Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Go ahead, laugh at this Trans-Siberian Orchestra story December 12, 2012

MY HUSBAND PHONED from work one morning last week to tell me he’d just won two tickets from a local radio station to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

I was thrilled. I love classical music and have never attended a professional orchestra concert.

This album cover has nothing to do with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra except the location, New York City. Joe Krush created this cover photo for Joseph Kuhn's 1958 "Symphony for Blues"  record album cover. I recently purchased 10 vintage records at the Faribault Salvation Army for the cover art. If I own a record player, I'm not sure where it's stored or if it works.

This album cover has nothing to do with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra except the location, New York City. Joe Krush created this cover photo for Joseph Kuhn’s 1958 “Symphony for Blues” record album cover. I recently purchased 10 vintage records, including this one, at the Faribault Salvation Army for the cover art. If I own a record player, I’m not sure where it’s stored or if it works.

“Are they were from Siberia?” I asked, noting the orchestra name.

“No, New York, I think,” Randy responded.

It didn’t matter. I was excited about the upcoming concert. Since Randy needed to get back to work, I didn’t ask for additional details.

Later, I shared the news with our oldest daughter. The conversation went something like this:

Daughter: You do know that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a rock band, right?

Me: Uh, no. I thought it was a classical orchestra. Oh, oh. Maybe now I don’t want to go.

Daughter: Bring your ear plugs.

And that is how I learned that my husband and I, who last took in a rock concert (by The Moody Blues) at the St. Paul Civic Center decades ago before children, would not be hearing the lovely and soothing classical music I imagined.

Instead, we’ll be bombarded by steel guitars, so I’m told by someone who’s twice heard the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. The few token string instruments in the band are, he claims, barely audible above the rest of the instruments. Still, he says, we’ll see and hear an outstanding performance which also includes pyrotechnics.

Alright then. Fire and loud rock music. Cool.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert includes a touch of Broadway. Again, unrelated except for the Broadway element, here's another vintage record album I recently purchased for the graphic arts element.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert includes a touch of Broadway. Again, unrelated except for the Broadway element, here’s another vintage record album I recently purchased for the graphic arts element.

The band’s 2012 holiday tour marks the debut performance of their rock opera, “The Lost Christmas Eve,” fusing elements of rock, classical, folk, Broadway and R & B music. I doubt Randy is aware of the “opera” tag.

The performance tells a story that “encompasses a run-down hotel, an old toy store, a blues bar, a Gothic cathedral and their respective inhabitants all intertwined during a single enchanted Christmas Eve in New York City.”

Cool. I appreciate a good story, even if this one’s not set in a quaint Siberian village.

Even the actual albums themselves are a beauty to behold, including this one featuring Wayne King and his orchestra. I bet the Trans-Siberian Orchestra sounds nothing like King.

Even the actual albums themselves are a beauty to behold, including this one featuring Wayne King and his orchestra. I bet the Trans-Siberian Orchestra sounds nothing like King.

FOR ANY OF YOU who may be wondering, yes, my spouse was fully aware that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a rock band. Hey, I’ve never claimed to know much about music.

Have any of you attended this band’s holiday show? If so, should I bring ear plugs and what’s your review of the performance?

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


42 Responses to “Go ahead, laugh at this Trans-Siberian Orchestra story”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    You are cracking me up!!! Yes I have heard of them and have several friends who have gone to see them and totally enjoyed them. Check out this short video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DZCFpHYqbo

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I just had to laugh at my ignorance. Randy even called me from work one day after he’d won the tickets and told me to tune my radio into Power 96 as the station was playing a song by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I instantly recognized the selection as one I’ve heard many times and love.

      • Beth Ann Says:

        Of course you have heard of them—you just didn’t realize it!!! 🙂

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        That’s it. Unless it’s a band that was a favorite when I was a teen, I typically don’t know what group sings what song. Sorry, all you music lovers. Just being honest here.

  2. Amy Rea Says:

    I’ve been. It was very entertaining, although a bit longer than it needed to be. Earplugs might be a good idea–the volume can really rise.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      OK, I’ll most definitely bring the ear plugs. Since I lost my hearing in my right ear nearly two years ago, I’m especially sensitive to certain sounds, loud, loud music being one of them.

  3. Rhonda Says:

    They have a sound all their own. I have 2 of their Christmas cds and really like them. but they are loud.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Now the volume issue is really starting to concern me. But at least it sounds like I’ll enjoy the music, based on comments thus far.

  4. Oh my, better you than me. I can’t imagine going to a rock concert these days. Movie theaters are too loud for me; I take ear plugs when we go to the movies. I wouldn’t have known who the group was either. Why wouldn’t you think it would be classical? After all, it does have orchestra in the name.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yeah, now I’m having second thoughts. Should I let my 18-year-old son attend the concert with his dad?

      Here’s another true story: The last time we visited our second daughter in Appleton, Wisconsin, and attended her church, I left the sanctuary because I could not tolerate the volume of the rock style worship music at 9 a.m. The attendees in the welcome area knew exactly why I had exited the service and directed me to ear plugs in a basket. I wore them throughout the rest of the service, including during the sermon. And, remember, I am 70 percent deaf in my right ear.

  5. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    My son, whose greatest gift in life is to lavish in all the ways God creates and all the ways humans create, marks them as one of his favorite bands, so they must be inventive if not odd.
    I too leave churches when they get too loud, but it’s just a choir and some brass instruments for me. I do not even go when there are things like ump-pah and rock worships, which is sad because I love varied forms of worship. You know the Bible says that Lutherans will be the first to go to heaven. Because God is going to raise the dead first.
    Had to quit going to the symphony, wedding receptions, etc. FM is an ever-giving syndrome.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Now I am laughing out loud at your “Lutherans” comment. That is hilarious. Yes, I’m Lutheran AND I am laughing.

      I am a real traditionalist when it comes to worship. But that’s just me. I’m happy to see various forms of worship offered to draw a variety of worshipers. I’m pretty certain those living in biblical times weren’t singing praises to the accompaniment of a pipe organ.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        I once moved the altar (which was really made of two doors, one for the front, one for the top, and I’m not kidding) out from the wall and stood behind it. The foundations of heaven are still quivering.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        An altar constructed from two doors? OK, you need to share more about this.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        I served as a licensed lay pastor in a wonderful little church right on Hwy 61 about three miles south of Gooseberry. It was a fun settled Norwegian community.Castle Danger. Its character has much changed since then. But they took pride in doing it themselves and doing it inexpensively. The building was an old school house that in 1954 they set up on a firm new foundation and basement. They did not change the interior that much, but it has been changed since, made quite lovely actually. But to make the altar they bought two 36 inch wide simple blond wood-grained doors. They built a frame to hold one as the front and one as the top. Because of how the sanctuary (area behind the alter rail) was set back in a narrower space, no one could see that ends were open. Everyone in the membership knew how it was built.
        It looked like any other altar. I think such minimal ways are worshipful. My favorite model of worship is patterned after the Quakers or the Mennonites, bare, simple, quiet, contemplative. When I left, the church had four times its annual budget of $17,000 in savings. It once while I served there gave away $9000 when it had a budget of $13,000. All that has changed for a variety of reason, mostly modern economic pressures. Most of the older members, and they were old, were open to the small changes I made, but two of them thought God had ordained for perpetuity Setting One in the Green Hymnal with only organ accompaniment and a sermon from the pulpit and nowhere else that lasted 14.6 minutes.
        Have you ever seen the Gary Cooper version of Friendly Persuasion?

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thank you for sharing the details of that altar made from two doors. It’s a lovely story, just lovely. I have not traveled that much in the northland. Love that name, Castle Danger.

        No, I am not familiar with Gary Cooper’s version of Friendly Persuasion.

    • Clyde of Mankato Says:

      Wonderful Christian movie, about a Quaker family in the Civil War, who at then end must decide if they will fight to defend their home from Rebel invaders. Has some warm moments. Early in the movie, they show two church services in two churches right near each other. One is a Quaker service, bare rough building, no music, congregation sitting quietly, waiting for “the Light” to inspire them to speak out in confession or praise or love or concern for neighbors. Meanwhile next door is a protestant service with a loud organ, congregation singing loudly and joyously. The images keep switching back and forth between the two. A contrast of two very fine ways to worship.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I think I will need to track down that movie. Sounds like one I would enjoy. Thank you for the review.

  6. This just reminded me that I have one of their holiday CDs! The name of the band is quite deceiving, but you’ll have a blast at the concert. Literally.
    Happy holidays!

  7. I suggest ear plugs – my ears rang for about 2 hours after attending and sunglasses might help too with the strobe lights, especially if you are sensitive to lights. I enjoyed it, but wish I was better prepared and maybe next time not bring the in-laws who thought it was going to be classical music:( Have a Great One!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, oh, since I have hearing issues, my ears are especially sensitive. Maybe ear plugs atop ear plugs?

      See, I’m not the only one who thought this was classical music. Go, in-laws!

  8. randy Says:

    The name could maybe be a bit deceiving, The Electric Light Orchestra is also a rock band. Such a sheltered life you live.

  9. Tom Strese Says:

    I’m a huge fan of theirs. I’ve been to three concerts and they’re a great time. My mom who is your age Audrey likes their music as well even though she’s not a big R&R fan.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Now that’s as enthusiastic endorsement as I’ve heard today. Thanks for dropping in with your review, Tom.

  10. Eric Schmidt Says:

    this is a good one that Lynn and I enjoy

  11. treadlemusic Says:

    Oh!!!!! My absolutely favorite ‘band’!!!!! They “grab” bits and pieces from the classics but ROCK THEM!!!! They are so talented and the keyboardists are “out of this world”!!! I have been to several concerts—–in LaCrosse,WI, (venue just barely large enough! Seats around 6,000) and the Target Center (Mpls). Awesome!!!! I am so jealous!!!!! The laser lights and other effects are incredible!!!!!

  12. Jackie Says:

    These guys are really cool, lucky you…and Randy. I have one of their Christmas CD’s ,They are actually amazing I think they put on quite a light show…cant wait to hear about it

  13. I’m not typically a concert-goer – I get headaches. I have heard of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, though!! I hope you can enjoy it!

  14. What a shock to see that beautiful cover while I was looking for something else. I owned the Rhapsody in Blue album that came in that gorgeous cover. Maybe you bought my old album (smile)! So, after I saw the cover and read how you came to own it, I read the rest of the blog and loved it.
    Happy holidays. And if you ever want to get rid of the album, let me know. I still have my turntable!! Molly

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Happy to take you down memory lane with this post. Vinyls, so I’ve read, are making a big comeback. Who would have thought? Perhaps I should have snapped up more albums. I’ll keep you in mind should I wish to part with Rhapsody in Blue. Thanks for stopping by Minnesota Prairie Roots; happy to have you as a new follower.

  15. Lori Says:

    Audrey, My girls and I went last year and had an awesome time. Light show is wonderful. We would all love to go again. I have all of their albums. The Lost Christmas Eve seemed a little darker than the others but it is still good music.


    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks for the endorsement. Should I wear ear plugs? Can I take photos? I’d love to, but expect I may not be allowed to drag my humongous DSLR into the concert.

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