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Trans-Siberian Orchestra goes full-tilt for outer edges

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Mark Weiss
Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Paul O'Neill says the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is used to doing the impossible.

“When we hear something's impossible, we just say, ‘We have to do it',” he says.

Besides having two versions of the band doing 78 shows across the United States in little more than a month, this year's impossible mission is finishing the Christmas tour Dec. 30 in Dallas then playing the next night in Berlin.

The band known to its fans as TSO had planned to begin a month of tour dates in Europe on Jan. 10 in England, but when the chance came up to do New Year's Eve in Brandenburg Square in Berlin, O'Neill says they could not pass it up.

The next big job will be replacing “The Lost Christmas Eve,” the show the band is retiring. It will perform it Dec. 7 at the Consol Energy Center, Uptown.

O'Neill, one of the founders of the band, says the plan was to retire it last year, but when ticket sales jumped 12 percent, the group decided to give it another shot.

“I thought it might be a bad idea,” he says, “but, surprise, sales are up double-digits again this year.”

He says the band has enough Christmas material it will be able to put together a new show for next year.

TSO has been on the road 15 years — and coming to Pittsburgh since 2002. It has performed to more than 10 million people in that time, grossing more than $400 million.

The group does that with concerts that open with a rock-opera story and then go into a second half that features powerful versions of Christmas songs and winter favorites such as the “Sleighride” from Sergei Prokofiev's “Lieutenant Kije.”

And, of course, the shows always feature pyrotechnics that threaten to singe rooftops every year.

TSO cranked out an EP for 2012, and this year has a fully narrated, CD version of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.” In late November, the group launched a Kindle version of “Merry Christmas, Rabbi,” a book mentioned in an earlier opera, “The Christmas Attic.”

Life with TSO is busy but doable, O'Neill says. “It is 15 years, but it seems like two.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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