Trans-Siberian Orchestra bringing new music to Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 11
WILKES-BARRE — With sound big enough to fill a stadium, dazzling light shows and pyrotechnics, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings expert musicianship and theatricality to every town they visit. The rock opera powerhouse that bridged the gap between hard rock and Christmas music 20 years ago, is returning to Wilkes-Barre with new material and a brilliant spectacle.
TSO will play two shows, 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., Dec. 11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. They will perform “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” a mini-movie that composer Paul O’Neil wrote for Fox in 1999, working in songs from their latest effort, “Letters From the Labyrinth.”
O’Neil said “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” was something he wrote in one night.
“I just quickly scripted together this little thing where a 15-year-old ends up breaking into this old Vaudeville theater,” O’Neil said. “She’s a runaway. There, she’s discovered by the caretaker, who uses the ghosts and the spirits from the theater to turn her life around.”
The original production featured Ozzie Davis as the caretaker and Jewel and Michael Crawford as ghosts. The music featured in the composition is among TSO’s most recognized such as “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Christmas Cannon,” and “Music Box Blues.”
“We decided if we were ever going to do “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” live, it was this year or not at all,” O’Neil said.
He also talked about the new album.
“Letters from the Labyrinth, is a major change from the way TSO creates new works,” O’Neil said. “It’s the first album that’s not built around a completed story. Instead, it’s a collection of completed songs that have, basically, left the safety of the studio where they were born.”
O’Neil said the album is an experiment, calling it the first open-ended album the band has ever done. They are hoping to feature at least six songs from “Letters from the Labyrinth” particularly “Madness of Men,” “Forget About the Blame,” and “Not the Same.”
The composer and guitar player said songs on the new album were inspired by his concern for world issues like the Amanda Todd cyber-bullying situation, where a young girl from Canada took her own life after being victimized online and in-person, and the civil war in Syria. It has some positivity to it though.
“The very last story, “The Dreams of Fireflies,” … is basically a bedtime, go to sleep tale, where it just sends you into dreamland, where you have happy dreams, not nightmares,” O’Neil said.
He said music from “Letters from the Labyrinth” influences sets played on this year’s tour. For example, “Who I Am” was written while he was thinking about what the Bavarian monk who wrote “Carmina Burana,” a choral piece about the meaning of life, might create if he were alive today.
“It was designed to segue right out of ‘O Fortuna,” O’Neil said. “I cannot wait to play those songs back to back.”
O’Neil talked about the growth of the production and how they’ve been fortunate to keep up with the yearly expansion.
“Not only have we had a constant inflow of new and young talent that has been developed over the years, but our crew is beyond belief great,” O’Neil said. “If you have a great song, that’s great, but if you have great production where the lights and the lasers and the pyro and everything else is going off in time, off of one nervous system, it helps to take it to a whole other level.”
Tickets for TSO start at $36 and are available through Ticketmaster.com, the Mohegan Sun Arena Box Office or charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected].