‘No one will have a bad seat’: Trans-Siberian Orchestra goes virtual for 2020 holiday show
Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a Christmastime tradition for music fans across the country, will look and feel a lot different this holiday season.
In a typical year, the group’s East and West touring bands put on around 120 live shows — often two in the same day — for a total of about 1 million fans. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has closed venues nationwide, that’s not possible in 2020.
Instead, Trans-Siberian Orchestra will deliver its holiday performance, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories Live In Concert,” virtually on Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET. Tickets for the show, which will originate from Nashville without an in-person audience, are $30 and went on sale today on the TSO website.
Can’t tune in to the livestream? No worries. It can be streamed on-demand through midnight Dec. 20.
“This is really new for me,” TSO musical director and lead guitarist Al Pitrelli told USA TODAY. “There’s been a lot of negativity in 2020. I didn’t want to leave this year without doing something special. I promise this is going to be completely different.”
Aside from being virtual, one of the key differences this year will be that TSO’s East and West touring bands will perform together for the first time since they were created in 2000. Bryan Hicks will serve as narrator, with Pitrelli and keyboardist Derek Wieland serving as musical directors.
“At the end of the day, we still get to do what we love,” Pitrelli said. “No matter what, we wanted to do something. Like pretty much everyone else, we had to adapt, overcome and improvise. Normal went out the window really quick. We thought briefly about doing a drive-in show (like other performers have done this year) but it would have been too cold.”
“Christmas Eve and Other Stories” traces its roots back to TSO’s late founder, composer and lyricist Paul O’Neill. In the story, set on Christmas Eve, an angel heads to Earth to help restore humanity.
In addition to TSO music not heard in recent years, the show will also feature fan favorites such as “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy,” “Promises To Keep,” “This Christmas Day,” “Ornament” and “Old City Bar.”
“The story has always been the centerpiece of the show,” Pitrelli said. “It’s going to be a very up-close and personal performance. No one will have a bad seat.”
While Pitrelli is disappointed he can’t tour this year, there is a bright side, he says.
“This is the first year I will be under my own roof for the holidays — Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas — in 21 years,” he said. “All five of my children will be home. That’s something that just never happens. Santa Claus is going to come down my chimney and I’m going to be there for it.”
TSO’s first live tour kicked off in 1999. Since then, the group says it has staged about 2,100 shows attended by approximately 17 million fans.
Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges