Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

And how did I like that classical music concert? December 30, 2012

A FEW WEEKS AGO, my husband phoned from work. He’d just won two tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert at the Xcel Energy Center, compliments of Power 96, KQCL, a Faribault radio station. (Some of you may remember this from a previous post.)

Oh, my gosh, was I excited. I love classical music.

But as apparently everyone on this earth knows, except me, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a rock band. Who would have thought with a name like that?

So I figured I may as well confess my lack of musical knowledge, which I did in a December 12 post. For those of you who have not read that first amusing story, click here for a good laugh.

Secondly, you should know that I have not attended a rock concert in perhaps 30 years, the last one being a performance by The Moody Blues at the old St. Paul Civic Center.

Just sayin’ that I’m not exactly a music expert.

A view of the stage in the background and performers in the foreground elevated onto tiny platforms. I apologize for the horrible images, but DSLR cameras are not allowed into a concert venue and I don't own a compact camera. This image and the second were taken with my cell phone.

A view of the stage in the background and performers in the foreground elevated onto tiny platforms. I apologize for the horrible images, but DSLR cameras were not allowed into the concert venue and I don’t own a compact camera. This image and the second were taken with my cell phone. You can only imagine how many times I repeated, “I wish I had my camera.”

So what did I think of “The Lost Christmas Eve” concert by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra? In all honesty, I was more impressed by the light and pyrotechnics show than by the music or the storyline.

I know. I know. Those of you who really, really love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will wonder, “What the heck? Did she attend the same concert as me?”

Apparently I prefer my music quiet, as in the outstanding “O Come, All Ye Faithful” solo by one of the band members versus the drum banging, steel guitar blazing mashed sound of a song I can’t even understand. I found it interesting that the reverent solo I most enjoyed received the loudest and longest audience applause of the concert.

Yes, there were a lot of gray hairs attending the show, along with a mix of other ages. Just sayin’, we may have favored Led Zepplin in our days (that would be you, Chuck, our concert neighbor), but now some of us wear ear plugs to rock concerts. My husband and I are raising our hands here. I bet the woman from Prior Lake sitting behind us wished she had brought hers, too.

Again, a bad photo, but at least it gives you some idea of the amazing light show and fabulous showmanship of this concert.

Again, a bad photo, but at least it gives you some idea of the amazing light show and fabulous showmanship of this concert.

For awhile there, until my eyes and brain adjusted, I also wondered if I should have brought sunglasses. Those strobe lights were pretty intense. But, once I settled in, I was enamored by the light show and the fire. The flames were so high and intense that the heat wafted to the back of the auditorium where we were seated.

About those seats…we were directly facing the stage; the location could not have been better. But who planned the width of these seats and the leg room? Honestly, I felt wedged into my chair and worried about knocking our large-sized $9.25 shared beer from the cup holder.

I worried, too, a bit about the performers who were elevated onto tiny towering platforms both on-stage and near our end of the concert venue. I bet they really felt the heat when fiery jets flamed near them. That was pretty cool even if it was hot. Got that?

All in all, my husband and I reached this conclusion: The Trans-Siberian Orchestra presented a good concert. Our tickets were free. We were happy.

But would we pay to see this group perform again? Probably not.

© Copyright 2012 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