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Interview:
Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Little Caesars Arena, 5 Things to Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra has become as much as much an annual rite of the holiday season as ugly sweaters and gift wrap.



Since its inception in 1996 and its first tour in 1999 the troupe has played to more than 15 million people -- including more than a million last year -- and grossed more than $700 million. It's also sold over 12 million copies of its seven studio releases, four of which have been Christmas-themed concept albums.



This year's trek, TSO's 21st, finds the two companies -- East and West -- playing theatrical, pyrotechnic-filled renditions of its debut album, "Christmas Eve and Other Stories," back on stage for the first time in eight years. The second act will feature favorites from the other titles, and by the time the group takes its bow you can be assured the clock will start ticking towards its 22nd tour in the new year...



• Longtime TSO drummer Jeff Plate says that the group’s late founder Paul O'Neill was talking about bringing "Christmas Eve..." back before his death in 2017.”The realized that this story was probably the most significant one in our catalog. That is really the CD that put us on the map. We toured that story for the first 12 years of our touring existence. It's always been a fan favorite and a band favorite, so this seemed like a good time to bring it back -- but it's a completely different show than what we did before."



• To that point, Plate adds, "the main differences, I would say, are in the video. The video content that we've been using the past several years is really just it's become so brilliant and fantastic, it just completely changes the dynamic of the show. Plus, the team that designs (the show), all the people in video, have really just stepped it up over the past couple years. With the improvement of everything, plus the staff just really realizes we have to be as good as ever on this tour, everybody's just really stepped up their game."



• West Company music director Al Pitrelli says that O'Neill's absence remains a major motivating factor within the TSO organization, including his wife and daughter. "When you deal with a tragedy such as this, I mean you got to take care of the immediate business at hand, but the creative side of it, everybody just feels like there's a huge hole still in our hearts. And his family said, "Okay, well you know what? Paul wanted this to live forever, it's going to live forever. Let's continue working on the ideas for that to exist and just move forward."



• TSO likely won't take much of a breather before starting to consider what it will be doing in 2020. "That's one thing Paul was pretty adamant about; He never wanted to fall back on yesterday's accomplishments," Pitrelli says. "He always looked it as like a Super Bowl team; A team wins the Super Bowl in January and that's awesome and they celebrate, and there's great jubilation in the town and all that stuff, but as soon as that is over it's back to the drawing board -- How do we get better next year? How do we win another Super Bowl? Or, in our case, how do we do a better tour and a better record, and so on and so forth?



• Pitrelli adds that in addition to the continuing touring O'Neill's family has "definitely started the machine back up and running" towards TSO projects that have been on hold since his death. "We've been spending a lot of time back down in Tampa in the studio. And we're looking at all these things and we've been recording a bunch of stuff, you know...all the projects that were kind of being talked about...and worked towards. I don't have a date, I don't know exactly when anything will be released, but I'm just thrilled to death to be recording and to be working, and then just seeing like these news pieces come to life, little by little."



Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, at Little Caesars Arena. $49.50 and up. 313-471-7000 or 313Presents.com.

Web Site: ww.313Presents.com

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