now-grown baby he had turned over to the state years before.

After interventions by an angel and a search that leads him to a hospital where crack babies are cared for and a single-room occupancy building in the Bronx, the man finds his son and discovers that, while relatively poor, his son was happy and why.

“Little by little, he makes a transition, finds the miracle and the meaning, and there’s a happy ending,” O’Neill said. “Because, like all of my shows, if you want sad, read the newspaper. There’s too much Frank Capra in me.”

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